Press "Enter" to skip to content

“Hard-Working” Clark Hopes to Replace Hickey, Campaigns on Anti-Elitism

Pat Powers notes that Dakota War College contributor Michael Clark would like to fill Steve Hickey’s District 9 House Seat:

…I also feel there is a segment of our population who is undeserved in the current legislature. That is the working poor. Not the homeless or the jobless, they have plenty of advocates. The ones I’m talking about are the people you call and yell at because you can’t watch the ball game, or the guy who changes your oil while you enjoy a latte. These don’t have time for politics, they busy holding down jobs, earning a paycheck, paying bills and raising families. Most of them don’t want anything from the government. These people are the ones who pays taxes and deserve to be heard.

In the current legislature there are small business people, teachers, and mix of other, but not one currently works in a call center cube farm.

I want to serve them, the hard working families of South Dakota [Michael Clark, Facebook post, 2015.08.16].

“Hard working” is apparently the adjective that every politician is required to use to campaign for office, as if everyone supporting the other side is a bunch of lazy bums. “Hard working” is not a unique class; that descriptor applies to individuals in every conceivable demographic bracket: rich and poor, urban and rural, Indian and white. Clark might as well be saying that his constituency is “nice people.”

Clark’s rhetoric reaches for the resentment of Joe Six-Pack against the perceived elites, which is funny, since I thought only we Democrats played class warfare. That anti-elitism shows he’s not dropping corn in the jar for Donald Trump, who probably has two lattés and a pedicure while Clark’s hard-working constituency changes the oil on his helicopter… but that same anti-elitism could strike a nerve with all those working folks who don’t have time for politics and thus are cheering Trump’s run only because they recognize the name and catch his noisy memes in their Facebook feeds.

Clark tries to spin his working-family-ism as conservatism—”most of them don’t want anything from the government”—but he’s wrong. Those working folks want as much from government as the rest of us. They want their public schools to offer good teachers, good lunch, and good after-school programs so they don’t have to pay for daycare out of their own pockets. They want their streets paved and plowed on time. They want the police and fire department and National Guard to show up when disaster strikes. They want their parks mowed and sprayed and ready for their all-too-infrequent recreational getaways. They want government to provide all those public goods and services so they can enjoy the fruits of liberty and democracy just like (or at least kinda like) the Trumps and other lazy elites living off the rent on their accumulated capital.

In other words, they don’t really want South Dakota Republicans, who pretend government is a tyrant to be slain. They want people who believe in government as a force for practical good, as a tool that we citizens use in collaboration to make liberty and prosperity possible for all South Dakotans—homeless and mansioneer, worker and manager, oil changer and latté sipper, call center drone and university professor.

We need government to work… and in a democracy, we all need to work at government. Rather than facilitating the idea that some people are too busy for “politics” (which leads to dangerous men like Trump leading national polls for President), Clark and anyone else seeking public office should work to convince all South Dakotans that government matters in their lives.


  1. 96Tears 2015-08-17 10:08

    Is it possible for a Republican candidate in South Dakota to talk about working families without seeming condescending? Clark would sound a lot more authentic and “like one of us” if his perspective of watching a guy change the oil in his car wasn’t among those who sip their latte while others work. Does this mean Clark will support making sure the minimum wage doesn’t discriminate against teenage working poor who make that sugar-free Cinnamon Dutch Apple Pie Latte with skimmed, zero fat milk?

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-17 10:18

    96, I’d love to hear Clark put his “hard-working” rhetoric into practice. What policies does one support to satisfy the needs of this alleged;y unrepresented contingent of call center cube workers and other similar working-class folks? The youth minimum wage is an excellent example of the Legislature not representing their interests: the working poor depend on their kids enjoying workplace protections so they can earn enough to go to college and ease the family’s budget crunch.

  3. Dave 2015-08-17 11:04

    MC’s word dribble at the war college during PP’s hiatus in Pierre proves to readers that the guy would be primarily a shill for the GOP in Pierre if elected. Since he doesn’t possess the communication skills of a sixth-grader, a common-sensed Democrat should have no problem gathering more votes than him.

  4. Lynn 2015-08-17 13:34

    I look forward to see where Michael Clark stands on a number of issues.

  5. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-08-17 13:45

    The rhetoric reminds me of signs waved at tea bagger rallies. I mean ones like this:


    As Lynn said, let’s hear some actual policies, not just sound bites.

  6. Jim 2015-08-17 14:39

    He wrote undeserved when I think he meant “under served”. I hope he knows the difference.

  7. larry kurtz 2015-08-17 17:12

    This guy related to Uncle Jimmo?

  8. Roger Cornelius 2015-08-17 18:31

    If those hard working poor don’t want anything from government, why is Clark wanting to help them?

    If they are working poor, they probably have some government benefits.

  9. mike from iowa 2015-08-17 19:11

    Roger,he did say they were undeserved. Freudian slip of the tongue?

