Letter: The North Dakota bus ride
Faye Seidler encourages people upset with North Dakota's recent legislative session to consider running for office.
Every time I take the bus, I wonder if our state policy makers and influencers see the same North Dakota I do. A place where many people are doing their best to survive. Outside the Oil Boom years, our population growth has not been exciting with stagnant and negative years, and rural communities especially struggling.
Michael Standaert of North Dakota News Cooperative reported that rent increased nearly 50% in the last 10 years across the state and highlighted the increasing cost of groceries and inability to find affordable modern housing.
If you listen to the important people, our biggest issue is the workforce shortage. Translated, that means important people think our biggest problem is that big business isn’t making enough money. We've got shrewd businessmen here, real Robert McNamaras. And hey, I want North Dakota to be successful, just in a way that also helps people who ride the bus. It’d be a less bumpy ride if we stopped throwing LGBTQ+ folks under it.
It’s hard to get excited about a state where even the governor may be considering putting in applications for a better job. Our leaders in the House and Senate complained to Rob Port that the media focused on culture war issues more than the chamber did, but maybe that’s because the only other major newsworthy thing they did was take expensive trips or vote against feeding kids?
I’m not saying individual lawmakers don’t care or aren’t incredible people, or that important bills didn’t get passed, but my point is, for the people on the bus tomorrow looks a lot like yesterday. Minnesota is out there trying to give everyone paid family and sick leave, recreational pot, medical autonomy, and free school lunches. Where is the good life in North Dakota? Well, you can drink milk straight from the cow and misgender trans people.
Socially conservative lawmakers are successful here because most people in our state aren’t excited about the status quo. If you want North Dakota to continue separating church and state, you won’t get there by lambasting social conservatives. It’ll be through offering a more exciting future for the people currently struggling.
Term limits mean that now more than ever people should consider running for office. In 2022, 57% of North Dakotans didn’t vote. If you have a dream worth listening to, there are a lot of untapped voters ready to support it. Personally, I’d love to see more librarians, teachers, social workers, or doctors in our legislative chambers. I'd like to see more people who take public transport filling elected seats.
Ultimately, what I want is people who believe in our state, care about our people, and want to invest in our future. And the good news is if that’s you, you’re already qualified and I encourage you to contact your party and run! The more we’re all civically engaged, the safer our democracy, the bigger our ideas, and the more energy we can bring to build a brighter future together.
Faye Seidler is a frequent contributor to The Forum's opinion pages.
This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.