The Olson for South Dakota Senate campaign buys a third of a page in Friday's Madison Daily Leader. They use that third of a page quite effectively... for wrapping baloney.
I can quibble on a couple small points. The ad kicks off the familiar Olson series of testimonials with Flandreau public works superintendent Don Johnston. Nothing wrong with citing Don, although maybe a media buy in Madison would be more effective if it used a Madison resident.
The ad also features Olson saying, "Throughout this campaign, you have heard the reasons why I would like to continue serving...." Actually, if you've been reading MDL the past couple months, all you've really heard Olson say is, "Go Bulldogs!" (or Flyers, Raiders...) in his series of touching homecoming ads, as if the job of a state representative hoping to become state senator is to play cheerleader.
But that's media stuff. Let's talk policy. Says Olson [emphasis mine]:
With the rising price of gasoline, groceries and energy, South Dakotans are finding it more difficult to pay their basic cost of living expenses. Our schools, main-street businesses and industries are powered by our local electric systems and I will continue to protect the rights of local decision making, ensuring your family will continue to receive the lowest cost power available.
And says Johnston:
Russell has worked hard to protect and enhance the Public Power Systems that provide municipal electricity to the citizens of Flandreau, Colman, Madison, and Howard.
During this time of economic uncertainty, we need stable, reliable and efficient power.
As a citizen of Flandreau, I know Russell understands the importance of locally-controlled Public Power and will continue to work hard in Pierre to make sure your community continues to manage its power system without negative outside influence.
Local control, negative outside influence—that's GOP code for deregulation, or at least anti-regulation. It's another reformulation of the same old passive legislative philsophy Olson espoused when he got in the House two years ago: "I didn't seek this position to make laws. Quite honestly, I feel that we have enough laws on the books the way it is."
I guess Olson considers himself and his fellow legislators a "negative outside influence." Of course, if that negative outside influence is being aimed at your uterus, then he's all for putting state action over local control (or individual choice—see 2007's abortion ban and 2008's sonogram bill, both of which Olson voted for).
Has Olson noticed that it's not the 1980s any more? That his own Governor only cites local control when he's trying to avoid paying for something? That his own President has embraced the influence of government as the only tool left in the box to correct a free market that has derailed itself with unregulated greed and gambling?
The old ideals our GOP District 8 Senate candidate and his pal are repeating ring hollow in the face of 21st-century reality. They also belie a lack of new ideas or proven results (the other stuff that slogan was promising). What's new about promising to go to Pierre just to block legislation that might affect the product your employer sells? Where do either Olson or Johnston prove that local control—also known as legislative inaction—will help communities avoid the 23% electric rate hike the WAPA is sending us for Christmas (o.k., New Year's)?
Maybe we could translate the ad this way: "Russell hasn't done anything in Pierre. Local officials do the real work. But Russell should get credit for it." That sounds like saying you should thank all the bystanders who watch the lifeguard save a drowning man because the bystanders didn't stand in the lifeguard's way.
Note to candidates: during this time of economic certainty, we are electing lifeguards, not bystanders.
If Olson wants to be a bystander, that's fine: we can arrange that. Let Olson be a bystander for twelve months a year; vote for the other guy to actually go to Pierre and do something.