Tsitrian: Democrats Need Clear Economic Message and Money to Make It Stick

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 (201320142015, 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?

32 Responses to Tsitrian: Democrats Need Clear Economic Message and Money to Make It Stick

  1. mike from iowa


    How much clearer can a message be?

  2. I thought Bernie Sanders message was pretty clear. Unfortunately, Democrats rejected it. Although, if they were smart, they would pick it back up and run with it.

  3. During the primary election, we here on DFP argued about the lack of funding from Bernie Sanders for the down tickets. Turns out he did do that. Clinton had a lot more money but that does not seem to show up in the coffers of the Democratic Party here to help fund candidates. How much was doled out by Clinton and national dems to the state, who knows? Show me the money!

    Trump has said that he will not prosecute Clinton for whatever the hell they thought she had done, so there is that. As she is now free from litigation, she should free up campaign donations that were clearly designed to go to her and to the down tickets as promised. Each state should get those monies to help finance the party for the upcoming elections and also to get the message out about matters like jobs and Medicaid Expansion. Curious that dollar amount has not been presented to the 170,000 dems of this state, why?

  4. John T.’s populist remarks will probably be ignored here in South Dakota Democratic circles as being to complicated. Myself, I would vote for John T in a New York minute as the leader and thinker he is. The guy is a businessman that understands the economics of the workers. If you do not know the target audience, what right do you have to make the assumption you are working in their best interests? Here is how Democrats continue to miss the mark https://hbr.org/2016/11/what-so-many-people-dont-get-about-the-u-s-working-class

  5. John Tsitrian

    Thanks, Cory, for putting this up. I wish SDDP could find a way to get an office in Rapid City. Retail politics demand retail exposure. Appreciate the kind remarks Jerry. I’m basically blue collar by birth and upbringing–my dad was a union guy in a union state. Not sure about running for office, but haven’t closed the door on the possibility.

  6. Porter Lansing

    Great article, Jerry. It correctly notes that Trump knows what white working class males (income around $65,000) want. They want the kind of jobs their dad’s had. Stable, respectable with retirement security. The article also notes that Trump is a bold faced liar and can no way produce these jobs for white working class males.
    *I may note the only jobs left in the world like that are in Europe and they only exist because of socialism, not in America where the rich are far too greedy to allow their workers to prosper.

  7. As of October 28, 2016, here is what has been reported by Fortune on the campaign war chest of Clinton “Democrats had $153 million in the bank as of last week, compared to $68 million for Republicans.” How much was sent to South Dakota? As Clinton will not be charged, how about sending a 100 million of that to states like South Dakota for the future? A half million would go a long way here to get the message of jobs to the people. Good honest jobs that have a future would be the message and why there needs to be a complete change in direction of state government to achieve those goals. Dump the dynasty.

  8. mike from iowa


    HRC wasn’t very generous with states Dem parties. In fact she was bigly selfish. And was still the best candidate for the job. Drumpf hit the ground shilling his business and financial interests and broke his promise to divest hisself of conflicts. He now sez people knew he had these conflicts and voted for him anyway. I knew he had conflicts, I knew he would not divest hisself. I knew he is a pathological liar and a far larger crook than HRC ever dreamed of being.

  9. Roger Cornelius

    Until now I haven’t commented about the fumbles Democrats made during the national or state elections. In fact my first comment about what the SDDP needs to do was made on their listening schedule on another post.

    Republicans (I capitalize Republican for the first time to show my respect for Mr. Tristan) hang onto their two issues of abortion and the 2nd Amendment to win elections. Stace Nelson is a perfect example of how to get elected in South Dakota by touting those two issues and disregarding everything else as irrelevant.

    Can South Dakota Democrats find two issues to forever hang their hats on that will attract voters from republicans and Independents? South Dakota Democrats present too many issues to the public, we need to pare that list down to issues that relate to all South Dakota voters.
    But the biggest question is, what do Democrats do to fix stupid or can we do anything at all?
    That is a tough question as the South Dakota republican dominated legislature is preparing its agenda to fight several of the ballot issues plus some old issues, the potty bill and DiSantos’ gunslinger bill, that we the voters passed.
    The legislature will work to undo the will of the people and their constituents will give their tacit approval.

