Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Minor Musing About The Wismer Candidacy

Last Monday, Cory posted a provocative question: "Wismer Not Winning Women’s Vote, Losing Third of Dems to Daugaard—Why?"

At my most cynical, the answer is people lie to themselves frequently. A sizable minority of South Dakotans who call themselves Democrats can more accurately be described as "anti-Republican." They may tell a pollster that education is one of their priorities; it may be a priority but there are 17 priorities above it.

And yet, there is a little fact that the cynic in me can't ignore That fact was driven home by a conservation I had during the weekend. An acquaintance who has recently attended a Susan Wismer event asked me my opinion. I hedged. My hedging led to the acquaintance's simple assessment: "She is . . . ahm . . underwhelming."

In South Dakota, an "underwhelming" candidate with an "R" behind the name can win local contests. An underwhelming candidate with a "D" behind the name is going to lose, badly.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Minor Musing About Protest Votes

PNR recently put up a thoughtful post about voting for a candidate as opposed to voting against a candidate. If I am reading him correctly, the following sentences express his thesis.
Regardless, when you go into the voting booth, you don't get to vote against a candidate.  You can vote against ballot initiatives, amendments, etc., but not a candidate.  You have to either vote for or abstain.
PNR is writing about the Howie/Pressler/Rounds/Wieland Senate race. In that particular race, if reliable polls continue to show Rounds at 35% or lower, he is correct. Placing a check in the oval next to Weiland's or Pressler's name may indeed be a vote for them because they have a chance to be elected.

The rest of South Dakota's statewide races, however, are not competitive. In those races, marking the oval for someone other than Daugaard, Noem, Jackley. Krebs et al. can indeed be a protest vote. I fully intend to darken the oval by Emmett Reistroffer's name for no other reason than South Dakota third parties need support. Krebs is going to win that race easily, and all votes for someone other than Krebs are protest votes of one sort or another. Nearly every South Dakotan voting for someone other than a Republican is fully cognizant of that fact.

The ovals I will darken for someone other than Daugaard or Noem are just that, a vote indicating I don't believe those people will adequately provide South Dakota the service it needs. The vast majority of South Dakotans have made it clear that an "R" next to a name is all that is necessary to earn a vote.

If one is in a purple state or a competitive district in South Dakota, dissatisfied voters need to vote for the lesser of the the two evils. If one's electoral geography ensures that the winner is determined long before election day, one can vote against the evil of two lessers without indicating and indicate only opposition not support.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Are South Dakota Republicans Like John Boehner Or Do They Have A Plan?

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John Boehner or one of his staffers send out the following inartful tweet.

In fairness to Boehner, the tweet does contain a link not just five blank lines. I have to wonder, do South Dakota Republicans, who will likely control the governor's office, increase their margin in the state house of representatives and the state senate, have any plan for jobs or anything else? Keeping wages low doesn't count really count as a plan.

Statistic Of The Day: U.S. Senate Control Will Be Determined By Less Than 4% Of U.S. Population Edition

From The Week:
34 states will have Senate elections this year, thanks to the rotating system of Senate terms,* But only about eight states have hotly contested races that will decide whether the GOP retakes the Senate: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Carolina.* Just 11 million people are likely to turn out to vote for Senate races in those states this November,* which means that roughly 3.4 percent of the total population of the United States will decide who controls the Senate in 2015.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Will South Dakota Follow Where Kansas Has Gone?

Governor Sam Brownback will sign a proclamation designating October as Zombie Preparedness Month Sept. 26 at 11 a.m. in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office in the Kansas Statehouse.
"If you’re prepared for zombies, you’re prepared for anything," is the theme of Zombie Preparedness. 
"If you’re equipped to handle the zombie apocalypse then you’re prepared for tornadoes, severe storms, fire and any other natural disaster Kansas usually faces," said Devan Tucking. "This is a fun and low-stress way to get families involved, and past turnouts have proven it to be effective."
A Zombie Apocalypse resolution should be the only resolution taken up in the upcoming session by the South Dakota Legislature, a body too fond on nonbinding measures.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Daugaard The Sophist?

