Tuesday, May 7, 2013

South Dakota Politics And The Art Of The Possible

Simple things amuse me. For example, many believe folks on the conservative side of the political spectrum enjoy hating. Enter Bob Ellis, a South Dakota tea party bloviator of the first order, who saw fit to sprint to his concordance and post over 30 Bible verses containing the word hate. One could end the post there and let the unintentional  irony soak in, but where's the fun in that?

In later comments, Ellis proclaims himself a "pleasant and positive" person. He also implies he is like God and that his antagonists  in the comment section of a political blog worship Satan:
I only hate evil, lying, deception and the like. You should too, just like God does. You can pray to your Father of Lies all you like, but my prayers will be that the Living God will cause the scales to fall off your eyes so you can repent and get right. Then you can love the things he loves and hate the things He hates.
Bob posts Proverbs 6:16 but he left off the accompanying list. In the situation at hand, the New International Version's translation of verse seems wryly ironic
16.There are six things the Lord hates,seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.[emphasis mine]
On the other side of the political spectrum, as far as the east is from the Ellis's west,  Anna M. Madsen compares a political party choosing a candidate to ordering a meal from a menu. Like Ellis Madsen veers dangerously close to self-parody. If tea party folk are too closely equated with hate, progressives are seen as being snooty and out of touch with meat and potato voters. Madsen, predictably, orders the political version of the "Vegetarian Delight" and proclaims there are dishes progressives "don't eat."

Madsen's prose is far superior to Ellis's, and she supports her arguments with far more concrete detail than Ellis does, but both seem to be looking for impossible political purity. Bismarck's phrase may have become a cliche, but it remains true: politics is the art of the possible.

It's certainly imprudent for South Dakota to veer further to right. It may also be impossible for South Dakota Republicans to become more conservative with becoming pharisaical, akin to the money changers in the temple. Given South Dakota's political landscape, it's impossible for a true progressive in the mold of Lafollette, FDR, or George McGovern to win a statewide race. In 2010, Herseth, a Blue Dog Democrat, was defeated, in part, because Republicans successfully painted her as a liberal. To continue Madsen's metaphor, South Dakotans will not vote for someone who doesn't eat a few bacon cheeseburgers.

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