The Common Good

Senator Tim Mathern: Red State Passes Peace Resolution

I've been told that some Americans can't find North Dakota on the map. We can be considered backward (like some of the folks in the movie Fargo), which is untrue. Our state legislature recently passed North Dakota's own Peace Resolution (Senate Concurrent Resolution 4022), a progressive piece of legislation that has thrived in this red state. The resolution calls for the pursuit of peace in Iraq and Afghanistan. It voices support for our troops, urging their return - with or without a successful conclusion of their efforts.

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The secrets to our success:

1) Public opinion in North Dakota disapproves of the escalation of war in Iraq.
2) The resolution had bipartisan sponsorship.
3) North Dakota's peace community rallied around the resolution with all of their force and grace.
4) The military community was welcomed as an ally in the mutual goal of supporting our troops.

Some of my colleagues argued that the language could have been stronger. Yes, the resolution could have set a timeline for withdrawal or addressed specific foreign policy. I am pleased with the outcome of this process, however. We made it as challenging as we could for risk-averse legislators to vote their conscience and their hope - peace in the Middle East.

In my 20 years as a senator, I have never heard the word peace with such frequency in the legislative halls. This is better than a good start. In the Peace Garden state, this may be the least that we will do.

Tim Mathern is a North Dakota state senator and attended Harvard's Kennedy School of Government when Jim Wallis taught a class there in 2000.

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