Politics in a democracy is about changing minds, and to change minds you need to get your message to the people you hope to persuade. Reformist groups throughout history have often run into opposition from the established mainstream media, which tends to be supportive of the current status quo structure. Being able to speak directly to supporters and the population as a whole has been critical to independent political movements. This is something the leadership of the Nonpartisan League strongly understood and why one of their first acts was to create their own paper.
|By: Jon Walker Sunday January 9, 2011 4:00 pm|
|By: Jon Walker Wednesday July 7, 2010 3:55 pm|
The people who benefit from the status quo will fight tooth and nail against movements to reform it. Any grassroots movement that tries to put the power back in the hands of regular people will inevitably be attacked by those who profit from having the power. As we have seen with the Nonpartisan League, its enemies smeared it, tried to subvert its message and stole its techniques.
|By: Jon Walker Tuesday July 6, 2010 3:15 pm|
Nonpartisan League founder A. C. Townley had a simple strategy to elect NPL members to state office in North Dakota. It relied on getting members to ignore their old political tribalism while taking advantage of others. Townley figured out that he could make use of a very recent development, the primary election of party nominees, to take over both major parties. Townley’s thinking was, why try to start a third party when, using the primary system, he could more easily take over the old ones?
|By: Jon Walker Monday July 5, 2010 12:00 pm|
At the turn of the 20th century, North Dakota’s population was mostly rural farmers, yet a small number of powerful corporate interests dominated the state’s politics and finances. The farmers took back political power with the founding of the Nonpartisan League. The Nonpartisan League started with a clear, precise platform that was simple to understand. The NPL asked supporters to sign a pledge to support the platform, and it expected them to support candidates endorsed by the NPL, regardless of political party, in order to create and maintain a tight association which could work toward a single goal.
|By: Jon Walker Sunday July 4, 2010 1:15 pm|
Instead of providing necessary services at a reasonable rate of profit, a powerful oligarchy of financial interests, led by the Chamber of Commerce, used its political power to bend or rewrite the rules. They squeezed regular people for every penny possible. This corrupt system led many into bankruptcy and despair. This same parasitic capitalism, caused by corporate ownership of our political system, recently ruined our economy and the gulf coast.
|By: Jon Walker Saturday July 3, 2010 12:48 pm|
The NPL was one of the most powerful political organizations in American history and the speed of its rise to power was unprecedented. The organization was formed in 1915 by two men sitting around a kitchen table. By 1918, it had taken complete control of the government of North Dakota and enacted much of its platform. Its success and failures hold a wealth of lessons for anyone interested in political organizations.