North Dakota AFL-CIO Legislature Watch Week ending 3-15-19

Brothers and Sisters,

This last week saw another hearing on Senate Concurrent Resolution 4001. This is the resolution that would change the constitutional ballot initiative system and make it impossible for citizens to ever change our state constitution. Along with a slew of other bills aimed at reducing the power of North Dakota citizens and direct democracy, this is a blunt attempt to gather even more power into the hands of a super-majority legislature many of whom never face realistic election challenges and are never held accountable for their votes.

The opponents of the ballot initiative system claim that direct democracy is bad, that it’s rule by the mob, that it is against the American principles of government. When I speak of the importance of democracy and the will of the people, I have had numerous legislators tell me that we are not a democracy, and are rather a republic, and in a republic, the people elect others to govern them and do not vote on issues directly. To these legislators, the people’s only power is to elect them to office.

On a federal level they are right, there is no federal ballot initiative system, but North Dakota is not the federal government. Under the federal system, states have chosen many different ways in which to govern themselves because we are separate entities and a one-size-fits-all approach never works well. Look at what’s happening in Washington. Does anyone serious think that the current deadlocked and partisan federal government should be the mandatory model for North Dakota?

Since our earliest days, North Dakota has relied on the wisdom of everyday folk to act as a counterbalance to the legislature. As the legislature drifts out of touch with the values of our citizens, the ballot initiative system has given us the power to stand together and vote directly on the issues most important to all of us. It has always been a potent way of pushing back on a group of people who tend to get the bit in their teeth and think that they know what we want more than we do. Because of this, we have the best ballot initiative system in the nation.

We will not give up that system now! We cannot surrender our basic freedoms! We can never relinquish our birthright!

The working people of North Dakota will never lay down and renounce their long-established power in their own state. We cannot allow the legislature to illegitimately strip our strength and authority over our own government. We are a practical folk who understand that the best governments are those in which the citizens take an active role.

We are North Dakotans. We must keep that active and legitimate role and not surrender to be solely governed by people who consider themselves our political betters.

Click the link and tell your legislators now.

Waylon Hedegaard
President/Secretary Treasurer
North Dakota AFL-CIO
[email protected]
(701) 595-3334