Saturday, May 7, 2011

Some Musings About Vanishing Rural Species

Newsweek does a personality profile of Montana Democratic Senator John Tester.  Reading the piece, one discovers that "Tester uses the word “cool” as often as a tween," and the reporter "lost count of all the loogies he hocked."  Tester is apparently a bit too honest for his own good; "[m]ost senators have an earthy side, but they tend to tone it down when a reporter is in the room. Tester turns it up."

The article discusses how Tester's votes on logging, debit card fees, and wolf hunting have affected his relationship with national Democratic constituencies and the funding they frequently provide.  During that discussion, the article arrives at the following observation:
And so the question that will define the next 18 months, for Tester and his party, is not only whether there’s room in rural America for Democrats; it’s whether there’s room in the Democratic Party for rural Americans.
The article concludes,
In other states, other rural Democrats are facing the same challenge as Tester, or will be soon: a new, wired landscape that lets them draw support from every corner of the country but holds them to a one-size-fits-all standard of urban liberalism in return. It’s Tip O’Neill’s famous axiom in reverse: now all politics is national.
South Dakota politics seems to be an a leading indicator of this trend. The state also shows the results of the dearth of rural Democrats.

The South Dakota legislature has 80 Republicans in the House and Senate with only 24 Democrats and 1 independent.  One could argue that the legislative chambers produces more echoes than substantive legislation during the past session.

Does anyone seriously believe that Kristi Noem has a better intellect, vaster policy knowledge, or a better work ethic than Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin? The only qualification that seemed to matter to South Dakota voters was the R behind Noem's name when it appeared on the ballot.

South Dakota's Republican Party continue to move to the right; the national party does as well.  Ezra Klein illustrates that many of Obama's policies used to be moderate Republican policies.  Yet mainstream Republicans now argue that these policies will now kill old people, turn the youth into socialistic Nazi Muslims who bow down to atheistic idols, and will create a United States that is a de facto a Canadian gulag ruled by Somali overlords with Chinese accents.  Maybe it's Chinese overlords with Somali accents.  I get those facts mixed up sometimes.

I'm sure both parties have bean counters who will be able to figure out how to win presidential elections or hold the House of Representatives or the United States Senate if rural Democrats vanish from the political landscape.  What they don't have is the crystal ball that will tell them what happens inside the states that are dominated by one party, especially if one has a better chance of having a confirmed Sasquatch sighting than one does of seeing a  confirmed moderate within the Republican party's ranks.

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