ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Port: Term limits ballot measure seems like payback from the Bastiat Caucus

You can expect this measure to make the ballot. It's backed by the national group U.S. Term Limits, and there will almost certainly be enough money from that source to pay for the requisite number of signatures to be gathered, but we can hope North Dakotans have enough sense not to vote for limits on their choices at the ballot box.

Photo: Rick Becker table stunt
State Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, set up a table and asked citizens to challenge his argument against North Dakota mask mandate. (Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service, via Twitter)
Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service, via Twitter
We are part of The Trust Project.

MINOT, N.D. — There is something perverse about an effort to curtail who voters can vote for that is pursued by people who claim to be acting in the interest of voters.

They're basically telling us we have to be protected from ourselves.

I'm talking about term limits, a policy proposal that assumes the electorate is too stupid to realize they can vote for someone other than the incumbent.

I wrote yesterday that a ballot measure campaign to implement term limits was coming to North Dakota, and would likely be filed with the Secretary of State's office in the coming weeks. Today, perhaps in response to my column, the sponsoring committee filed their measure for approval.

It's exactly what I described. It would disallow service in the state House or Senate for more than eight cumulative years. It would limit governors to no more than two terms. It would prohibit the Legislature from initiating a constitutional amendment to overturn term limits. And, perhaps a tacit acknowledgment that the restrictions on the Legislature are almost certainly unconstitutional (how do restrict the Legislature from legislating?) it includes a severability statement, holding that if any part of the amendment is struck down, the others stand.

ADVERTISEMENT

What's interesting is the personnel behind the measure. The chairman of the measure committee is Minot-based activist Jared Hendrix who, through his political consulting business, attempted to organize the hardcore Trumpist faction to take over the North Dakota Republican Party .

That effort failed miserably and now, in an endeavor that seems equal parts payback and salve for Hendrix's bruised ego, we have this term limits amendment.

Hendrix's sponsoring committee is a who's who of the disaffected Trumpists and Bastiat Caucus lawmakers who got a shellacking this spring in the NDGOP's reorganization process.

Among the lawmakers sponsoring this are Rep. Rick Becker , the founder of the Bastiat Caucus, as well as Rep. Jeff Hoverson , Sen. Oley Larsen , Rep. Jeff Magrum , Sen. Jason Heitkamp , Rep. Tom Kading , and Rep. Nathan Toman.

Ironically, more than one of these characters have served more than two terms in the Legislature. You'd think, if they believe in term limits, they might have the courage to practice their convictions.

Don't get me wrong, this amendment is terrible public policy. The personnel are beside the point. The chairman of this committee could be the reanimated corpse of Thomas Jefferson and it would still be a very stupid thing to put in our state constitution.

ADVERTISEMENT

Still, one cannot ignore the political context this proposal is happening in. The hardcore Trumpists/Bastiat Caucus folks, frustrated by their lack of success in state politics, would now like to change the rules.

Which is a poor reason in and of itself to amend the state constitution.

You can expect this measure to make the ballot. It's backed by the national group U.S. Term Limits, and there will almost certainly be enough money from that source to pay for the requisite number of signatures to be gathered, but we can hope North Dakotans have enough sense not to vote for limits on their choices at the ballot box.

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 .

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
What to read next
Doug Hamilton, a fixture on the airwaves in Fargo-Moorhead as a TV news anchor and public radio host, was a consummate professional.
If Rep. Kelly Armstrong and his surrogates believe independent candidate Cara Mund is a threat, you'll know it by how they treat her
Former Miss America Cara Mund announced on social media she will run as an independent for North Dakota's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, joining incumbent Republican Armstrong and his Democratic challenger Mark Haugen. The election is three months away and until Mund dropped this bombshell, the state was headed to another snoozer election cycle.
China's pattern of using economic development projects to disguise its aggressive espionage in the United States demands that the China-backed corn mill in Grand Forks receive thorough scrutiny.