Cramer speaks at Wenstrom Lecture

Nick Sallen, Editor in Chief

In the past, North Dakota was run by Democrats. From 1961 to 1992, there was one four-year period with a Republican governor holding office. Being a young political activist, Congressman Kevin Cramer helped fuel the Republican party’s revival in 1992 when Ed Schafer, former interim president at UND, became governor. Since then the state’s governorship has been Republican.

“All we’ve done since that time is win elections, but I know full well that the pendulum swings. When a window opens, it can close in a hurry,” Cramer said.

As the featured speaker for this year’s Wenstrom Lecture in the Gorecki Alumni Center, Cramer talked about the changing landscape of North Dakota politics. During the talk, Cramer answered questions from the audience covering a wide range of topics including: President Trump, recent military action in Syria, freedom of the press, the Affordable Care Act, internet privacy and more local issues like energy development and agriculture.

Cramer believes the pendulum swinging in the early 1990’s was caused by a large political shift in North Dakota’s largest economic factor at the time, agriculture. Cramer claims  Democrats saw agriculture as a “needy” industry, whereas Republicans and a majority of farmers viewed the industry as more dynamic.

“In fact, Democrats still see agriculture as this needy thing,” Cramer said.

Cramer added that farmers prefer minimal regulations and a moderate safety net over heavy subsidies and regulations.

On the topic of energy development, Cramer voiced his support for oil and coal energy development in the state while supporting a diminishing in environmental protections. As an author of Trump’s energy plan, Cramer is a proponent for free-market energy development which doesn’t give subsidies. He has been described by Reuters as “one of America’s most ardent drilling advocates.” He is opposed to the regulations imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and plans to withdraw the U.S from the Paris climate agreement.

Cramer’s support of President Trump got him a spot on the U.S House Conference Steering Committee, where he oversees the representation from less populated states, and helps appoint chairmen. Cramer also serves on the House Committee for Natural Resources and Science and Technology.

Cramer does not support cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is a major source of funding for research institutions, UND included. Instead, Cramer called for a $2 billion increase in their budget, arguing that the additional funding would be a good investment for developing cures and treatments to diseases.

The Frank Wenstrom Lecture is a yearly event hosted by the UND Department of Political Science and Public Administration. The event is named after Frank A. Wenstrom, a Republican former lieutenant governor and senator for North Dakota. It is meant to highlight topics of public services and politics affecting the state.

Nick Sallen is the Editor in Chief for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]