Unable to muster intelligent commentary about either the Presidential debate that his nominee lost miserably last night or the South Dakota issues that should be defining our Legislative races, Pat Powers decides it’s time to blow the Sharia dog whistle for his seven or eight District 9 readers.
Powers first tries to cloak his dog-whistle bigotry in faux equanimity, saying he’s not sure why that Sioux Falls paper would make “a big deal” out of Democratic District 9 Senate candidate John Koch‘s Muslim faith. (The original version of Dana Ferguson’s article noted that both Koch and Democratic District 9 House candidate Michael Saba are Muslim; mention of Saba appears to have since been stricken from the Ferguson article.)
If Powers were sincere, I could share his annoyance at headlining a political candidate’s religion. Where and how Koch prays should not be view as any more relevant to the qualifications for political office than John F. Kennedy’s Catholicism was in 1960 or than Hillary Clinton’s womanhood should be today. Yet in the “Don’t see that every day” department, a Muslim running for office in majority-Christian South Dakota is news. Dana Ferguson notes that fact, but rather than dwelling on religious minutiae, focuses on the inclusive message of Koch’s candidacy:
“Muslims have been talked about a lot in some of the political campaigns that are going on so I think that it’s important for people to be aware of the Muslims in their own community and I think it’s important for Muslims to define ourselves within the larger community,” Koch said. “We live here and we want to have a positive impact on our state and our community” [Dana Ferguson, “Muslim Candidate Hopes to Bring New Voice to Pierre,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.09.27].
…and the policies driving Koch’s campaign:
He said he hopes to support Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s proposal to expand Medicaid in the state and oppose measure that could reduce rights of LGBT people.
“I didn’t want to see that opening go unfilled because I don’t think the Republicans in Pierre have done a good job for the people of South Dakota,” Koch said [Ferguson, 2016.09.27].
Powers faults Ferguson for not treating Sharia law as a big issue. Hmm… perhaps that’s because Sharia law is only a big issue for the bigoted Trumpist-base ragers whose fact-averse imaginations spinsters like Powers like to stoke. Koch’s own statement to Ferguson on fighting for LGBT rights makes pretty clear he’s not pushing any weird Islamic theocracy. Asking Koch about Sharia law is about as relevant and appropriate as asking Mike Rounds and Tim Kaine if they’re angling to make Pope Francis our President.
Ferguson covered what Koch is about; Powers is trying divert us from the relevant policy questions District 9 voters should ask (Gee, Senator Peters, why has your party left us out of the Medicaid expansion windfall for three years? Golly, Senator Peters, why does your party keep attacking LGBT South Dakotans?) with a dog whistle tuned to bigoted simpletons who can replace honest discussion with one religious test.
For those of you who have forgotten the Supreme Law of the Land:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States [Article VI, United States Constitution].
Koch reads the Constitution and loves it. He writes the following about the Preamble:
Does it give you goosebumps? After all these years, it is still inspiring. We can focus on different parts of it, but as a progressive, the part that resonates most strongly with me is “promote the general Welfare”. One of the fundamental reasons we are bound together in this society is to promote the general welfare. This can of course mean many things to many people. It can mean promoting universal education. It can be the basis for infrastructure funding. It can be the constitutional legitimacy for providing health care for all.
In a day and age we our health care system has advanced so far beyond the ability of individuals to pay for care, the government absolutely has a role in making sure that we all have access to care. If I am chosen to represent the people of South Dakota in Pierre, I will do my best to promote the general welfare [John Koch, “Constitutionalist,” campaign blog, 2016.09.25].
Dang—I’m grouchy that Ferguson didn’t put that in her article.