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

Thursday, April 23, 2015

"The problem with politics isn’t Washington but the electorate."

The conventional commentators on politics seem to insist that the decline of the Democratic Party in South Dakota is because of some failures of the party  in gaining the approval of the electorate.  Over the years, as I maintained a list of the most active party members for Brown County, I have noted a demographic shift.  As attrition reduced the number of established Democrats, few people were there to replace them.  The children from Democratic families, especially those with political interests, have largely left the state.  As the county party held fund-raisers and campaign events in recent years,  they assumed a geriatric aspect,  and those most active in supporting and working for the party were decidedly older. Census and marketing data show that  people in Brown County who gravitated toward the liberal values and qualities promoted by the Democratic Party are being replaced by those who hold to the more discriminatory and excluding values of contemporary conservatism.  Current registration figures in the county show 9,612 Republicans, 9,300 Democrats, and 3,319 Independents.  Independents' voting shows that they lean toward the more conservative values and attitudes, although they also reflect a rejection of what politics has become.

All the would-be political strategists find fault with the personalities or campaigns of candidates, as if their pet theories could remedy all that ails the Democrats.  In reality, the constant self-sucking indulged by many Democrats is what repulses people, including members of their own party.  However, people cling to the assumption that campaigns manipulate the electorate, which is at the mercy and influence of strategists, while the fact is that the electorate has its own mindsets, composed as they are by prejudices, animosities, and values.  

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post takes on the notions about politics and quotes Rep. Alan Grayson:  “Essentially there are no undecided voters. Everybody has picked a team. The only question is, do your guys vote or not?”

 He cites a study by researchers at Princeton and Stanford, which finds:  "Americans now discriminate more on the basis of party than on race, gender or any of the other divides we typically think of — and that discrimination extends beyond politics into personal relationships and non-political behaviors."  Politics is now the hate game, and hatred is the controlling force in politics.  

The study finds:
In the contemporary American political environment, there is evidence of increasing hostility across party lines, which has been attributed to a variety of factors including candidates' reliance on negative campaigning and the availability of news sources with a clear partisan preference.

When political strategists are confronted with the deleterious effects of negative campaigning, they justify it because it works.  And the hate-mongering of people like Rush Limbaugh is dismissed as entertainment. We remind that public executions used to be entertainments for people, as they gatheedr en mass with picnic baskets to enjoy some poor wretches being hung or beheaded.   
South Dakota politics is dominated by a party which unabashedly promotes oppression and hatred as operating principles.  When people discuss the shortage of workers and their preferences for better pay and opportunity, they tend to leave out the political climate of South Dakota as a major factor.  When decrying the declining voter registrations of the Democratic Party,  they blame it on the failure of Democratic politicians to appeal to the voters, not to the possibility that people who subscribe to liberal ideas find the political climate of South Dakota hostile and unhealthy.  
Democrats are not leaving the party.  They are leaving the corrosive and morally depleted environment created by the other party.  Their priority is not winning elections.  It is finding a worthy and healthy life. As they leave, they leave the state to those who tolerate and even encourage oppression, corruption, and  injustice as the preferred way of life. 

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States