Who would call an opportunity to practice democracy and hold a meaningful Presidential primary in South Dakota an unwelcome mess? Why, only that Sioux Falls paper’s star political reporter:
It’s like a burning garbage truck careening toward South Dakota. More and more, it looks like there’s no way to avoid a collision.
…A lot can happen in two months, but it appears this mess of an election has South Dakota in its sights. And if it does indeed reach us, with its flawed candidates and disappointing level of social discourse, it will no doubt leave many South Dakotans hoping that their state reverts back to an overlooked backwater come 2020 [Jonathan Ellis, “South Dakota Might Not Avoid Election Mess,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.04.02].
For one of South Dakota Public Radio’s esteemed “Political Junkies,” this disdain for democracy is incomprehensible. If I were making a living writing about South Dakota politics (oh, wait—what’s that ringing I hear? Is it the Blog Tip Jar? :-) ), I’d be thrilled at the prospect of candidates and surrogates and volunteers barnstorming through our state. Remember Hillary at the Second Street Diner? Bill at the library? Barack at the Corn Palace? Having the chance to grab a photo and land an interview with the next President of the United States should have every South Dakota reporter goose-pimpling at the prospect of a Presidential primary running hard through June. There’s far more chance that our delegates could be king- or queen-makers than that our three electoral votes will attract repeated press-worthy visits from our Presidential candidates or even be up for grabs (at least not until we Democrats change the statewide narrative and win the Governor’s seat in 2018).
Ellis mingles disdain for the process with disdain for the candidates. Here he exhibits his employer’s ongoing post-Daschle stress disorder: to avoid any semblance of partisanship, he draws a false equivalence between the hairball candidates coughed up by the Republican Party and the reasonable policymakers contending on the Democratic side:
If it’s hash on the Republican side, it’s not nearly as tidy as many Democrats had hoped it would be by now on their side. Front-runner Hillary Clinton has been unable to put away Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The Freebie Express keeps rolling onward, and there is a chance that Sanders will remain competitive going into the June 7 primary in South Dakota [Ellis, 2016.04.02].
(A) I like hash.
(B) Tidiness is for autocracies, not democracies.
(C) Freebies?! Try cheap shot from a columnist more interested in preventing Republican subscribers from branding his paper partisan again than in offering a sober analysis of the fact that Sanders and his supporters are really talking about working together as a national community to pay our way for things we need instead of letting the rich and powerful escape their obligations. Bernie Sanders is leading a far more intelligent conversation about public policy—and Hillary Clinton is offering far more intelligent responses and counterproposals—than anything we’re hearing belched and bleated by the Republican frontrunners.
But chained down by his paper’s once-bitten-forever-shy paralysis, Ellis has to pretend that somehow the GOP’s celebrity billionaire turned fascist and his annoying Dominionist rookie Senator alternative are no worse flaming garbage than a former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State talking real policy with a veteran Senator whose audacity lies not in xenophobia and thuggery but in honest calls for the democratic socialism that already underpins our greatest American institutions.
Lori Walsh, take Jonathan Ellis’s stripes. A real Political Junkie would not groan at the prospect of a heated Presidential primary in South Dakota. An honest Political Junkie would not cower behind any false equivalency between the unseemly GOP candidates and the serious, experienced public servants offered by the Democrats.