Sioux Falls-area House candidates Clara Hart, J.R. LaPlante, and Michael Saba held a press conference Thursday to criticize the Legislature for its discriminatory actions and to vow to defend equal treatment for South Dakota’s growing minority populations.
“Discrimination against anyone is discrimination against all of us,” Saba said Thursday. “And if we have a Legislature that is starting to decide that we can discriminate against people that are different, whether it’s black or white or Indian or whether it’s because of their sexual orientation, that opens the door to discrimination against many other things. We can’t allow that trend to go on” [Dana Ferguson, “Dems Hope Frustration About ‘Discriminatory’ Bills Will Fuel Success,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.07.23].
I’m not sure why Dana Ferguson puts “discriminatory” in quotation marks. The 2016 Legislature’s paranoid potty bill, the fake religious freedom bill, the anti-refugee bill (sponsored by 27 Republicans, including incumbents that Hart, LaPlante, and I intend to replace)—all explicitly, objectively discriminatory.
Ferguson gets quotes from SDGOP chair Ryan Budmayr and Hart rival Rep. Herman Otten (Hart’s other Republican opponent, Isaac Latterell, got his fill of publicity for the week with his now famous Trump-not-mean-enough facepalm at the GOP convention and did not answer Ferguson’s call). Budmayr trivializes discriminationas a political distraction:
The South Dakota Republican Party is a big tent…. The Democrats are going to stay away from issues that have made South Dakota successful—low taxes, one of the best business business climates and limited government [Ryan Budmayr, in Ferguson, 2016.07.23].
Translation: Discrimination is no big deal, as long as the rich can get richer.
Rep. Otten goes off on a complete tangent:
We need to deal with illegal aliens that come into the country and it has nothing to do with discrimination…. It doesn’t matter what country they come from if they come here illegally [Rep. Herman Otten, in Ferguson, 2016.07.23].
Translation: I didn’t pay attention to the question or the bills being discussed, so I’m going to talk about an issue that wasn’t addressed by any of the discriminatory bills discussed by Hart, LaPlante, and Saba. I’m just going to rail against immigrants in general, because it’s not discrimination if we fear all immigrants.
Democrats offer intelligent discourse; Republicans offer fearful distraction.