New North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum is generally receiving positive reviews for his first several weeks in office. But the guy who made his millions and possibly billions at Fargo’s Great Plains Software and then Microsoft insists on treating every day like “casual Friday” by wearing jeans, shirts and sweaters while he’s working, and even to more formal events like his own inauguration, at which suits and tuxedos are worn.

    New North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum is generally receiving positive reviews for his first several weeks in office. But the guy who made his millions and possibly billions at Fargo’s Great Plains Software and then Microsoft insists on treating every day like “casual Friday” by wearing jeans, shirts and sweaters while he’s working, and even to more formal events like his own inauguration, at which suits and tuxedos are worn.

    That apparent fashion faux pas has spurred more negative grumblings from North Dakota legislators and other supposedly important people than anything else Burgum has done so far as governor. A bunch of male legislators are huffing and puffing about Burgum’s insistence on wearing casual attire, since they wear suits and ties while in session, and it all came to a head late last week when Burgum, wearing jeans, was told to leave the senate floor after participating in a photo opportunity with some kids. Wearing jeans on the N.D. Senate or House floor is a no-no, you see. Burgum’s spokesperson said the first-term governor meant no disrespect.

    Sorry, but stories like these are funny. They’re funny because citizens, voters, casual observers, political junkies, left-wingers and right-wingers can’t help but laugh when our elected officials are suddenly so concerned about respect and decorum and dignity and courtesy, even when it comes to the clothes someone chooses to wear, and yet they spend so much time in office treating those they disagree with on the other side of the political aisle so horribly.

    If Burgum eventually does great things for North Dakota, who cares what he wears?

    A generation or two or three ago, Republicans and Democrats on both the state and national level, naturally, disagreed on a lot of things. But you might see a few Republicans and Democrats out having dinner together, or a drink, or playing a round of golf. And they’d hammer out legislation that left both sides wanting more; lawmakers from both parties knew if they wanted to get anything accomplished, they weren’t going to get everything they wanted.

    Now, none of that happens. Politicians that have to deliver to their base and follow party leadership don’t even talk to their colleagues in the other party. At least not face to face; they just rip them to shreds through the media. For eight years they don’t even consider any legislation put forth by the president from the opposition party; instead, every last bit of it is “dead on arrival.”

    That kind of behavior is now essentially the norm in these so-called hallowed halls and walls of our state legislatures, and congress, too. Senators are told to sit down for simply reading a letter that’s pertinent to the current debate. A legislator shouts “Liar!” during a president’s speech.

    Following so-called decorum and protocol by responding to “My good friend...” or “My distinguished colleague...” during a debate on the floor? Hollow, empty words, at best. They’re not friends, and they don’t think of each other as at all distinguished. So why even bother pretending?

    And why bother getting all up in arms over someone wears? Wear decades-old sweatpants and a salsa-stained t-shirt if you want. Just do your job and get something meaningful accomplished.