Born in North Dakota in 1915, the NPL empowered disadvantaged citizens to directly engage in electoral politics. It defied the common assumption that agrarians could not transcend regional, ethnic, and economic differences to vote as a bloc. Growing out of co-operative movements and influenced by Socialist Party organizers, NPL members used the open primary to take over the state’s dominant Republican Party in 1916. They touted a program of government competition that set up state-owned enterprises to challenge private corporations in various economic sectors.
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