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And so history repeats itself

“History repeats itself because no one was listening the first time” is a long standing truism, reaffirmed by people who are unteachable.

Not too long ago, I wrote a column claiming victory for the Democrats in the fall but with a note of encouragement for the president. With a historical knack for repeating past mistakes, the Democrats haven’t held their North Dakota caucuses yet so, Donald, don’t surrender until the results are in.

Sure enough, in their relentless search for defeat at the national level they have been casting their support for the two candidates least likely to win in November.

In my previous column, I included the long-standing advice of 1971 from Authors Richard Scammon and Ben Wattenberg (one Republican and one Democrat) who said that the winners in most elections are the moderate candidates who hog the middle of the road.

The American people do not want a president who promises great changes in society. Our political system is a status quo system, meaning that doing very little is popular. We have been acculturated to standing still. The U. S. Constitution mandates it.

Neither Bernie Sanders nor Elizabeth Warren is in the middle of the road. In fact, they look so far left that they leave many Americans scratching their heads. They stand in defiance of the prevailing culture and that is politically terminal.

Rumor has it that the Democrats in North Dakota will be conducting their caucuses on March 10, the day the Roman fleet sank 50 Carthaginian ships in 241 B.C. A bad omen!

It is my prediction that Sanders and Warren will get delegates to the national Democratic convention in a state that ranks second in the country for support of ultra-conservative Trump. In a close convention, those North Dakota delegates may become crucial in choosing a moderate candidate.

But a significant number of Democrats are still dreamers that would rather make a point than win. For them, it is instinctive to join in a charge of the light brigade. And everybody knows what happened to that outfit.

Some Democrats will think this is a harsh appraisal of their acumen. Well, when the 2018 state Democratic convention cast one-fourth of its votes against Heidi Heitkamp, its own incumbent U. S. Senator, something has to be awry in its cortex.

That same one-fourth will be appearing in the March 10 caucuses to espouse the candidacies of Sanders and Warren.

Both parties have run losers in the past. In spite of the entire post-election bad-mouthing, Hillary Clinton beat Donald fair and square. The quirks of the Electoral College made the difference. They both lost.

Both the caucus and primary systems are defective. Because they are controlled by the true believers in the party, they have an inclination to nominate true blue party followers when the country is yearning for something else.

My preference is back to the smoke-filled room which has been abolished for physical and political health reasons. We have to choose from among caucuses, primaries and smoke-filled rooms.

In the recent debacle in Iowa, the caucus system got such a black eye it has been repudiated. Now they’re talking about going to primaries so that the folks who know less will get to run the nominating system.

Democracy is a very good idea in theory but it is too complicated to implement in a fallen society where power, greed and money haunt the system. We need to call for Diogenes and ask him to bring his lantern. We are in the dark when looking for a good nominating system.

Lloyd Omdahl is a former lieutenant governor of North Dakota and former political science professor at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.

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