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Port: A jaded conservative acknowledges government competence

By Staff | Jul 28, 2017

As a conservative, my preference is for small and relatively unobtrusive government.

In fact, many of the problems I have with our friends on the left is that so many liberal ideas are born of hubris. An inability to grasp the limits of government’s ability to achieve desired outcomes.

Take climate change, for instance. I have no doubt that temperatures are rising – global temperatures have risen and fallen throughout history – and that there is an anthropogenic aspect to it.

To suggest that the cumulative activity of billions of the billions of human beings on our planet has no impact on climate patterns is ridiculous.

What seems the height of arrogance to me, though, is the idea that we can control global weather patterns with, say, tax policy.

Liberals would do well to mix in a healthy dollop of skepticism of government power in their policy proposals.

But on the flip side, perhaps we conservatives could try to understand that sometimes government really does do things well.

I got a glimpse of that first hand recently in western North Dakota.

I’m on vacation this week, and spent a few days in Medora where federal, state, and private forces have come together to build something pretty special.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the federal component, is an absolute treasure. It is home to important history, not to mention a breathtaking natural beauty, and is operated with a competence typical of the National Park Service.

Meanwhile, the Chateau de Mores run by the North Dakota State Historical Society is an attraction worthy of more attention than it gets. It serves as a window into a rich and colorful part of our region’s history, and the state does a good job of operating it. The chateau itself, along with the accompanying museum, are well maintained and a pleasure to visit. The staff, meanwhile, was kind and helpful.

Not to mention knowledgeable about the history and artifacts they’re presenting in a way that can only come from a very real and personal sort of passion for it.

Finally, there’s the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by businessman Harold Schafer (father to former Gov. Ed Schafer) which operates the Medora Musical among other attractions in the area.

These three forces – federal, state, and private – have come together to form something special in Medora. A major regional attraction for tourism and commerce.

The success serves as proof, even to this jaded skeptic, that the government isn’t always in the way of good things happening.

Sometimes it’s conducive to it.

Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Follow him on Twitter at @RobPort

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