Les Leopold’s “Why Is Socialism Doing So Darn Well in Deep-Red North Dakota?” ponders why a state which just passed such restrictive women’s rights legislation would be “socialist” enough to have a state bank—the only state in the union to have such an entity.
How did this come to pass? Leopold rightly credits the Non-Partisan League:
In 1919, the Non-Partisan League, a vibrant populist organization, won a majority in the legislature and voted the bank into existence. The goal was to free North Dakota farmers from impoverishing debt dependence on the big banks in the Twin Cities, Chicago and New York.
Leopold equates socialism with the Progressive Party which brought North Dakota the state bank, but I don’t care to argue there may be some differences between the progressive movement and socialism at this point. Nonetheless, Leopold’s article does an excellent job of describing the differences between a state bank and corporately held banks.
However, Leopold does not mention that North Dakota also has a state grain elevator which grew out of this Progressive movement as well.
The “deep-red” that North Dakota has become today has little respect for the Progressive values which brought the state bank and state grain elevator. Perhaps because of the taint of “socialism.” From my perspective, this is exceedingly unfortunate as we watch corporate interests from outside the state move in with their windmill farms and their oil wells.
Our current “deep-red” legislators see no need for a state windmill operation or a state oil operation in the manner of their Progressive predecessors. Instead, they waste state tax dollars setting aside state monies to defend them from the laws they pass.
Were the North Dakota state legislators and it’s governor held personally accountable for the expense of defending their decisions, I suspect their votes to so severely restrict women’s rights would be on the cutting room floor.