  10. Roger, I agree. However, if Democrats would grab the biggest issue, jobs, and make it their own – really show how they can lead our state and the people of SD to a rejuvenated middle class and lasting prosperity, I still think that issue gets shoved aside by the pro-life voters that perpetuate GOP majority in SD. Guns might be of lesser importance than jobs to voters, but not the pro-life stance. That pro-life vote is an absolute, engrained behavior in our electorate.

  11. bearcreekbat

    Ah the abortion conundrum and messaging. How about this approach:

    Abortions didn’t start because of Roe v. Wade, rather women just stopped dying from abortions. Vote for life!

  12. Mike’s shortlink takes us to a graphic on Democrats’ performance on the economy. He’s right: our economic record should speak for itself. Our economic message can be very simple: We do it right.

    But do records and facts matter in the Trump electorate, which just wants an excuse to act like Archie Bunker?

  13. John, there’s another vote for a Rapid City field office! Let’s get that ball rolling: divide up the SDDP staff! Instead of concentrating them in Sioux Falls, hire two positions for the SF office, one for Rapid City, and one for Aberdeen. Each office is then in charge of regional organizing. Each office then works under the guidance of an Executive Board member (Tornberg in Sioux Falls, Lowe in Rapid City, and a NE SD rep here in Aberdeen). How’s that grab you?

  14. Stace Nelson

    @Roger More nonsense and sour grapes. This is why Democrats lose. The facts are I that by the middle of March, I had knocked on every door in 1/2 of my district and put out 12,000 pamphlets with detailed information on where I stand on some of the top issues of concern for South Dakotans, who I am, and how I would serve voters if sent back to Pierre. But you keep peddling ignorance and insulting the intelligence of the voters and telling yourself the reason why you lose is because youre just not getting your message out to the voters and they’re stupid for voting for honest proven public servants like me. Only fools would think I had the largest win margin in a contested race in the whole state, and claim it was because the voters were ignorant.

    Clara Hart had $80,000 (?), more than her opponents combined. It’s not the lack of money that ensures your defeat, it’s where you stand on the issues and the ugly insults to the voters peddled by Democratic mouth pieces like Roger Cornelius.

  15. Stay out of the weeds with abortion, as is being proven I poke at these keys. There has not been a word about abolishing abortion so why not let it be? If a tea phony brings it up, why not just say, well it is up to you to do something about it. I am pro woman and believe in them. Then shut the hell up. Tea phony’s are in control of both chambers as well as the high chair, so there ya go. In South Dakota, much the same way. If they want to put a potty bill out there, let them. The voters should decide and whatever they do decide, then that is called democracy. If it drives business from the state, then that is the way to loose jobs rather than gain them. Sales tax is already down 16%, voters can make that up with more property taxes or some other form of tax and spend.

    Form a Minnesota based Democratic Party like the DFL where more Indies could come on home. The most important thing is to demand from the DNC the monies promised by Clinton and them in this past election. File a lawsuit against them.

  16. I see the neo-confederate Nelson is after you again Roger. I once had a girl friend just like Nelson, she was brutal but she only did it because she claimed she loved me. Maybe the same in a manly sort of way though for his supposed disdain for you.

    Nelson knows or should know that it costs money to campaign.

  17. Nelson also proves without doubt that money is the way to influence voters. My Daddy used to say that when folks try to drive you away from something, it usually means just the opposite. Thanks ya big lug for making my point.

  18. Stace Nelson

    @Jerry I hope you do get more money. I hope you, Owen, Roger, et al, are given an even bigger podium than DFP to broadcast your unreasonable hatred of Republicans. It will ensure even larger losses for the liberal agenda in the future. If you are too ignorant and arrogant to learn from history? You are bound to repeat it.

  19. John Tsitrian

    Cory, we have a lot of Democrats out here in the Hills. A gathering spot would be an asset. The state party is missing a chance to consolidate the support it has in the area. Local Dems could accomplish a lot if they had a place to coordinate their work and find a mutually supportive environment, both in terms of building morale and exchanging ideas.