This was a post I wanted to get to last week, but given Governor Daugaard will likely continue to condemn philosophy and the liberal arts, it remains timely.

Madville Times does a great job of refuting South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard's latest erroneous contention about the value of philosophy. If fact, Cory does such a great job that I would not even have bother with this post if Daugaard had not put out a weekly release with this sentence: "Everything is relative, of course."

The numbers Daugaard is referring to in the press release may need context, but they are not relative. Given Daugaard's distaste for liberal arts, one should not be surprised that the Governor is imprecise in his language use. All of us are at times, but no one in the South Dakota blogosphere has a paid staff hired to ensure usage is precise. It is more troubling that Daugaard sees nothing wrong with the phrase "everything is relative. In fact, not everything is relative.

Let's turn to philosopher Simon Blackburn.
Then, fortunately, there are countless small, unpretentious things that we know with perfect certainty.  Happiness is preferable to misery, and dignity is better than humiliation.  It is bad that people suffer, and worse if a culture turns a blind eye to their suffering.  Death is worse than life; the attempt to find a common point of view is better than manipulative contempt for it. –Simon Blackburn, Being Good, 134.
Terry Eagleton provides and even stronger statement:
All truths are established from specific viewpoints; but it does not make sense to say that there is a tiger in the bathroom from my point of view but not from yours.  You and I may contend fiercely about whether there is a tiger in the bathroom or not.  To call truth absolute here is just to say that one of us has to be wrong.

If it is true that racism is an evil, then it is not just true for those who happen to be its victims.  They are not just expressing how they feel; they are making a statement about the way things are.  ‘Racism is an evil’ is not the same kind of proposition as ‘I always find the smell of fresh newsprint blissful.’  It is more like the statement ‘There is a tiger in the bathroom.’  One could imagine someone murmuring consolingly to the victims of racism that he understands just why they feel the way that they do; that he understands just why they feel the way they do; that this feeling is of course entirely valid for them – indeed, that if he were in their shoes he would doubtless feel just the same way; but that in fact he is not in their shoes, and so does not consider the situation to racist at all.  This individual is known as a relativist.  He might conceivably be known, less politely, as a racist. – Terry Eagleton, After Theory, 106 
Off the top of my head, I can think of only two schools of philosophical thought that would accept "everything is relative" as true: the ancient sophists and their descendants, the postmodern deconstructionists. For whatever reason, Daugaard doesn't seem like one of the latter. 

Perhaps the Governor would know that if he brushed up on his philosophy instead of condemning it and trumpeting his wisdom about philosophy without understanding the subject. The latter quality does mark him as a sophist.

Just in case I didn't make it clear earlier: not everything is relative

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The First C Of Political Survival: Campaign

I have become quite fascinated with the 5 Cs of survival: cutting tool, cover, container, cordage, and combustion. The idea of 5 alliterative essentials is an excellent mnemonic device and, dare I say, a workable organizing principle.

It with that spirit in mind that I offer Democrats the first C of political survival, campaign.

Professor Jon Schaff believes "Weiland has run an almost perfect campaign," and "Rounds is in trouble." I agree with Schaff that Rounds is merely bruised not bloodied. Further, in blood red South Dakota, Weiland needs a knockout not merely a knockdown to win. Those caveats aside, Weiland still has a chance because he is running a campaign.

It is difficult to imagine every Democrat running for statewide office having the energy to do Weiland's statewide tours. In addition Rounds may have bigger flaws and have more negative baggage than most other Republicans seeking statewide office. That said, Susan Wismer's campaign has provoked skirmishes but falls far short of full scale political guerrilla warfare necessary to win. There's little evidence than any other Democrats are running for statewide office.

Campaigns matter and only one Democrat running statewide seems to be running a complete one.