Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Where did politics go wrong? . . .

Posted 12/01/15 (Tue)

Maybe it’s time for a third political party to take charge of things in North Dakota and in the United States.

We need to stop and listen to ourselves for a few minutes and just realize how ridiculous we’re making each other sound.

Things have gotten so out of hand in Bismarck and the D.C. “Beltway,” that you have to think at some point in time it’s all going to collapse.

All we have to do is analyze recent Republican debates held around the country. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio taking cheap shots at each other, Donald Trump embellishing himself and Dr. Ben Carson being held accountable for obscure things that happened 50 years ago.

To me that is really the first notion I’ve seen of this political disease seeping into the Republican Party. Very little of it makes any sense.

Things have been so wrong in Washington for so long that these people don’t know any different, or so it seems.

Here in North Dakota it was recently announced that Gov. Jack Dalrymple gave almost $100,000 in bonuses to five members of his staff including Jeff Zent, the governor’s press secretary.

The following day, Joel Heitkamp got hold of this information and talked about it on his KFGO radio show.

And almost immediately, people were attacking Heitkamp for being a typical Democrat and bad mouthing the governor for doing this.

Honestly, in a situation like that, the political party doesn’t matter whatsoever. It’s an outrage and people within the Republican Party should be just as angry.

As a journalist and one who has spoken to Jeff Zent numerous times, I have a pretty good understanding of what he does as a day-to-day routine and I just can’t imagine any journalist or anybody in public relations getting an $18,000 bonus.

When I first started my journalism career, I didn’t earn that much salary in a year and in 28 years of being a newspaper editor, my largest bonus has been $2,500.

Here’s our tax dollars at work and as I said before, this isn’t about Republican or Democrat, this is about wasting tax money and purposely trying to make the other party angry.

Perhaps these five staffers deserved a bonus. That’s great, then give them one, but $100,000?

Political attack ads are another obvious reason to show how out of touch politics has become.

There’s just such a disconnect from the politicians to their constiutents that something has to change. It’s spiraling out of control.

In my career, I’ve occasionally contacted and interviewed politicians going back to Gov. George Sinner when I was in college.

OK, so a college student wants to interview the governor for a college newspaper article and it got set up pronto, I spent nearly an hour with the governor and later wrote my article.

And over the years of my career, there has always been a “relationship” with those in Bismarck and with those in Washington.

These days, I can enquire about any problem from the Keystone XL pipeline to four laning U.S. Highway 52 and not get a response.

I’ve gone so far as to contact Heidi Heitkamp’s office and ask why she didn’t respond to a request for information.

That response came about a month later and it was essentially “canned” information.

On the totally opposite end of the spectrum, I was stunned as a young reporter right out of college working for the Emmons County Record, when Byron Dorgan came to Linton for a meeting.

The media; the Bismarck Tribune, KFYR-TV and myself met Dorgan. He introduced himself and called me by my first name. It was impressive.

So I don’t know what is going on today, but something has to change. Voters just aren’t going to continue to put up with these shenanigans.

Hillary Clinton lies to the American public, Jeb Bush throws Marco Rubio under the bus, Donald Trump calls Carly Fiorina ugly and says Rubio is a loser and Bernie Sanders does Clinton a favor and gets chastized for it.

Many of you can remember the 1960 debate between Kennedy and Nixon. It was completely different as the two candidates were cordial to each other and maybe that’s why even today, it still stands out as one of the most watched television programs.

What happened? Where did it go wrong over the years? We the voters want answers and action, not just lip service.