  10. Owen 2015-08-17 19:32

    “I also feel there is a segment of our population who is undeserved in the current legislature. That is the working poor.”

    That’s garbage Pat. These might be under-served but they have no chance getting to Pierre. Their employers won’t let them or I should say they’ll let them but they have to find the person to do their job for 3 months and train them. In other words they can’t serve.

  11. grudznick 2015-08-17 19:36

    Perhaps the typo belongs to Mr. H. I, personally, think there are a lot of undeserved people but I suspect Mr. Clark actually said the other word in his facebook.

  12. Roger Cornelius 2015-08-17 19:36

    mike from iowa, it could well be a Freudian slip, but I think it is more likely he doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about.

  13. grudznick 2015-08-17 19:54

    Mr. C, can you log into the Facebook and check what that fellow really wrote?

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-17 20:58

    Grudz, I copied and pasted the text directly from Mr. Clark’s post. As if this moment, the text remains “undeserved.” I deem it a typo.

    The working folks of whom Clark speaks and considers himself one are indeed underrepresented in elected office, for exactly the reason he gives: most working folks can’t afford to take time to campaign and serve. But it may pain Clark to discuss the deeper cause of that under-representation: the Republican war on worker rights. Our anti-union laws leave workers with low pay and less leverage to bargain for political leave. If Clark wants to see more working-class folks serving in the Legislature, he should support Democratic efforts to strengthen labor protections and raise wages.

  15. grudznick 2015-08-17 21:08

    Oh. I don’t really understand how those things work. Usually you seem to delight in other’s grammar or spelling errors and put that [sick] thing out there, so I thought maybe it was just a typo when you put his quote into your machine. I stand mistaken and am glad to be corrected.

  16. Troy 2015-08-18 06:19

    One attribute in short supply in politics is gentleness. Mike Clark is a gentle and thoughtful man. He will stand out exactly in the way he doesn’t stand out.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-18 06:38

    Troy, how many legislators are noted for their gentleness? Is gentleness a useful quality in Pierre?

  18. Lynn 2015-08-18 07:29


    With “gentleness” would you mean that Mike Clark would be non-polarizing legislator focusing on more reasonable practical problem solving abilities?

    Otherwise it seems we have a few of the same polarizing legislators that seem to create and sensationalize problems to solve every year that didn’t exist while kicking the can down the road on REAL issues our state faces annually.

  19. larry kurtz 2015-08-18 07:59

    As long as South Dakota empowers the governor to be an autocrat gentleness in legislators means signing on to an extremist agenda written by ALEC. I already miss Steve Hickey.

  20. MC 2015-08-18 16:31

    What people are tried of is polarized politics.

    I am for legal immigration, a way of keep track of who is coming across the border.
    I am against opening the border to whoever, and I’m also against a closed border.

    We need a government, but not a government that controls every aspect of our lives.

    We need a government that is responsible to all the people, not businesses and not the special interests, and not those with the loudest voices.

    Most people are not far wingnut right or far kook-job left, but somewhere in between. Most people are tried of being spoken to, and they want some to listen them.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-18 17:43

    MC speaks! Hoo-rah!

    Border politics—I assume, MC, you’re talking about the U.S.–Mexico border, which does not abut our state and thus has not been a major focus of the District 9 delegation’s work.

    Government seeking to “control every aspect of our lives”—are you speaking of South Dakota’s onerous abortion laws? Legislators trying to subject teachers to increasing state mandates? Do enumerate your further examples.

    “responsible to all all the people”—I suspect here you mean GOED’s willingness to give corporate welfare to Bel Brands, Dakota Provisions, and other wealthy businesses that can get by without our help while ignoring the call to provide health coverage for the working poor by expanding Medicaid.

    I think we can agree that plenty of far right wingnuts have been wearing out South Dakota voters, but I’m having trouble finding the far-left kook jobs influencing policy in South Dakota. Please elaborate.

  22. grudznick 2015-08-18 17:46

    Mr. Clark, do you think the South Dakota legislatures have much to say about open or closed borders and is that something they should be focusing their time on? Would you focus time on it if you were in Mr. Hickey’s old chair facing the Speaker who was holding a gavel and clock over your head?

  23. MC 2015-08-18 22:00

    Cory, the point I was attempting to make was there is little middle ground in today’s politics. One is either far right or far left. I believe most of the answers is somewhere between the two. Cory I have read some of your arguments on varies topics, and I have acknowledge your wisdom. I have always supported your position, however I value your input.

    When it comes to education, I would much rather have students who can think and solve complex problems than have pupils who can just answer questions on a test. Teachers compensation package must be improved. However we must recognize that school boards control teachers’ pay. At the same time we have to realize the state budget pie is only so big. and there others coming to the party.

    When it comes to the borders, South Dakota does have stake. While we can’t control who goes across the border, we can do something about those employers who import these workers.