  20. Roger Cornelius

    jerry, it pleases me to no end that I can so easily get under Nelson’s skin, apparently the truth hurts, huh Nelson?
    As further evidence that Nelson and republicans hang on to their core issues of abortion and 2nd Amendment rights, you don’t hear them talk about corruption or their tax increases.
    In fact republicans were opposed and insulted about the anti-corruption bill and tried to defeat it. Now, Nelson may talk about how bad South Dakota is, but he won’t do a damn thing about it, corruption is far down on his list of priorities, if it makes the list at all. Will there be further investigations of EB-5 and Gear Up, Nelson?
    republicans like nothing more than to call Democrats tax and spend liberals when the opposite is true. republicans have been in control of state government for the past 40 years and every tax and fee increase has been at their hands.
    I don’t hate republicans, in fact I have a great deal of respect for intelligent republicans like John Tristan and others like him. The true republicans I know aren’t reactionary and rude like Nelson, that want to help solve problems and settle issues responsibily, unlike Nelson that wants to reach for a gun, argue about abortion or give us his bona fides.

  21. Nelson, thank you for your good wishes regarding the campaign money. By having that availability for the podium, this new allegiance could broadcast the real differences between not doing anything bills that get challenged and lost in court battles and finding jobs for workers. I cannot speak for Roger or for Owen or even for Et Al, but I would guess they would be happy with having the money to reach out to the people with new choices.

  22. mike from iowa

    If you are too ignorant and arrogant to learn from history? You are bound to repeat it.

    Sez the guy from the party that tried to refight Vietnam in Iraq and lost bigly and the party that tried trickle down economics and failed spectacularly twice and want to do a threepeat.

  23. Roger,

    Last night, Augie played Wayne St. and Wayne had a Cornelius kid from Sisseton. Any relation? He is a heck of a ball player. Got in foul trouble early in the 2nd half or I think Wayne would have pulled off an upset. I think he is a Soph so has alot of potential. Natural athlete, good head, great shot, and plays great defense.

  24. Roger Cornelius

    Cornelius is a common name from Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, that is where I am enrolled although I also have Oglala Lakota blood. My Cornelius family is rather small so I doubt that he is a relative, but who knows.
    My father played professional basketball way back in the 30’s and 40’s and was considered quite good.
    Thanks for asking.

  25. Stace Nelson

    @Roger, Jerry, et al. For 6 years I have answered the petty internet troll bullying that you and others spread across SD cyberspace like a farmer spreads manure. Your kissing-cousins, the crony-capitalists, have thrown their entire weight into trying to ruin my good name with lies and concocted claims. How’d that work out for you?! https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CwzRdDVVEAE-i6n?format=jpg&name=large (mic drop)

  26. Nelson, you have been thanked sir, for your hopes for the funding necessary to make for a better party that will bring about more voice from an expanded podium. I do have a kissing cousin and would have hoped that she would not have told about those old days back on the creek bottom. Oh well, she was a good kisser though and certainly not a crony anything.

    Now, regarding your good name, I have never said anything about your name nor about any concocted claims. I am thinking that you must have me confused with someone else. I did hear though that when you ran for senate, a certain ex governor from the state of South Dakota may have bedeviled you with some bad press. But I assure you sir, we are not the same person.

  27. Porter Lansing

    Boycott Nelson. Even Pat Powers agrees.

  28. Ben Cerwinske

    By golly, I agree with Jerry. I’d vote for John Tsitrian for whatever office he decided to run for.

  29. What on earth could people boycott Mr. Nelson over? All he does is propose those goofy commemorations that waste time and will probably be a fillerbusterer galore on the floors of the legislatures, which could be very entertaining indeed. All we could boycott is listening to him. He has never gotten any serious law bills passed and his district is the same one that elected that Mr. Kloucek fellow over and over which shows something.

  30. owen reitzel

    I think I’d vote for John Tsitrian as well. Seems like a gentleman that Democrats could work with.
    Sadly the right would call him RINO.

  31. Porter Lansing

    Right, Grudz. I can only speak for myself. Responding to him just gives him validity where little exists.

  32. Roger Cornelius

    Nelson proves my point about dumb republican South Dakota voters, 78% of them voted for him in District 19.

    My apologizes for the Nelson distractions.

    I would join others in a heart beat to vote for John Tristan. He is intelligent and resourceful, I never miss reading his blog or his columns in the Rapid City Journal. Republicans could use more like him.