Information, observations, and analysis from the James River valley on the Northern Plains-----
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Ron Volesky's withdrawal from the governor race induced reactions that show the qualities that dominate the state.
The people of South Dakota put their resentful small mindedness and stolid stupidity out there for all to see. From the Democrats came an accusation that moving the state headquarters to Pierre was the root of the flagging interest in the Democratic Party. Other howls of resentment and petulance chimed in like coyotes baying at the moon. Some advised that the party needs a complete makeover, but without any hint as to how that can be accomplished and who a made-over party would serve. From the Republicans came howls of glee. One blog published a reader's little essay on what the Republican Party means to her. It is an exercise in total bigotry and schizophrenic malevolence, but it probably is an accurate reflection of the mindset that dominates South Dakota.
Many blog commentators think that political success is a matter of conditioning the electorate into making responses programmed into it. One does not win elections on issues, in their thinking; it wins on the basis of who does the best job of brainwashing and operant conditioning. The people, in their Orwellian vision of the world, are not independent creatures who can think for themselves. And so the losses by the Democratic Party are matters of failing in the role of Big Brother. The people have little to do with it. Blog comments reinforce that view.
Whether campaigning is a matter of mind control or effective rhetoric, Ron Volesky faced a problem. Gov. Rounds has $1.4 in his campaign chest. Ron, after four months of campaigning, had $3,000. That is significant, and it provides much basis for those ne'er-do-wells who sit around coffee shops generating malicious speculations about the character and personhood of other people.
But what that level of support reflected in the disparity between $3,000 and $1.4 million means is that people are voting with their money.
Fundraising is never an easy business, but of late some complicated difficulties have become apparent. Raising money brings one into the realities of what people are thinking and what motivates them. In the local political arena, I hear people questioning whether their investments of time and money into the state are wise and good, or if their money and efforts will go to programs of which they disapprove. They clearly are indicating that their attachments to South Dakota are not so strong that they will not build their lives around other localities that have a more compatible set of values.
A person who does telephone solicitations for the NSU Foundation scholarship fund told me yesterday of some responses encountered of late.
NSU has become identified with the Republican Party, and two people responded to this person by saying that if they were to pledge money, they would prefer it to go to a nonpartisan cause. They made clear to the solicitor that their support of higher education would go to private, not state, institutions. And they made it clear that they resented that their tax money was going to support a political agenda with which a university has allied itself.
They make clear that their last best hope is on the national level. They have, in effect, indicated that they will invest in those organizations that represent their interests.
That brings up another conversation at a meeting recently. A person who travels regularly in North Dakota commented that his family does its major food shopping there because there is no sales tax on food. He said he does not mind paying a tax, but he does mind if it supports government of the kind that operates in South Dakota. Another person commented that her family does nearly all its shopping in other states, with trips to the Twin Cities considered a necessity. Other people chimed in about how our January ice storm crimped their post-holiday shopping trips to the Twin Cities. Buying out-of-state to them serves two purposes: they do not support businesses who work against them politically, and they do not contribute tax money to a government that operates in secret and oppresses them.
In a state that is virtually ruled by one party, progressives have largely given up on the idea that they have any real voice in state government. So, they are finding ways to vote with their money. Simply, spend it out-of-state. That way one can at least feel that one is not supporting one's oppressors.
The political chatter incited by Ron Volesky's abandonment of the race for governor is full of advice and observations from people who think they know all the tactics and secrets of successful campaigning. The chatter is filled with accusations about the ineptitudes and idiocies of other people, about how political identities are significations of defects of mind, character, and human worth. Politics has devolved into the nasty struggles for dominance and abusings of other people usually found in elementary school playgrounds when the monitors aren't watching.Nowhere in the discussion is the electorate given credit or responsibility for the kind of government it votes into control. No one is making the point that the vote is not controlled by the machinations of political campaigners, but by what the people want.
The abortion ban passed in the South Dakota Senate yesterday is a case in point. No one who deals with the political realities of South Dakota believes that the proponents of this legislation give a rusty dog turd about the right to life of unborn fetuses. If they cared about rights to life, they would concern themselves with the squalid, desperate, and degraded lives already born and living under the oppression of poverty and hopelessness. The obscenity of the abortion ban is that its ultimate result would be to add to the horde of people living in squalor and desperation. To some, their only sense of successful lives and satisfaction is provided by an underclass whom they can control, humiliate, and degrade.
Most people who identify with the Democratic Party do not approve of abortions. Neither do they approve of unwanted pregnancies brought to full term to live in humiliation and degradation. And they do not approve of intrusions by a horde of malevolent busy-bodies whose only happiness is controlling and dictating the terms of life to other people. Moralize none of this obscene right-to-life morality to us, please. They have shown us their true natures in the way they forced the abortion ban on the state.
Ultimately, the people of South Dakota got what they voted for. But this is not what almost-half of the people want.
South Dakota may have its abortion ban, but we still have the freedom and the means to withhold the incomes we earn from the businesses who support the oppressors, and we have the means to divert our tax dollars to other places with other values. We can donate to the campaigns of leaders in other states who will represent our interests on the federal level. They will not turn down your money. That trend has already started. People question whether supporting the Democratic Party in South Dakota will provide a forum for their voices. Ron Volesky has felt the results of that doubt.
To many people, the state legislature has signaled that it is quite willing to ignore and deny the real problems in this state in favor of forcing their will on young women with unwanted pregnancies. To the right-to-life crowd, this is a time of victory. To the rest of us, it is time to recognize that the ballot box in South Dakota is a sham. Elections in Palestine, South American, and Iraq have shown that elections do not reconcile people of differing values.
For progressives, it may be time to abandon South Dakota to the oppressors and cast our votes in ways that count. May the victors enjoy what they end up with.