Thursday, August 14, 2014

What I Saw At The Democratic And Libertarian Conventions, A Final Musing

I believe I'm the only person in South Dakota who attended both the state Democratic and state Libertarian conventions. I got to write a blog post or two about each, I met some people who really care about South Dakota.  Before anyone asks, I had to be out of state while the Republicans were holding their convention. Had I been able to attend, I would have inquired about attending that convention. Had they allowed me to attend, I expect I would have met a some Republicans who also have South Dakota's best interests at heart.

 In some ways, the conventions proceeded as a political observer would expect. The Libertarians were a little more free wheeling when it came to credentials. If one showed up and didn't threaten someone else, all was expected to go well. The Democrats had a formula and proportional voting based on that formula. It seemed convoluted enough that I didn't bother asking about the details.

As I said in the posts following each convention, I saw little anger. The Democrats showed a quiet determination while the  Libertarians seemed genuinely happy to find a candidate for each position.

I expected to see more politicians of the unctuously slick variety. Their numbers were, thankfully, very low at both events. On the matter of style, the Libertarians had more suits or sports jackets and ties per capita than the Democrats during the floor debate, an unexpected occurrence.

Moving beyond style, both conventions had fewer conventioneers than I expected. Democrats have around 175,000 members, so 107 credentialed delegates seems to be a pretty low number. The Libertarians have around 1300 members so 35 delegates might be about right, but it was an open convention and Bosworth and Haber seem to provoke a strong emotional response.

Because both have trouble recruiting candidates, each one is throwing some promising young people to the wolves. For example, Angelia Schultz and Emmet Reistroffer have the skills that should give them a bright future. Both, however, seem too young and inexperienced to be running a statewide race.

I may have mentioned this in another post, but neither party seems ready to articulate what constitutes a win in the current political environment whereas Republicans just expect to win. For example, Republicans certainly expect to win all statewide races. Even if they lose the United States Senate race, they can claim they had a winning election cycle. The Democrats will undoubtedly be happy Weiland won, but the night won't feel like a win. Given that it's extremely unlikely the Democrats are going to win a majority of the statewide races or dramatically increase their numbers in the state legislature, they need being thinking about what constitutes a moral victory. Libertarians also should be thinking about framing the situation that constitutes a win. Is it all candidates in double figures? One can't build a party going 0-6 or 1-8 in statewide races unless party leaders find a way to frame the situation in a positive light.

Finally, attendees at both conventions both claimed the Republicans had not come up with a new idea in decades. At each convention, it seemed party regulars wanted to paraphrase Shakespeare: Upon what meat doth these our Republicans eat/ That they are grown so great? No one at either convention seemed to have an answer.


P&R said...

One of the things I frequently see in churches, especially when they split, is one church continues to have a sense of identity and vision for itself, but the other focuses on being the "not-the-first-church" church.

Nationally, the GOP too often is the party of the "not-the-Democrats". That is insufficient.

In SD, it seems both Democrats and Libertarians are too focused on being the "not-the-Republican" parties. That won't work for them, either.

caheidelberger said...

Agreed, P&R. Defining ourselves in terms of the other party lets the other party control the narrative.

Kal Lis said...

Won't dispute point that "we're not the other guys" rarely works,and as a practical matter, South Dakota Republicans redistricted themselves into a solid majority.

I also wonder if bigger trends are making parties less important in general and struggling parties are feeling the effects before those on more sound footing.

I also wonder if both, but the Dems in particular, are waiting for scandal. That's not a great campaign strategy either.

I'm just guessing. If I had any answers, I'd go on a diet, get a haircut, and run for something.