MINOT, N.D. — Authoritarians are all the same.

They love making rules for other people. Orwell wrote about them. "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others," was the motto of the pigs in "Animal Farm."

So it goes with the Bastiat Caucus, a splinter faction of the North Dakota Republican Party who style themselves liberty-loving American patriots but, in truth, are really no different from all the other culture war sad sacks who can't find contentment unless everyone, everywhere, is following rules they only selectively enforce on themselves.

The latest project from the Bastiats is an initiated measure that aims to implement term limits in North Dakota selectively.

The motivation has the stench of petty politics.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

The Bastiats saw one of their own expelled from the Legislature when disgraced former lawmaker Luke Simons was sent home amid accusations of sexual harassment. Despite his largely conservative track record in office, they have a pronounced dislike of popular Gov. Doug Burgum (some in the Bastiat movement have even launched a quixotic campaign to recall him).

Their measure, instead of implementing term limits broadly, seeks revenge against Burgum and the Legislature by applying term limits only to them.

If term limits are a good idea for the governor or your state senator, why not the treasurer or the attorney general, too?

The hypocrisy of this measure doesn't stop there.

A group of Bastiat Caucus lawmakers is on the sponsoring committee for the measure, and three of them have already served for more than the eight-year limit this ballot measure would impose. A fourth may well be running for a third four-year term this cycle.

Rep. Rick Becker of Bismarck, the founder of the Bastiat Caucus, was first elected to the Legislature in 2012.

Sen. Oley Larsen of Minot, the current chairman of the Bastiat Caucus, was first elected in 2010.

Rep. Nathan Toman of Mandan was elected in 2012, and Rep. Tom Kading of Fargo, elected in 2014, will presumably be running for a third term this fall.

If Becker, Larsen and Toman had the courage of their convictions, if they truly believed in the cause of term limits as a principle and not just a vehicle for grandstanding and revenge, they would resign their seats immediately.

Kading, for his part, wouldn't campaign for a third term in his current seat.

They're not going to do this. Their measure even has a whole section specifically exempting their previous time in office from the term limits.

If their amendment passes, Becker, for instance, could still enjoy an 18-year tenure in the state House before hitting this limit he's endorsed. Larsen could see his tenure extend to two decades.

"Rules for thee but not for me" is the refrain from these hypocrites who style themselves champions of the people even as they aim to limit who the people can vote for.

To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com.