It’s been a long, tough winter.
Just as we’d recover from one storm, another would hit us that was equally grueling.
We’d hear about the potential damage a storm could bring and its likelihood of impacting our area. Some packed the punch they promised, while others caused a lot of anxiety but resulted in little more than a wimpy whisper.
By the end we were left with 50 plus inches of snow and the threat of another major flood.
Many found themselves asking, “Why do we live here again?”
It’s simultaneously been a long, brutal North Dakota legislative session.
As soon as we’d learn about one potentially catastrophic bill, another would come to our attention that was equally cringe-worthy.
As we learned the details of each bill, we’d imagine the potential harm each would bring if passed and wait to see if what was brewing would gather the strength to culminate into something calamitous.
Some legislation passed that can only be described as repressive, setting us back further from the modern age; while some that was proposed never gathered the strength to wreak havoc, but was exhausting, nonetheless.
Again this session, North Dakota failed to pass a bill that would offer equal protection to our LGBTQ community. Not one, but two bills failed in the Senate. The Legislature also passed several bills that seem to go against a main tenet of Republicanism – limiting state control over city government – by prohibiting a ban on plastic bags and telling cities they couldn’t increase their minimum wage. It was only due to public outrage that a resolution to rescind the state’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment didn’t pass. The same outrage caused senators to reconsider allowing an exception for marital rape on a bill that negated parental rights for rapists.
The list goes on, but the long and short of it is, by the end we’re left with a state that’s much less inclusive and much more regressive.
I find myself asking, “Why do I live here again?”
North Dakota cities are often ranked among the top places to live. Recently, Fargo and Bismarck were ranked No. 11 and No. 15 respectively by livability.com in their list of the top 100 best places to live. These rankings were based on average home prices and opportunity for work. They didn’t factor in equal opportunity or how welcoming and accepting a place is. I would imagine if those things were considered, factors that weigh heavily in the decision-making process of many young people on deciding where to live, North Dakota cities wouldn’t have made the list at all.
There are some North Dakotans who, after this winter, have had it. They don’t want to put up with the cold, bitter, debilitating North Dakota environment anymore – the weather or the politics.
It would be easy to run away to a place that’s a little warmer weather wise and has a sunnier political outlook, but North Dakotans aren’t known for taking the easy route. We weather the storm and keep fighting the good fight.
This column was submitted for consideration in The Forum's search for "the next great columnist."