Port: North Dakota Republicans increasingly getting burned by Trumpy loons

This strategy playing nice with lunatics will eventually blow up and start costing Republicans elections.

A supporter tips his hat as President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a campaign-style rally at Scheels Arena in Fargo, North Dakota, on Wednesday night, June 27, 2018.
Tom Brenner / The New York Times
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MINOT, N.D. — There are two recent anecdotes that may illustrate some buyer's remorse North Dakotan Republicans have when it comes to Trumpism.

The first is the assault on North Dakota's Secretary of State's Office coming from the disciples of pillow salesman Mike Lindell. These mouth breathers, out to find evidence of an election conspiracy they've already decided exists, are harassing state and local election officials with absurd requests for information.

To be clear, open records requests are serious business, but not when made by unserious people. When these doofuses (doofi?) are confronted with the fact that their knowledge of how our elections actually work is so erroneous that the records they're requesting don't exist, they react like all conspiracy theorists react. They simply expand the conspiracy and accuse state and local officials of hiding information.

But here's the thing: Secretary of State Al Jaeger is a Republican. Now he's under attack from people who also think of themselves as Republicans for supposedly facilitating election fraud in a state where Republicans almost never lose.

Attorney General Drew Wrigley is a Republican too, but that didn't keep him from being lumped into fevered online accusations about North Dakota officials supposedly letting a "crazed leftist" murder an 18-year-old kid for being a Republican with impunity.


Shannon Brandt, the man allegedly responsible for Cayler Ellingson's death, is absolutely facing real consequences. He's charged with felony vehicular homicide, but that charge could change as the investigation into the matter uncovers new facts. Among them, perhaps, just how important the political predilections of either man played into the incident.

"Do we want conservatism to be seen as a pragmatic set of principles for balancing our collective need for a government with the rights of individuals? Or the gospel of some fire-and-brimstone bible-thumper who has never met a conspiracy theory he didn't cotton to?"
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Responsible and reasonable people might wait for some of those facts to be established before they jump to conclusions. Just as they might also wonder why there's so much fuss about stolen elections when there's been no compelling evidence revealed of widespread election fraud in the nearly two years since the 2020 election.

It's clear that there is a contingent of very active, very energized people who think of themselves as right-of-center and are willing to buy just about any load of horse manure that comes their way as long as it conforms to things they want to believe.

Like Trump didn't really lose the last election.

Or that there really are bands of crazed liberals out to murder Republicans.

For a while now, many Republicans, including many North Dakota Republicans, have been fine with tapping into the energy of these people.

It was expedient, they thought. It brought people out to the polls to vote for the GOP.

Only, as this mendacious movement begins to turn on Republicans, they seem poised to reap the whirlwind.


"Truth will out," as Shakespeare noted. There will come a time when the election conspiracists and Trumpy social media mobs will be what defines Republicans for the average American voter.

This strategy playing nice with lunatics will eventually blow up and start costing Republicans elections. Including here in North Dakota, where it can seem as though it's impossible for a Republican to lose.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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