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William Foss, Published March 29 2012

GOP convention theme falls flat

Recently, I learned that the North Dakota GOP’s theme for its convention is going to be “Leading the Nation.” I expect delegates and others in attendance will hear from their elected leaders how North Dakota leads the nation in low unemployment, budget surpluses, economic and population growth, and personal income expansion. I bet they’ll also claim it was because of their leadership that North Dakota is “leading the nation.”

I offer another explanation for why North Dakota is No. 1 in these areas. Make no mistake about it, we are fortunate to be in our current situation compared to the rest of the country. We are fortunate for the God-given natural resources that have created jobs, allowed for rapid revenues into the state coffers, skewed the income data for the state, and slowed the out-migration of people. We are also fortunate for unprecedented commodity prices in oil and agriculture – neither of which are dictated by North Dakota’s GOP leadership.

What delegates and attendees likely won’t hear at the North Dakota GOP convention is how North Dakota is “leading the nation” in lowest teachers’ pay, number of people working two or more jobs, high suicide and domestic abuse rates, lack of affordable health care for poor children, waiting lists for Head Start education, federal funds received per capita and lack of government transparency. “Leading the nation” in these categories is unacceptable.

Here is the catch: Those areas where we lead are preventable if we have decent leadership in Bismarck. We need people who are willing to speak the truth and responsibly use and prioritize the God-given natural resources in this state to make sure we no longer lead the nation in these embarrassing categories.