Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Political and The Personal

Over at Badlands Blue, Travis discusses a meeting he took with Pat Powers and concludes "while it is easy to get nasty on-line and make comments about people, when we meet them face to face, its usually easy to find some common ground."  It's good to be reminded of civility.

This morning, however, I am in a decidedly uncivil mood.  The Yankton Press and Dakotan details the local carnage caused by the draconian Daugaard budget.  Daugaard sold himself as a civil and an amiable person; I sure that a little web surfing will find a trite cliche that he has uttered about how difficult these decisions have been for him and how he wishes no one ill.  In short, he would assert we all must believe these decisions are not personal and that he shares the pain.  After all, a civil and amiable person would not unnecessarily cause harm.

If that's the case, these decisions are political.  It's all about the ideas.  If I may be permitted the cliche, ideas have consequences, and political ideas are more consequential then others.  That's because turning political ideas into a political reality requires forays into the personal. Politics requires garnering support and getting support requires compromise.  Political compromise often becomes a zero sum game; those whom the winners agree with get funds to provide their programs or exemptions from paying taxes that others have to pay.  Because political resources are finite, rewarding friends frequently necessitates punishing political enemies. Hence, the campaigns and the pleas for votes and the coalitions are personal as well and political.

During this past legislative session, Republicans dominated the legislature.  Many of those legislators view teachers as a Democratic monolith. Had Daugaard and his Republican legislature believed that teachers voted Republican, the budget would have been constructed differently. A different budget would mean that twenty-two people who got caught in the crosshairs of the political and the personal would still have jobs. For them, the political is inseparable from the personal.

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