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Editorial: October 2016

Making democracy work



Josh Kramer, NDAREC executive vice president and general manager
Josh Kramer

October, in our “co-op world,” means National Cooperative Month. For the past five decades, cooperatives from all sectors across the nation have banded together to celebrate Co-op Month, pointing to the value cooperatives have created for their members and the impact of cooperatives on our communities. With one of the cooperative principles being “concern for community,” let's celebrate Cooperative Month by actively participating in our government.

 In general election years, October is also the time when political campaigns are in full swing. We, as citizens, are evaluating who we believe will be the best people to hold our national, state and local public offices. With the convenience and variety of early voting options, more and more people are making these decisions and voting well before election day, which, this year, is Tuesday, Nov. 8. We, at the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, are proud to dedicate this issue of North Dakota Living to showcase current statewide candidates and ballot measures.

 Obviously, we encourage you to vote, on or before Election Day. We also encourage you to take the time to do your own research on the candidates and the issues. Visit their websites and informational pages, compare positions and perspectives, and make an attempt to understand positions even though they may differ from your own.

 I further encourage looking for common ground. Too often, we get so caught up in the desire to defend where we fit in the political spectrum, we sometimes fail to recognize areas of agreement. In today’s political climate, I wish there would be more attempts to compromise, rather than defend and point out who is right and who is wrong.

 We may all become tired of the advertisements, the phone calls and the rhetoric associated with politics. But I firmly believe that most who get into politics genuinely want to “serve” and make things better, for all of us — even though philosophies and priorities may vary greatly. It remains important that we show respect to those who are willing to put their names on the ballot, even if we disagree with their positions.

 In tribute to candidates who have the courage to step into competitive politics in these challenging times, I conclude by pointing to the hallowed passage from President Theodore Roosevelt’s famous speech, “The Man in the Arena”: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Mandan. Comments can be mailed to Josh Kramer, NDAREC, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727 or by email