I lived in the South. I learned an important lesson there. Before doing something stupid that may end up either horrific or just entertaining, you have to say, “y’all hold my beer and watch this.”
Consider it said.
Let’s get to it. I’m grabbing the third rail. National politics. On the Internet.
And for the weary and apathetic among you, don’t worry; I’m not going to try to convince you of anything. At the end, there’s an invitation, nothing more.
For the rest of you political animals, string your bows and load your powder – I’m coming out from cover. Get ready to take your shots.
I’ve made an observation about us. We elect people to do political jobs, and then we blame them when they become politicians. It’s unfortunate. It’s also reality. This might be because unless you’ve done the job, it’s hard to understand it.
The fact is, elected work’s tough work if we can get it. When it’s done well, it requires listening, compromise, and dealmaking. That’s never popular with those who supported us. It takes planning, strategy, and execution. Sometimes we have to hold our nose and do things that disgust us because that’s the best option available.
It means surrendering when a fight is lost. Because it’s better to save powder, friends, and allies for some future fight. There’s always another one coming.
The work is fraught with selfish interest and sometimes even corruption that must be sussed out and navigated. Along the way, we’ve got roughly half the people quietly hoping we fail so they can get their shot at the job. And if anything we do – such as acting in our city’s, state’s, or country’s best interest instead of our party’s or someone’s personal interests, it is taken as a betrayal, and we’re dumped for the next pandering candidate.
On top of all those pitfalls and traps, our leaders must inspire us – especially those who work for us in government. Anyone who has done the job knows all those rosy campaign promises must also pass through the fourth branch, the bureaucracy.
It’s a fact that invites a question: is calling government workers names and telling them how terrible they are a good way to motivate them? Should we be surprised when bureaucrats slowplay reform efforts or act directly against them when they’re labeled the villain? The answer is no; we shouldn’t be surprised. We should expect it.
Great politicians know all these things from the start. Good politicians learn quickly. Those who fail the lessons rarely remain in office.
Tonight, the Governor of North Dakota will step on to the national stage for the first time. If you’re not from here, you’ve probably never heard of him. I’ve watched him from the beginning of his political career. He is not only a great politician who has been great for North Dakota, but he’s also an inspiring leader.
His name is Doug Burgum, and he’ll have six or seven minutes to make an impression tonight. If he performs well and gets the bump he needs to keep going, it’s off to the races. That’s how the process works.
But I’m still sort of an idealist. I’m naive enough to believe that if people like you and me stick our neck out together, if we whisper to our friends, we can change the course of things that seem beyond our control.
And I don’t care what your political persuasion is, we all benefit when great candidates rise. They will push us up whether they win or not just by raising the level of the conversation. This guy is a great candidate, and he’s arriving at a moment when we desperately need the tone of the conversation changed.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Watch for yourself; here’s a North Dakota State of the State speech from 2018 – long before Presidential aspirations played into his politics. The authenticity and passion are on display right from the start. You’ll have to watch longer to see the vision, strategy, and capability.