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Friday, November 30, 2018

America has changed. How many can face up to it?

South Dakota dwells at the bottom of most statistical measurements of quality of life, such as average salaries, affordability of education, health care, etc.  But it seems to be the bellwether for the U.S. retreat into antebellum conservatism.   By antebellum conservatism, I am referring to the revival of pre-Civil War conditions of human life as a social objective.  A racism which advocates the denigration and oppression of minorities is a constant.   South Dakota often competes with Mississippi for first place in financial, cultural, and social impoverishment.

Liberty, equality, and justice, which includes freedom from corruption, have been voted down in the Dakotas.  Ten years ago, the U. S. congressional delegations from North and South Dakota seem to offer equal chances for both Republicans and Democrats to hold offices.  In fact,15 years ago the congressional seats in both states were held by Democrats.  Today, the election of a Democrat in a statewide race in either of the Dakota's seems impossible.  Heidi Heitkamp may have been the last person in the Dakotas to run as a Democrat in a statewide election and get elected.  But this month, she was not re-eledted.  As Stephanie Herseth Sandlin did in South Dakota before her, she  adopted a "moderate" political stance to appease the conservative streak that Dakotans cling to.  The problem, as they both found out, is that conservatives won't settle for a tepid conservatism, and the liberal base doesn't see any difference between such a candidate and a conservative one.  Many liberals feel betrayed by such a stance.  A liberal candidate has little statistical chance in the Dakotas.  The Republican voter registrations far outnumber the Democrats.

Alleged political strategists keep coming up with a bit of advice to Democrats if they wish to be viable in the Dakotas. That advice is to offer more appeal to the voters, which means aping the GOP, offering more of what the Republicans appeal to.  As the winning GOP campaigns in the 2018 elections have demonstrated, what has appealed to the majority of voters in the Dakotas is tolerance for corruption (it can make you rich),  voter suppression of the tribal nations, and politicians who make blatantly dishonest  and malicious statements about their opponents.  Dakotans really like that kind of behavior in their preferred leaders.  A large number of Americans do, too.  That is why Trump is president.  It is not credible that the people who voted for him did not know what kind of person he is.

In North Dakota, a law was passed by the GOP legislature that voters had to show a photo id with their residential address on it.  As the reservations where Native Americans are not laid out in a grid  numbered and named streets and roads, their ids do not list a street address.  So, they were not considered qualified to vote.  Although, the native nations took measures to address the problem, the logistics for doing so were formidable, and many were unable to vote.

South Dakota enacts its oppression by refusing to establish polling places that make it easier for those Native Americans who live in remote locations to vote.

In justifying their refusals to accommodate the indigenous populations, both states repeat the Trumpian lie about voter fraud.   People accept these lies.  They prefer them to the actual facts, which refute them.  Trump lies and makes accusations that have no basis in fact.  His voice speaks to and for the 63 million people who voted for him.  They make up falsehoods to justify their prejudices and hatreds.  And they act upon them as if they were facts.

It is hard for even those who oppose bigotry and fascism that America is being dominated by those who engage in the very kind of thoughts and deeds we fought against in World War II.  With its prophets such as Limbaugh and Trump and their political agents in the U. S. House and Senate, the advocates of malice toward all but themselves represent what America has become.

Hate crimes have increased by 17 percent since 2016.  We have a mass shooting almost every week in America.  But there are those who call for moderation, who say we should not see the political opposition as enemies, but should regard them as neighbors who just have different political opinions.  In a nation led by a man whose every utterance is an expression of  malice, and whose minions connive to suppress the vote, defame people of color and shoot unarmed people down in the streets, it is like saying we should accept with grace any invitations we get to the gas oven.  The world has been here before.

The first problem is to face up to what, in fact, America has become.   The 2018 elections have provided a chance to change the direction of the country.  But now, we are warned against investigating Trump and his disciples too aggressively.  We might offend and cause a backlash from our neighbors.  That is a denial of what and who is in possession of America. The Trumpets are not going to be influenced by extensions of good will, by facts, or reason.

Germany of the 1930s gives us a social map of what happens when good people accommodate evil.  How many Americans have the intellectual honesty and the courage to face up to what America has become?  Because if there is anything in America worth saving, they are the ones who must do it.

Or will we follow South Dakota into the gas oven?


Anonymous said...

Well said Dr. Newquist, well said. So where do we go from here? South Dakotan's refuse to believe that our congress people, colluded to keep the truth from us. They knew full well of the collusion between trump and the Russian government because of their positions. Thune was number 3 in republican leadership, he was not some backbencher. I intend to not follow South Dakota into that gas chamber, along with you and other like minded, I think I will resist vigorously.

Anonymous said...

2018 South Dakota election ended any hope for change in the state and am grateful I no longer live there. Now I am helping evacuate family, a few friends from SD and always fill up with gas along with anything else we may need before I cross the border. We try to keep spending to a bare minimum in SD.

Where I live people especially Republicans are shocked when I tell them about all the scandals and corruption in South Dakota. They always mention the state having no income tax and the Republicans here imagine it as some Utopia with a low cost of living until they find out it is all a marketing myth. When they hear the truth it helps eliminate South Dakota in any future plans.

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