Tuesday, March 12, 2019

One Question For The South Dakota Democratic Party Chair Candidates

At Dakota Free Press, Cory has a couple of posts up about the candidates for South Dakota Democratic Party Chairperson. One updates the lunchroom saga. The other presents candidate Cunningham's plan for the Democratic Party. (If I may be permitted a moment of snark, Cunningham was running for the position in early January; the plan is not so deep and detailed that it could not have been ready for the Yankton forum on March 2.)

I don't have a vote or a favorite candidate, but I always have questions. In this case, however, I'll ask only one.

Your friends and neighbors may like you, but when they hear the word Democrat, they don't see you; they see Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC). Even though she's a rookie congresswoman, they immediately start worrying that someone is going to take their guns and their cars. Some who listen to too much Limbaugh, Hannity, Ingraham, Hewitt along with the crazier folk on talk radio or YouTube likely worry they'll be forced to eat jicama gruel through a metal straw at least four days a week. What can you do to change that perception? (In fairness, some of you mentioned this problem in Yankton, but no one really discussed how to deal with it.)


larry kurtz said...

The trip to Yankton for the 2014 South Dakota Democratic Party State Convention to take photos for Northern Plains News was a personal opportunity to learn directly from the delegates, legislators and candidates while lobbying them about what this blogger still believes is the future of the party.

It was gratifying to be received as a credible voice at an event were everybody knew a blogger living in Santa Fe who cared enough about his home state to drive a couple thousand miles and shoot a few pictures. Jeff Barth and the Minnehaha County people took a straggler into their ranks and pressed the caucus on strict adherence to the rules with vigorous confidence.

There were some disappointments like no representation from Lawrence County and a watered-down therapeutic cannabis plank, for instance; but, the experience of knowing these people are dedicated Democrats who are sick and tired of being bullied by the state's dominant party while tirelessly fighting for a land they love was worth every driven mile.

But, the 2018 convention platform and resolutions don't even mention cannabis embracing Roundup-ready hemp instead!

Democrats lost in South Dakota because the party abandoned legal cannabis as a campaign strategy and nominated an anti-reproductive rights candidate for governor failing to attract American Indian and younger voters.

The only reason Billie Sutton got any SDGOP crossover votes whatsoever is because Kristi Noem is hated by almost half her caucus. Vote margins in the other statewide races proved that. Stephanie Sandlin or Bernie Hunhoff would have done at least as well. After bombarding the Facebook pages of every single South Dakota media outlet that has one, blocking over 1000 bots and helping to draw out some 91,000 new Democratic voters in my home state I have unfollowed all media outlets in South Dakota on FB and Twitter.

Democrats in blue states already understand the added value of talking legal cannabis during their campaigns and some red state Democrats get it, too; but during the 2018 election cycle the US House candidate believed the state party is just too fragile for cannabis rights.

Yes, North Dakota just defeated a flawed and poorly-written constitutional amendment legalizing cannabis for all adults. Black market cannabis not tested or subject to regulation makes America and South Dakota less safe. Legalizing and regulating a product that so many people enjoy is reasonable public policy aligned with life safety concerns.

No South Dakota Democrat will get a dime from me until the county chairs are filled and unless Democrats weave cannabis into their platform at their state convention and arch-conservatives run for offices outside the Greedy Old Party it's curtains for SDDP in 2020, too.

The South Dakota Democratic Party should advocate for paying the tribes and settling the Black Hills Claim, dissolving the Black Hills National Forest, moving management of the land from the US Department of Agriculture into the Department of Interior in cooperation with Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Forestry and Wildfire Management. Mato Paha (Bear Butte), the associated national grasslands and the Sioux Ranger District of the Custer/Gallatin National Forest should be included in the move.

Rewild it and rename it Okawita Paha National Monument eventually becoming part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge connecting the CM Russell Wildlife Refuge in Montana along the Missouri River to Oacoma, South Dakota combined with corridors from Yellowstone National Park to the Yukon in the north and south to the Canadian River through Nebraska, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.

Hey, South Dakota Democrats: run on passing a corporate income tax, reducing the number of SD counties to 25, turning Dakota State or Northern State University into community colleges, ending video lootery and adopting my cannabis template.

Anonymous said...

Might have to make a drive to hear the sales pitches of these SDDP Chair candidates. I will buy my own lunch and enjoy a medium rare juicy hamburger despite AOC wanting to take it away. I tend to gravitate towards old school sensible Dems and shy away from free radicals which are bad for my health.

Kal Lis said...


Enjoy the trip. I think Al's has chislic as well.


The legislative program that your last two comments have outlined is pretty ambitious. It would shake things up a lot. I don't know if the current electorate will vote on anything other than fear of losing a way of life that exists only in Terry Redlin paintings

Anonymous said...

Thought you might be interested in Drinking Liberally-Sioux Falls and its posting today:

In Politics: Nationally, common sense prevailed briefly in the US Senate as it voted 59 to 41 to disapprove of Trump's Southern Border emergency declaration. Unfortunately, South Dakota's two Senators, John Thune and Mike Rounds, supported their "dear leader" and his attempt to further undermine the checks and balances of our Constitution. They were last seen crawling backward on their bellies as they KowTowed to Trump in absolute supplication, all the while repeating the refrain, "You are great. You are Grand. Your wall may be stupid, a big waste of money, but we stand with you and the rest of your clan, for Roses are Red, Violets are blue, and, hell, we'll admit it, we're corrupt just like you."

