Republican blogger John Tsitrian appears to agree with me that we South Dakota Democrats should spend less time arguing about who should lead our party and more time defining our party as the defenders of economic justice:
Yes, there’s room for cultural liberalism in their message, but they have to have an overriding economic argument that makes it possible for them to put the conversation into terms like education, healthcare, infrastructure, wages, tax reform and economic growth. That’s the stuff that affects people’s day to day lives. For example, though moot now, I was very disheartened by the lack of urgency about Medicaid expansion in the message of Democrats throughout the state [John Tsitrian, “SD Democrats: ‘Now Is the Time to Re-Evaluate Your Basic Assumptions’,” The Constant Commoner, 2016.11.17].
While Rick Knobe disputes the mootness, I agree with Tsitrian that Medicaid expansion now goes in the Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda file. I’m also not sure how much more urgency Tsitrian thinks would have made the difference for Democrats in this year’s election. The South Dakota Democratic Party declared Medicaid expansion our top budget priority in 2012 and kept banging that drum through this election (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016). The last of the two whole articles that my local paper wrote about the District 3 Legislative race highlighted the difference between my opponent’s squishy resistance to Medicaid expansion and my full-throated support for the Governor’s smart, stimulatory plan.
But apparently, that message doesn’t get across, or is blown away in the wind of Republican propaganda out-defining us as out-of-touch tax-and-spend cultural elitists. In the absence of a press that cares enough to write past the horserace on a regular basis, Tsitrian advises we Democrats need to get our message across with money. Endorsing our current party leadership, Tsitrian says Tornberg and Lowe should focus on fundraising now
Again, I’ll agree with Tsitrian that among 170,000 registered Democrats, we can find a lot of useful resources. We can immediately tap the fear (why not? that’s how Trump won, right?) aroused by the prospect of the Führer in the White House. But to maximize donations, we need to offer a plan, concrete actions that we can offer as value for our donors’ dollars, like buying a bus and gas for get-out-the-vote drives on Pine Ridge and Rosebud, setting up field offices in Rapid City and Aberdeen for regional organizing, and funding a statewide economic ballot initiative drive to tap the enthusiasm voters showed for capping payday loan rates and protecting the minimum wage (like video lottery restrictions? I’m open to suggestions).
Tsitrian’s advice boils down to message and money. Add messengers who can grab the spotlight and pound that message home in every South Dakota media outlet, and we’re set, right?