It’s Time to Organize; It’s Time to Work
The North Dakota Democratic-NPL in 2016
From U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp:
Why does the North Dakota Democratic-NPL matter? It’s simple. We are the party that stands up for all North Dakotans. We are the party that recognizes the enormous potential throughout our state, while acknowledging the challenges, so we can seek real, workable solutions to build a stronger, safer North Dakota. We are the party that is constantly looking ahead to build bright futures for our kids and grandkids.
We are the party fighting for working families by supporting strong paid family and medical leave policies so no one has to choose between their family and their job. We are the party fighting against discrimination of any form, including in the workplace or at the voting booth. We are the party working to build a robust, diverse economy. We are the party standing up for struggling families just trying to make ends meet. We are the party working to strengthen and preserve Social Security for future generations. We are the party fighting for rural America including our farmers and ranchers so they have the support to do their jobs. And we are the party working to make sure every North Dakotan has a chance to succeed.
This year, we have so many bright, talented Democratic-NPL candidates running for office. They are the future of our party, reinforcing just how much we have to look forward to both this year and in years to come. But we aren’t done. There are so many North Dakotans with unique experiences whose voices matter. Anyone can get involved. That’s what our district and state conventions are about — supporting these top-notch candidates and also forming coalitions in our communities to help them get elected. North Dakota’s future matters, and each of us can make a difference by joining in these efforts to help build a strong North Dakota now and for future generations.
From our Chair, Representative Kylie Oversen:
As the leader of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party, I want to address a number of issues important to ALL North Dakotans. And I want to start an honest conversation about the issues that impact the daily lives of the people of North Dakota, and what the Dem-NPL has planned for 2016 and beyond. District Conventions begin this weekend and it is important to keep our purpose and our values in mind.
What is our vision, and what is our task for the people of North Dakota? The vision is simple: support the hard-working families of North Dakota by making sure that they have the support they need to put food on the table, that their kids get the education they deserve, that they can save for retirement. That is a vision that all of us should be able to support. Our task for the people of North Dakota is to ensure that we do not allow Republicans to give our state away. To do this, we must elect more Democrats.
Who are we and how do we accomplish our goals?
We are a party made up of an army of volunteers in every corner of the state, of past and current elected officials, of party staff, and of those outside our state who support our causes. This is our biggest fight yet as a collective. It will be an arduous yet noble effort, but we are up for it and we will play an historic role in taking back our state for the people of North Dakota. Our vision and our task are nothing less than an effort to restore democracy to our state and to renew our vow of equal opportunity and justice for all citizens.
We need to move our state forward in this election cycle and the next legislative session in a way that helps all of us — no matter what our circumstances. I know you have heard that before, but it’s more important than ever that we actually deliver. No one believes our state is currently at the levels of economic or educational performance we need to meet the challenges we face together. Now is the time to set a course for a better future. We cannot afford to wait any longer. We can do so much better as a state. We must foster a new environment where public policy becomes sensitive to values. And we must build a state, a community, where no person, no family, and no neighborhood is left behind.
We cannot leave anything on the table in the 2016 election cycle or during the next legislative session. Republicans have only played partisan games and shuffled papers and given out $30K bonuses to government staffers while budgets are being slashed by more than four percent. That does nothing to move our state forward. Our work will require give and take on ALL sides. This means real hard choices, and bipartisan conversations about the direction we want our state to take.
Standing up for all North Dakotans — Democrats get results
But I am encouraged that we can get things done. We have shown in the past that Democrats and Republicans can work together when shared interests at stake. The real question is whether we can come together on the difficult questions: How will we fund an educational system that desperately needs improvement? How will we find the resources to invest in affordable college education? And how will we create and uphold real transparency in government, such as understanding the inner workings and decisions of the Industrial Commission, without bold political courage? Can we come together on the hard choices?
And it is important that we make these hard choices with all North Dakotans in mind. There are North Dakotans who don’t think voting impacts their lives, who live every single day with economic anxiety — those are the individuals and families we can’t leave behind. Currently not everyone is sharing in the state’s prosperity. That’s the hard truth and we need to keep it in mind when making decisions about our shrinking budget. In the shadows of the buildings that house our government are the people living with constant insecurity.
Taking a hard look at North Dakota
So let’s have an honest conversation. We have failed to invest in our state employees. They work as hard as anyone, and it is an embarrassment that many of them who help families that depend on state services find themselves, after their shifts, getting up into the back of those same lines. And now many of them fear they will end up in the back of the unemployment line. We need real leadership at the top of our state government rather than cronyism and a failure to protect those who protect our citizens.
Republicans have failed to regulate taxes on our biggest growth industry. The GOP proposed in 2015 to permanently cut the oil extraction tax by 30 percent in exchange for elimination of the “trigger” incentive. This results in an unacceptable risk of stunning revenue loss both in the upcoming biennium and in future biennia. North Dakota will lose hundreds of millions of dollars in the next two years and billions upon billions between now and 2025. Such circumstances would be disastrous both in the near- and long-term for our state. We need legislators and a state government that is looking out for the future of North Dakota.
And Republicans have failed to keep our promises to the people of North Dakota with the elimination of the state-run rail safety program from the Public Service Commission budget. In the wake of the near-disaster outside Casselton, state officials were scrambling all over each other with proposals to address rail safety. But when it actually mattered, members of the majority were actively opposing the creation of a rail safety program while GOP statewide officeholders sat back and did nothing about it. That’s unacceptable. We need legislators and a state government who are going to keep their promises to the people.
Taking action to bring about needed change
Now is the time to make hard choices so that we don’t continue to hide the problems in an under-sized budget with oversized reserves. We must make these hard choices because it’s the right thing to do. I am optimistic that North Dakota’s best days are ahead. But it will not happen if we click our heels and hope. It happens because we stop the political games and we make the hard choices with bold leadership.
We must do it for the Minot service worker who is just finishing up her second shift so she can go home and spend more time with her young son, who came home from a school that is finally improving.
We must do it for the teacher in Dickinson who chose his profession for pride, not profit, and who has a classroom where every student has the attention they need, and the tools they deserve.
We must do it for the new technology worker in Grand Forks, who has had the red tape cut and the ability to start her own business without government interference, but instead now has government’s support, helping her get ideas to the marketplace fast enough to compete not just locally, but globally.
And we must do it so that all North Dakotans can thrive in our state, where our children’s futures will be brighter than ever.
And we need you. We need you to get involved in your community, to be leaders and advocates for a better future. We need you to care about public policy, to be the citizens speaking out for more integrity in politics, and for you to believe and know that government and public policy can make a difference. We need you to believe that politics is not just about power and money games, but that politics can be about the improvement of people’s lives, about lessening human suffering in our state, and bringing about more peace and more justice.
The Dem-NPL is at the table, ready to work. We always have been and we will continue to be here for the people of North Dakota. The test will be seeing who is there with us, with serious proposals for our state and open-minded exchanges over policies. Because when it comes down to the moment, every North Dakotan will know who is talking the talk or walking the walk. Who really has put in the hard work. Who has the best interests of the state in mind.
I am proud to stand with all of our current elected officials and I am proud to see a new crop of candidates vying for office under the auspices of the Democratic-NPL. We will hold our incumbents’ seats on Election Day. We will bring new Dem-NPL members into the elected-fold on Election Day. And we will stand together as a party, in unison, as we move forward, into a future we create for ourselves.
So let’s keep talking. Let’s keep this honest conversation going. And let’s all get to work for North Dakota.
It’s time to organize. It’s time to work.