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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Better Line of the Year: Dems Need a Demagogue

Along with his continued failure to grasp simple hyperlinking, Bob Mercer has no sense of verbal artistry. In a blog post headed "Nominee for Line of the Year," Mercer deems the following mild line from Dr. Blanchard a "gem":

Yesterday South Dakota Democrats failed to win a single state wide race. The gubernatorial election was won by a Republican, which happens so often you'd think it's in the state constitution [Dr. Ken Blanchard, "The Sad State of South Dakota Democrats," South Dakota Politics, 2010.11.04].

True. Funny. But "Line of the Year"? Hardly. Blanchard's closing diagnosis is much more enlightening, compelling, and, dare I say, rhetorically artful:

There is a tragic flaw in the South Dakota Democrat. The best of that species tend to look beyond our borders for greater things. The voters frequently recognize that, and in an act of grace, set them free. Meanwhile, the party withers. This is not good for Democrats in the state, or for the state itself [Blanchard, 2010.11.04].

For even better rhetorical art, try Sam Hurst, who packs more "Lines of the Year" in one Dakota Day post than most of us bloggers manage in a year. He troubles the waters this weekend with the woulda-coulda-shoulda argument that Dr. Kevin Weiland could have beaten Kristi Noem in the Congressional race. Hurst comes to a conclusion similar to Blanchard's recommended remedy, and says it with equal if not greater punch:

Democrats do not just have an enthusiasm gap. They don't just have a finance and organizational gap. They have a charisma gap. Not a single leader in South Dakota can inspire or motivate the base. One depressed Democratic analyst told me after the election, with no small spit of sarcasm, "We need a demagogue" [Sam Hurst, "Could Dr. Kevin Weiland Have Beaten Kristi Noem?" The Dakota Day, 2010.11.05].

Demogogue, from the Greek dēmos for people, agōgos for leading. Leader of people, leader of Dems—we need someone to set Dems agog. We saw that need expressed last spring, when 3834 Weiland Wildcats sprang out of nowhere to call for a primary that the overly cautious powers that be kept from happening.

Paging Dr. Weiland, extension 2012. Dr. Weiland, 2012.


  1. Cory, Dr. Weiland will have to face Democrats angry that he chose to give John Thune a pass to make a point elsewhere.

  2. Larry, we have plenty to be angry about. We're going to have decide what's worth staying angry about, what's over and done, and what remains to do. Dr. K. gave Thune a pass; so did the rest of us.

  3. Cory: thanks for the kind words about my not so kind words. I think I beat Hurst. What South Dakota Democrats need is not a demagogue (no one needs that) another McGovern: someone with his or Daschle's talents to rebuild the party at the local level.

    I have noted previously on your sudden switch from Weiland Wildcat to Herseth Sandlin cheerleader. I don't blame you. I'd have done the same thing. It doesn't make much sense now to switch back. Weiland could not have won the nomination. He could only have damaged SHS. Stephanie didn't lose by a lot. She was the only chance Democrats had to hold that seat.

    Weiland should have run against Thune. He would have lost, but the scandal of an uncontested election would have been avoided.

  4. A strong, sober-minded leadership of any stripe would be welcome these days.

    I just got a flaming message from a parishioner, who saw my recent blog links to Dr. Blanchard's piece and Cory's on GOP Cognitive Dissonance. Her message started out "You (meaning me) people on the right..." and then inveighed about how I should stop blogging and ruining the unity of the congregation.

    She didn't even read far enough to see that I was posting Dem or at least Dem supportive stuff. I was honestly trying to say, "In the midst of GOP exuberance, let's hear other perspectives." I thought Dr. Blanchard's warnings about single-party monopoly were really good.

    Everybody is just off the handle these days. Just as parties need leaders, the culture needs some unifying leadership. It ain't coming from churches - we're as caught up in the polarization as much as anybody else. But the culture needs some leadership that provides common language for civility in the midst of disagreements and open questions.

  5. Tim, don't let anyone tell you that your blogging is responsible for ruining the unity of the congregation. Unity is ruined not by dissenting voices, but by listeners who will not tolerate dissent and flame their pastors and fellow congregants for exercising their right and duty to think and speak. Your call for leadership and civility is well placed.

    Ken: you're welcome. I won't deny the intelligence or the artfulness of an argument just because it tells me unpleasant truths. And I certainly enjoy having your and Hurst's views of that alternative reality side by side. Might not Weiland have gotten more Dems off their keesters to vote? Might a challenger like him provided Dem excitement to counteract other disadvantages?

  6. Larry: Dennis! Dennis! Dennis!


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