In South Dakota, the South Dakota Democratic Party (SDDP) will choose its Chairman for the next four years next week in Oacoma. There are five Democratic Candidates and one candidate who claims to be a Democrat when it is convenient for her. (Paula Hawks).

Despite a lot of good intentions and whatever the results, the SDDP will probably remain what it is today, a Top Down organization whose leaders will continue to wonder why its members don't participate and do their bidding. Rather than live up to its name and reform itself and become a truly (small "d") democratic organization, the SDDP will most likely remain a rural dominated Party in which "one county" rather than "one person" equals one vote and in which a Harding County with its 173 Democratic voters will have as much say in Party affairs as a Minnehaha, Pennington, Beadle or a Brown County with their tens of thousands of Democratic voters.

It was pointed out the other day that South Dakota has more cows per capita than any other state in the Nation. As long as the SDDP is governed on the basis of "one cow equals one vote" it and its candidates will never be able to form a message that resonates with a majority of both urban and rural voters. Instead it will lie moribund on the table as it does now, only partially organized and available to any cohesive interest group to use as a platform for its agenda, no matter how popular or unpopular that interest groups ideas may be to the general public.

It is a sad state of affairs because the Democratic Party affords ordinary people one of the few structures where they can regularly express their political preferences and attempt to influence the public discussion. Alternatively, people can either accept their powerlessness or choose to form and fund an independent organization of their own, an alternative, which for practical purposes, is available only to the wealthy, the well connected or those with a lot of extra time on their hands.

Despite my skepticism, I wish the SDDP well for they are the only alternative in town to the Republican Party, the Party of Trump, an alternative totally unacceptable to me for many reasons but also because, unlike our Senators, I don't feel like Kowtowing anytime soon.

I need a Drink

John Kennedy Claussen, Sr., said...

You are talking about a national image, which no state chair can successfully fix on their own with a countering message or branding. That is why I am so critical of my opponents in this race and their obsession with branding and messaging as some kind of panacea answer.

Now, I do believe as a political party we can do a better job of promoting our economic agenda and our accomplishments, or preventions, in Pierre to increase our voting base. But with that said, this national image is why I am emphasizing voter registration, the targeting of races, and a more effective canvassing/GOTV program. Because as a political party, the SDDP needs to get into the business of finding their votes rather than trying to entice more conservative voters and moving the party to the right, and away from what it means to be a Democrat. Only when we are true to ourselves can we begin to live in the real world, take inventory of our capabilities, and then seize opportunities with our new found capabilities from the strategy, or priorities, that I have mentioned.

Kal Lis said...

Mr. Claussen,

Thanks for stopping by this little spot on the interwebs.

I don't disagree with you that organizing and GOTV should be a priority. Targeting races also makes sense to me.

Finally, I agree that the idea that younger voters will vote for Democrats merely because South Dakota Democrats have a strong social media presence is misguided.

I am going to stand by the premise of the question. First, Governor Noem invokes George Soros as a bogeyman to get her pipeline bill passed. She is using a national image to sway legislators and voters. The legislature also wasted time on resolutions about the wall. The national and the local seem to be merging.

Perhaps, I should have phrased the question something like "What can be done to help South Dakota voters focus on main street issues?" and "How will you do it as chairperson?"

I may be totally wrong, but after the legislative session ends, South Dakota Republicans through Governor Noem will have a bullhorn to dominate the political conversation in South Dakota. She seems much more likely that her predecessor to throw out red meat to keep Republicans energized. That red meat will often include references to national figures and issues.

Given the dearth of elected Democrats, the Democratic Party chairperson seems the most likely person to respond, so I phrased the question with reference to the person whom the media focus on.

John Kennedy Claussen, Sr., said...


I believe it is important for the State Chair - in coordination with Democratic legislative leaders - to creat a shadow government to not only respond to Republican branding of issues, but to be anticipative and preemptive in our responses.

I know for a fact right now, as I write, that there are Democratic legislative leaders who are upset that the state party released a press release recently about a straw poll concerning presidential candidates, which be held at the McGovern Day dinner, when the state party should be doing press releases, instead, on what the Democrats did in Pierre and what the Republicans did not do or did do, that is detrimental to South Dakota.

If you check the SDDP website, the "Party Leaders" listed are the staff, but the staff are the staff. It is the Chair, viceCh, and etc., that are the party leaders, and when such leaders are willing to finally take the mantle, then maybe people will begin to take notice of the SDDP and what we are doing and trying to do.

If you look at my fifteen point plan of action. You will notice that I call for a greater messaging or our accomplishments in Pierre as well as our successful preventative actions. Plus, I call for a temporary SDDP office to be placed in Pierre during session. I feel these two ideas will do much to voice a stronger Democratic message here in South Dakota.

Now, with that said, I am the self-professed "math candidate" with message taking a backseat in my overall strategy, but that doesn't mean I don't want any message. The message, or messages, I want will be used to complement the "math" strategy with my plan.