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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Primary, Anyone?

The Internet is alive with Dem buzz about Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin's vote against health care reform yesterday. My inbox has a flood of communications from just one e-mail list, with folks weighing in passionately for and against SHS's embrace of the conservative agenda. Here is my open letter to all South Dakota Democrats... and independents (Republican neighbors, you're welcome to read and chuckle as well):

A Democrat defending SHS's vote said, "Let's not forget our primary purpose."

Did somebody say primary?

A fallacy in the reasoning of SHS's apologists is that we can't vote for a Republican just because we don't like SHS's vote on 1 out of a 100 issues.

1. It's not health care alone that has me looking for other options. Credit card reform, student loan reform, climate change/ACESA, now health care reform... I thought the point of compromise was to save up political capital so you could fight hard for the big issues. Instead, SHS seems to go conservative on the big bills that matter.

2. The Republicans are not our only option. We do have a primary... potentially a very interesting primary, now that we've opened the door to independents. Perhaps now is the perfect time to have a referendum on this issue. Let's have a public conversation on what the South Dakota Democratic Party is about. Are we simply the permanent loyal opposition, comic relief in a state where the only Dems who survive in office are those who play to a center-right that we tell ourselves will never change? Or are we a party of leaders who acknowledge and understand our state's conservative history but refuse to be bound by it? Do we continue to compromise and apologize for being Democrats, or do we run a candidate who represents "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party"?

Let's put that question to our primary voters. Let's find a Paul Wellstone, a George McGovern (or an Al Franken?). Let's have a primary. Let's ask ourselves, our fellow Dems, and any and all fellow South Dakotans who care to register Independent what they think. We can all muster the maturity and good sense to have a very public and very vigorous conversation about these questions:
  1. Can we make the case that Democratic Party priorities really are better for South Dakota than what the other guys are selling?
  2. Can we run and win as Democrats?
SHS's answer to that question, on several big issues, appears to be no. Some of us in this conversation apparently feel otherwise. Let's field a candidate, have a healthy public debate, and let the voters decide.

And when the primary is over, we will unite behind the candidate with the mandate of our primary voters and keep our House seat Blue (or Blue Dog).

What say you, friends? Any takers?


  1. At least she didn't vote for the horrible Stupak amendment.

  2. Ah Cori, I've told you before too search for the truth, maybe you are starting to see it. Think back to when you were a rabid Republican and follow the track you took in becoming a rabid Democrat. The truth lies somewhere on that track and until you find it................

    Joseph G Thompson

  3. I've read that Matt McGovern (George's grandson) is contemplating a run against Thune. Perhaps instead a better idea would be the primary against H-S? (We still need someone strong to run against Thune in upcoming Senate race.)

    I've contemplated registering I, but perhaps it's just time to weed out the D's (in disappointments) instead.

  4. Jackie, stay and fight. I could be wrong, but I think you can do more good as a Dem voice speaking for Dem ideals. And McG vs. SHS: an interesting match-up, given McG's dedication to climate change legislation.

    And Joseph, do note that, on this issue, I'm still following the same track, away from rabid GOP baloney, away from SHS's facilitation of such baloney, and toward the Franken-Weiner-Kucinich-Wellstone wing of the party. Is that the direction you had in mind?


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