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

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Trapping weasels

As South Dakota Democrats go into the election year,  some continue to work diligently to insure they will lose and continue their fine tradition of whining, carping, and maligning candidates. And losing. After Dakota Free Press announced a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat, a number of commenters immediately piled on with disparaging comments.  They did the same when a candidate for the House seat announced.   The comments were joined, of course, by trolls from the dementia party.  They cannot understand that their responses to candidates are a reason qualified people do not become candidates and disassociate themselves from the party, as is a trend.   

They offer their critiques under the pretense of possessing political acumen,  but their political work is for the most part limited to their emissions of bad gas over their keyboards, and their actual experience does not include doing any actual, constructive work involved in campaigns and party business. (Some commenters excepted, of course.) And so, we face another dreary election year, where members of both parties sink the state further into small-minded disparagement. 

Still, there are stalwart people like Cory Heidelberger and Rick Weiland who work industriously and conscientiously to  address issues and try to steer political attention away from the mean-girl obsessions to things that can improve human life.  Rick Weiland conducted a campaign for Senate that was a model of industry and integrity.  Those aspects of human conduct don't matter in South Dakota.  Cory Heidelberger produces a blog, that unlike some from the opposing side,  rises above insult and abuse and focuses on facts , performance, and their consequences.  When fair criticism is merited,  he addresses misdeeds and foolery, and states his viewpoint.  However, many commenters cannot deal with life on that level.  

We have a cultural strain in South Dakota as represented by the dominant political party whose idea of success is determined by how many  people they can fuck over,  to use nomenclature from the military.  The constant and false defamations of minorities, the poor, and  the different-from-them in any way express the basic malice that drives them.  It is to them that "reality" figures such as Donald Trump have appeal.  Analysts pointed out that Trump and his kind know the dark underside of America and direct their appeals to the ignorant, maliciously bigoted, and stupid.   The chipping away at comprehensive education in the country by conservatives has created the undereducated, easily manipulated, enrageable dullards that meet the neocon standard of a docile. obedient electorate.  There is no other explanation for the quality of mind and character of many of the people elected to and retained in  office in South Dakota during the last 12 years,  if you examine the kinds of campaigns that have won elections during that time.  And there is no other explanation for why a huge segment of the electorate responds to the kind of things that comprise the campaigns of the  GOP presidential candidates.  

A hopeful note in South Dakota for Democrats is in recent efforts to review and publish the actual records of the GOP elected officials.  In January when Rep. Kristi Noem made noises of concern about the failings of the Indian Health Service,  the South Dakota Democratic Party issued a press release documenting her duplicity,  pointing out that she had voted against a bill to adequately fund the program.  Democrats have noted that the state's Republican Congressional delegation of Thune, Noem, and Rounds do nothing but recite the inane and false talking points provided by party hacks.  A few Democrats and some past campaign staffers have thought that the state party is remiss in not maintaining a record of the duplicity, the failures, and the inanities of Republican elected officials.  

Such a record would not be compiled as the pretext for attacks,  but as a record of what the elected officials actually have done.  It would gain credibility for citing actual accomplishments but hold them permanently accountable for things they did wrong, for corrupt practices, for false statements, and for failures.   John Thune has a long record of fecklessness and inane legislative statements and proposals.  Mike Rounds as governor presided over the corruption of the EB-5 scam and has been allowed to claim lack of knowledge of things that he was known to be involved in with people he appointed.  Kristi Noem closely copies Thune as reader of partisan can't and a devotee of false premises.

In South Dakota,  the majority of voters havel supported their Republican officials even with the smoke of corruption constantly whirling about them.  Keeping the record of those officials might not immediately win Democrats any elections.  The preponderance of voters are interested in pursuing the oppression of minorities, women, and the educated.  South Dakota is a leader in the trend toward regressive policies in which racism and corrupt  oppression are cherished principles.  However, such a record would lay a base of established verifiable facts by which citizens of the future and the rest of the world can define the state.  And it would the Democratic Party a substantial platform from which to  launch its campaigns.

It a time when the incoherent and factless rantings of Donald Trump and the puerile exchanges of insults dominate the news about political discourse,  it is unlikely that the truth matters much and will set anyone free from the chains of petty malice  in which the GOP has wrapped itself.  More likely, the nation will erupt into overt clashes of the kind experienced in the civil right era.  That's why a careful stewardship of the facts is needed as the basis for rebuilding a nation that has been shattered and rendered into dysfunction by one-percenters such as Trump and the culture that admires him.  While the U.S. is mired in the infantile rages of the GOP,  the rest of the world needs to see those Americans who stand for intellectual integrity and moral competence.  Someday, maybe the nation will seek to rebuild itself as a responsible participant in the affairs of humankind.  

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States