North Dakota Progressive-- A Guest Post By Marvin Nelson, The Only Democrat In America Trying To Win An Open Red Gubernatorial Seat
Sometimes there's no incentive for the party bosses like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Steve Israel, Ed Rendell and Chuck Schumer to stick their noses into races and these glorified ward healers let Democratic voters pick their own candidates. That's what happened in North Dakota, where Bernie swept the state caucuses and beat Hillary 64.2 to 25.6%, including big wins in Fargo, Grand Forks and Bismarck and winning 13 of the state's 18 delegates. One of Bernie's biggest champions in the state is Marvin Nelson, the progressive Democratic candidate for Governor in North Dakota, he state Representative for the 9th district in the north central part of the state (Rolla, Dunseith, Rolette),. Nelson is a small business owner who is running as a proud Bernie Democrat in this open seat race against a self funding billionaire, Doug Burgum, who very blatantly bought his primary victory over the sitting state Attorney General, Wayne Stenehjem.
I asked Marvin write about what it means to be a progressive in North Dakota, since it isn't something most of us know much about. Below is his guest post. Please consider contributing to his campaign here after you read it.
Moving The Progressive Agenda Forward-- In North Dakota
-by Rep. Marvin Nelson,
candidate, Governor of North Dakota
The fight for progressive thought is woven throughout North Dakota; it goes beyond political party, geography, and demographics. It’s a part of who we are.
For over 100 years, since the Non-Partisan League first formed in North Dakota, the progressive movement has influenced how we think and how we vote.
In 1915, a group of farmers banded together to fight against treatment they received at the hands of business, especially the grain trade, banks and railroads. Together, they formed the Non-Partisan League. In those early days, the movement grew from an agrarian fight to a larger cooperative movement that strove for more equitable capitalism. They built the State Mill and Elevator to regulate the grain trade, and the State Bank, to provide fair access to capital.
Today, we still have these important entities. They have served us well, even in the face of regular attempts to disband them.
Cooperatives can be found everywhere-- you’ll recognize them in the local gas station, the telephone company, and the electric companies. Cooperatives have turned the lights on in North Dakota and have brought our people the essential services we all depend on today.
The Progressive thought of our cooperatives still battles against the corporate interests that continue-- to this day-- to take advantage of people. If we band together once more, we can stop them.
The stories of Alexander McKenzie holding nightly court to control the legislature to favor railroads and grain companies are infamous, and the influence of corporations today through special interests, donors, and lobbyists isn’t that much different. McKenzie was the early political boss of North Dakota, he was successful in getting the capital moved to Bismarck, where he was sheriff, and could control the government. For McKenzie, friendly legislators got the things they wanted. Those who opposed him were pushed aside and ignored. The names have changed, but not much else.
The conflict between the people and the corporations is as pronounced today as it has ever been. The state recently had to cut its budget. Cut were daycare, homemaker services for senior citizens, treatment for opioid addiction, and Medicaid. Not cut were tax credits for real estate developers, for funds to invest in companies having nothing to do with North Dakota, for funding endowments, even new signs at the state capital. In short, poor and disabled were cut, the wealthiest were not. We also have an extremely inadequate worker's compensation system, where severely injured are harassed until they quit and benefits are so low, injured workers cannot support themselves; every worker is at risk of financial disaster.
I am running to be Governor of North Dakota, this is the only Republican-held Governor's seat that is open this election cycle and there is great dissatisfaction with the status quo. My theme is a North Dakota for all North Dakotans. Our reservations are a model of chronic poverty. The legislative majority refused to make it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation. Anti-Citizen's United legislation got only the minimum attention allowed. Women are still second class citizens.
Together, we must band as one again. We must fight for workers’ rights through union strength-- not the corporate interests masked beneath the crushing "right to work" movement. Let’s raise wages. Let’s fight for equal pay for equal work. Let’s fight for a living wage. Let's fight for paid sick days and paid family and medical leave! Human rights belong to people, not corporations. People should be free to be who they are without fear of discrimination.
Together, let us take on this fight. Let us move the Progressive agenda forward.