Political landscape prompts announcement of non-candidacy

I will not be running for governor, or any other public office, this year of 2024.

I have carefully considered this option. I’m reasonably sure that I could do a very good job serving as our state’s governor, and have fun doing it. With mounting dissatisfaction with North Dakota’s status quo, winning the governorship looks like a realistic possibility. At least on paper. Yet, I have decided against it.

My motives are mixed. Some are personal. Some are political. And part of it is that I’m just flat-out disgusted with a crab mentality in our state’s political culture.

It may appear that North Dakota’s political landscape is ripe for change. And indeed, there is a thirst for change, with increasing impatience with the status quo. Yet, what I see most is a desire for an inspiring vision for our state’s future.

On both sides of the aisle, we are seeing fanatically fractious factions and mean spirited shock jocks dead set on torpedoing anything with a positive agenda.

I have many things to do with my life, things I would like to accomplish over the next few years. Books to write. Arabic calligraphy to draw. Linocuts and intaglios to print. Although I’m willing to consider public service down the road, quite a few things within North Dakota’s political culture would need to change first.

I have better things to do than wade into the toxicity that has been engulfing North Dakota’s politics. Republican infighting is right out there in the open. It is easy to see. Yet, Democratic infighting has been at least as nasty, the difference being that a lot of its infighting has been behind closed doors, hidden from view.

I continue to be furious over how the Democratic-NPL’s leadership and management have treated me over the past two years, so it would be inappropriate for me to run for statewide office under these circumstances.

This is not just about me. Voters can intuitively pick up on contempt, and indeed dislike, from their political leaders. Voters can intuitively tell the difference between a positive vision for the future and a culture of berate, berate, berate.

Indeed, we should never forget that it was outrage against that very contempt which fueled the rise of North Dakota’s Nonpartisan League in the first place.

We live in a time when narrow-minded conformity wears a cloak of diversity, elitist condescension wears a cloak of equity, insular arrogance wears a cloak of inclusion, and racism wears a cloak of anti-racism. We live in an era when cultural genocide perpetrated by petty scolds can masquerade in the garb of wokeness.

I think that most people, including Republicans themselves, can agree that this era of Republican hegemony over the past generation has gone stale. I look forward to a time when there can be a realistic alternative to that hegemony.

I have yet to see it.

To put it bluntly, I am too upset to run for office this year. If the electorate really wanted a narcissistic Debbie Downer who wallows in self-pity and has nothing good to say about anybody, we already have a candidate for that – Donald Trump.

For me to run for office, I would need to provide a clear contrast. For this to happen, I would need to be in a better mood. I would need to find a bigger tent.

McDonald’s has many restaurants in India. It sells Chicken McNuggets and Egg McMuffins. Yet, no McDonald’s restaurant in India will ever include a Bacon, Double Cheeseburger or a Big Mac on its menu. This is because McDonald’s trims its sails to local sensibilities in India. You won’t find McDonald’s waging a holy crusade to convince Muslims to eat pork or Hindus to eat beef. No amount of the slickest advertising in the world will convince them to change their diet.

Political parties in North Dakota will need to keep this in mind.

If you want my vote, you have to ask for it. If you want my support, you have to ask for it. Moreover, you have to convince me that you know what state you are actually living in. You have to convince me that you are serious about winning.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today