"I attribute the decline in the power of the Nonpartisan League in North Dakota chiefly to the blunders of the League itself," declared Walter W. Liggett, Deputy Commissioner of Immigration in the state of North Dakota and eastern representative of the Nonpartisan League, when interviewed recently by a representative of the CRIMSON. "We naturally are human and fallible and since the people of North Dakota are human and fallible they have drifted away from the movement. There have been several egregious blunders, perhaps the worst of which was the appointment of a very unpopular man defeated in his campaign for election as School Superintendent, to the State Board of Education. There too have been all kinds of irrelevant charges of atheism, of Bolshevis, of free love, and the like, levelled at us, and this has had its effect. Finally we have had to increase taxes in order to pay for a soldier's bonus and the increased cost of everything; our industrial program, I might add, has cost only a quarter of a cent an acre and has not been the cause of increased taxation.
Still Have Majority
"Our control of North Dakota has undoubtedly been shaken but we still have a majority. Some years ago we carried the state with over three fourths of the votes cast, while this last fall we got only 51 per cent of the votes. But the League has spread to other states. We have a membership of 250,000 in 13 states and had tickets up in 9 states this last fall, polling a gubernatorial vote of 1,245,000 in these 9 states, more than the Socialist and Farmer-Labor parties combined got in 48 states."
When asked what was the connection of the Nonpartisn League with the Farmer-Labor party, Mr. Liggett replied emphatically. "We have nothing to do with the Farmer-Labor Party and their organization has not affected our hold on the farmer, they did not even run a ticket in North Dakota." Mr. Liggett refused to say, however, either that the Farmer-Labor Party was headed to extinction or that the Nonpartian League would not amalgamate with the new party. "In fact I look to the emalgamation of all the radical parties in the country in about a year," he declared.
"The farmer has organized for purely economic reasons in order to guarantee himself a fair wage. The great milling trusts held and still hold the unorganized farmer in their hands. He cannot set the price for his article when he lives alone and is unorganized. Our industrial program includes a state mill and a state bank, both of which have proved very successful. By eliminating the profit of the middleman and the miller we have been able to sell wheat cheaper and pay more for it, and we've broken up the power of the banking and milling interests in North Dakota."
"What is the attitude of the Nonpartisan League to the Marxian theory of class welfare?" Mr. Liggett was asked. "Naturally being a farmer's organization we believe in working for the farmer. If we don't, who will. All classes are at bottom working for themselves. But we're not against any class. You can quote me, however, as saying that we believe in "proportional occupational representation."
"The legislation proposed in Congress will absolutely not help the farmer. The tariff now under consideration is designed to fool him not to help him. It is insincere and moreover economically foolish for our country which has become an exporting nation. Congress will not extend loans to the farmer and will not help him in sincerity until it has to; there will be no amelioration until the farmer organizes."