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.