News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to MinneKota@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The professor won over the CEO

There are aspects of Obama's win that haven't been mentioned in the legacy media.  One of the most important is that the Romney candidacy posed a serious threat to the civil rights gains made over the last four decades.  Those threats have been rebuffed and delayed, but from the tenor of this campaign, we also know that they have been stimulated and will not vanish. 

Some gains have been made.  Whether one approves of gay marriages or blowing pot or not, the nation has affirmed  by public ballot a trend to move past its predilection for imposing its personal preferences on other people's lives.  At this point, many people are willing to let gay people form supportive relationships and live productive lives, whatever their sexual preferences.  And two states, Colorado and Washington, have taken measures to end the wasteful and destructive obsession with thrusting petty pot smokers into the criminal justice system.  I am not personally an endorser of marijuana--I have witnessed strange effects in others from it--but a number of pastors and social workers have told me that alcohol is much worse for its deleterious social effects than cannabis.  And then I have a child who was  diagnosed with diabetes in college.  Her endocrinologist told her in front of her parents that if she was to engage in the usual collegiate socializing, pot would be far less harmful to her health than alcohol.  And so, we learn to surmount our culturally induced notions.

The big factor emerging from this election is that the demographics are changing.  Obama's biggest supporters were minorities, women and young people.   They made the difference in a number of states.  Former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele states that if the Republican Party is to be anything but a lost tribe wandering in the desert, it will have to face the demographic reality.  He points out that 75 percent of Latinos voted for Obama, and every month 50,000 young Latinos are coming into voting age.  Old white men are shrinking in numbers and are neither cognizant nor interested in who comprises the vital segment of our population.

In South Dakota, a provincially estranged mentality rules.  Its demographic trend is the opposite of the nation's.  The small-minded and intolerant mentality has gained dominance in recent years.  It threw Tom Daschle out of office with the feckless John Thune whose major talent is to relentlessly recite party-line banalities that have no relevance to what is developing in the nation.  It did the same with Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, and we have re-elected a congresswoman whose fecklessness exceeds John Thune's and who celebrates the anti-intellectual, anti-education agenda that keeps the state immobilized culturally.  However, she was awarded a college degree which people who know how college education works do not think she earned.  At least, not under the requirements applied to other graduates.  

There is a movement in South Dakota to revitalize rural life.    However, the political majority and the  people who comprise it give talented young people no reason to be in South Dakota and every reason to leave.  I think of the history of this blog.  Eight years ago, it had four women contributing to it and editing it.  They were very quick to realize that political blogs produced no intelligent and productive discussion and simply provided those given to petty, small-minded nastiness targets at which to direct efforts.  They quickly left blogging and diverted their energies to more productive enterprises.  However, all four the women have also left the state since that time.  One of them, Erin, has been involved in a university study of blogs and says the studies reveal that blogs are to the world of communication what biker gangs such as Hell's Angels are to civilization.  She said the study demonstrates that conservative-oriented blogs are devoted to cultural, racial, and political defamation and their claim to be citizen journalism is not borne out by the kind of material they actually produce.  

In my own voting district, South Dakota District 3, the adherence to small-minded, uninformed life prevails with a vengeance.   It rejected two legislative candidates with extensive credentials in public life for two incumbents who dutifully mumble the old party line.  H. Paul Dennert is a longtime legislator, previously from District 2, who has a legendary command of taxing and fiscal matters.  He was rejected in favor of Al Novstrup.  On the House side, his son David was chosen over Bill Antonides, a retired conservation officer who knows the county, its people, and its resources like no one else. My district followed the Noem rule, denigrating knowledge and education and mindlessly reciting political bromides that have no relevance to anything productive and progressive.  `

@Sherman_Alexie: As always, liberal white women voters
 are the superstars of human rights.
Mitt Romney made a strenuous test of American character. It is incomprehensible that a person who ran the kind of campaign and demonstrated the traits of character he did would find support from any but the racist and ignorant fringes.  The bitter comments of the Republican supporters reveal a mindset incapable of grasping what is occurring in this country and why people would support Obama.  The Tea Party was not vanquished, but it took a beating.  In my old home district in Illinois, a man who rode the Tea Party frenzy into Congress was deposed by a woman journalist whose campaign directly confronted Bain Capital, which closed  a long-time factory in the district in Freeport, Ill., and shipped 300 jobs to China.  Then, Tammy Duckworth, the war hero, won the seat held by a Tea Party spouter of conservative kookery, Joe Walsh, from suburban Chicago.  The Senate will have a new caucus of women to reflect the changing demography in America.  But South Dakota still plods backward.  

Obama's first term has worked toward ending a couple of pointless and resource-consuming wars, but it escalated the culture wars, which get energy from racism and a blind devotion to corporate fascism.  It would be foolery to think that all the overtures for joint effort and cooperation will close the political divide or lessen the rancor.  The dream of a corporate feudal state and a resurgence of Jim Crow is the cherished American dream for many on the right.  It will be the subject of talk radio, regressive blogs, with agitation from cable news.  Read the conservative reaction to Obama's win on the blogs and come to terms with the  fact that a large political force would like to take America back to that state.

For a time, enough people saw through the bluff and bluster and menace of a boss, a CEO, and chose a professor.  But in places like South Dakota which are stridently anti-education, anti-intellectual, and culturally repressive, the professor will be cause for more revilement.  The liberal-leaning will have to depend on leaders from outside the state to speak for and look out for their interests.  That doesn't mean that some important work cannot be done in the state to lift the rule of bigoted, old white men.  Indians on the reservations still live under the conditions created by violations of treaties which are still nominally in force.  We can join the forces of justice to correct that, beginning with a reasonable settlement over the Black Hills.  Wounded Knee is an operating force, not a land mark of a racist past.  It needs to be rectified. 

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States

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