    I support the 36% rate cap that Mr. Hickey started. I believe there is a place for title and payday loans, however these loans have become too easy to get, and the cost is too high in some cases.

    There are other issues like how to take of our ailing infrastructure. We have to deal with a multitude of social issues.

  24. Roger Cornelius 2015-08-18 22:43

    Clark appears to be riding the popularity of Trump’s immigration rants, it is getting a lot of tea party attention that appeals to the far right.

    The fact of the matter is that whether the other issues that need to be fixed are teacher pay, improved infrastructure or the borders, the SDGOP has had forty years to find solutions for these problems and all they have done is watch things get worse.

  25. grudznick 2015-08-18 23:41

    Mr. Clark, I do not intend to move out of districts numbering in the 3x’s just to vote against you or for you. I have people here that it is my duty as the past president of the Conservatives with Common Sense to push and pull for.

    But you need to lay out your agenda. Border bull for your district is a waste of time and panders to the ignorant. Are you going to get the ignorant vote with bullshit information or have a substantive campaign where you talk about giraffes and bike trails around District 9? Or maybe you have a grander scheme like Mr. Hickey did. But Hickey quit.

    Hickey quit. If you want to run, don’t quit.

  26. grudznick 2015-08-18 23:43

    Even kurtz doesn’t really quit.
    Rolling over can’t be called quitting when it takes that long.

  27. larry kurtz 2015-08-19 06:45

    Wow, MC: illiterate much?

  28. Lynn 2015-08-19 07:46


    You stated above “We have to deal with a multitude of social issues.” Can you please elaborate on that?

  29. MC 2015-08-19 10:09

    Of course lynn;

    Keep in mind most of these problems won’t be ‘fixed’ over night or by state government going it alone they didn’t just pop up They grew over time. and it is going to take time to resolve them.

    Homelessness – While homelessness is most often a symptom of a much larger issues, it has to be addressed before the underlying issues can be resolved. I would like to work with HUD, county, and city government to set up some kind of transitional housing. Interlakes Community Action Partnership has a great program going in Sioux Falls. I would like to see this program transplanted in other communities. I would be careful about expanding the one they have now, once it gets too big, then it becomes more like ‘Project Housing.’

    Health Care – I know this is a hot button topic. I am going to be honest, I don’t like Obamacare. Simply because it doesn’t bring health care to the people that need it the most. (it pays for it, but there is no one to pay) We need more health care workers on the reservations, and other rural areas. Yes, I know, Dr. Bosworth is there, but, she is not practicing medicine, she is there to serve her sentence. I can even support the idea of mobile clinics or hospitals on train or truck. So long as we can get real doctors with the right equipment to the people who need it most.
    We can’t talk about health care without talking about prevention. Some 90% (the exact figure escapes me for the time being) emergency room and urgent care visits are somehow related to life style choices. Fast food is convenient, but it has to be balanced with fruits and vegetables. The diet has to be balanced with exercise and rest. There is no way to enforce this, but maybe we can encourage a more balanced lifestyle. Some how I don’t believe it is right for someone who takes care of himself, and their family, eats a balanced diet, exercises and only sees the doctor for yearly check ups, has to pay for someone who eats poorly, sits around, smokes two packs a day, drinks until he passes out, does drugs and know everyone at the ER on a first name basis. At some point we will all have to take some personal responsibility for ourselves. No, I don’t like to see people suffer. For some of them they have to hit rock bottom before they start making changes. And that bring us to Mental Health. Dealing with mental heal issues isn’t easy or inexpensive. We need to find a way to address these issues early on, if we don’t, they cost society much more later on.
    I can support a limited expansion of Medcaid to include some (not all ) lower income workers. We need to find a way to pay for it all, in a reasonable manner, so we all don’t suffer.

    Minimum wage should be the same for everyone. If I have a work that needs to be done, say cutting the yard. I expect to pay more or less depending on the quality of work, not the age of the workers. If you do a good job you might get $75.00 If you do a poor job maybe $30. To me it doesn’t matter if you are 16, 36, or 76 years old. I have butted heads with Cory about this living wage business. Working at a fast food restaurant or even at Wal-Mart as a stocker, is not meant as a career, It is meant to teach job skills, If you want to earn more, get more education and apply for better jobs. This education needs to be made available a reasonable rate.

    We must take care of our heroes, our veterans. The held the line. They protected us and our freedoms, when they transition from the military, some of them get lost in the bureaucracy. Some of them have Mental Health issues, some lack marketable job skills. They will not take hand outs, they have been conditioned to know there is a price for every thing. They need help (some more than others) to transition back to civilian life. We need to really step up for this one.

    I am only glazing over the top of these topics I hope this helps.

  30. larry kurtz 2015-08-19 10:24

    Clark outlines a strategy for national politics by avoiding talk about his autocratic governor and extremist legislature: how nonpartisan.

  31. Lynn 2015-08-19 11:12


    Thank you for going into some detail in how you would approach some of the issues we face!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.