I’d sure hate being Pat Powers, running a blog paid for by my party establishment and thus feeling obligated to run every disingenuous press release and vacuous puff piece and fundraising pitch from my party leaders instead of offering any original, thoughtful, infromative writing on South Dakota politics.
But I will take a moment this morning to post one missive from one of my party leaders, not because my party told me to, and not because the writer is paying me to (and that’s, what, 90% of what poor Pat publishes?). I post this fundraising e-mail from rookie Representative Erin Healy (D-14/Sioux Falls), not just because I like her, and not just because I’m pleased to see she’s running for reëlection in 2020, but because the things she chooses to mention to her base show the vast difference between Democratic pragmatism and Republican radical dogmatism.
Read Healy’s fundraising pitch, and notice the utter absence of partisan ideology, dog whistles, and outright lies:
One year ago, I was elected to represent District 14 in the South Dakota State House. It is the greatest honor to represent my neighbors in Pierre. I regularly hear from voters about the issues that compelled me to run, and the shared values so many of us hold dear.
This past year has been filled with nonstop action as a legislator. I served on a task force studying how to localize mental health treatments in every community, held countless meetings with early learning stakeholders to determine how to make preschool more accessible, and in two weeks I’ll be visiting Indianapolis to meet with other state legislators to discuss tackling issues surrounding higher education.
I have learned so much about the everyday struggles and aspirations of so many South Dakotans. These stories inspire my work to build relationships in Pierre and bring common sense, policy-driven solutions to the table. Because there’s still so much to be done, I am running for re-election in 2020 — and I need your help to win!
Your financial contribution to my campaign this year will make a huge difference in my ability to compete next year. I’m expecting tough competition, but with your support I’ll be able to run another strong campaign. Together we can invest in our state and make sure the voices of every South Dakotan have an opportunity to be heard.
Please visit my ActBlue page to make a contribution, or just write a check to Healy for House (PO Box 253, Sioux Falls, SD 57104) [Rep. Erin Healy, fundraising e-mail, 2019.11.14].
Representative Healy doesn’t mention party… an omission that should make the idealist me mad but which the pragmatist me must accept as a rationale tactic under the utter trashing of the Democratic brand wrought by the SDGOP and made only worse by the abject failure of the SDDP’s past leadership. She doesn’t mention the other party. She doesn’t tie her politics to any national figures. She talks entirely about seeking practical solutions to South Dakota problems: mental health, preschool, and higher education. She conducts no culture war (though, good grief, against Senator Phil Jensen’s crass misogyny, she’d better!). She says nothing that sounds like the Marxist-Leninist cries that the opposing party’s rhetoric would make you think we Democrats are after. She just says, I want to solve problems, so send me money and send me back to Pierre.
Compare Representative Healy’s pitch to Governor Kristi Noem’s Trumpish fundraising letter last week. Noem’s letter opened and closed with partisan labels and ideology. She cast her fundraising entirely in terms of Fox News politics, Trump vs. Pelosi, “PROUD” conservatives vs. liberals and the “Radical Left.” Noem’s pitch is filled with exaggeration and dissemblage, like crediting Trump for announcing “a new play to expand ethanol production” right after co-signing a letter protesting the fact that Trump’s EPA is not enacting that promise. Noem shamelessly mongs fear and mistrust with corrosive lies, telling her supporters “we can’t trust the media to tell the truth” and warning that Democrats “are pushing their failed ideas and dangerous ideology out to all corners of America, trying to weaken support for America’s founding values and impose Open Borders Socialism on our country.”
Republicans like Kristi Noem raise money by fanning the flames of fear and hatred. Democrats (her e-mail and website suggest she might prefer that party label be kept in parentheses) like Erin Healy raise money by telling the truth about what they actually want to do in government to serve the general welfare.
That distinction between truth and fiction, between pragmatic problem-solving and propaganda, is the key difference between today’s Democrats and Republicans… and it’s the key difference between what I write every day and what Pat Powers posts to his spin blog.