Even in the rare places where Democrats will be on the ballot in South Dakota, we can’t get the Democrat to say good things about being a Democrat:
Nicole Heenan wants to be judged as a fifth-generation South Dakotan or a small business owner, not as a Democrat.
But on the November 2022 ballot, she’ll be listed as both the lone challenger to Republican incumbent Helene Duhamel in District 32, which is made up of central and northern areas of Rapid City, and a Democrat.
“I’m tired of a two-party system,” Heenan said. “I feel like it’s an antiquated system, but it’s what we’ve got to work with right now” [Eric Mayer, “Running as a Democrat in South Dakota,” KELO-TV, 2022.04.05].
Heenan tells Mayer she switched from independent to Democratic last month (Mayer’s word) “reluctantly”:
She said the national tone of the Democratic Party is not applicable or appropriate to South Dakota, but said running as an independent for state office was not efficient.
“When you look at the asymmetry and how little diversity South Dakota has, it’s heartbreaking,” Heenan said. “I want to work really hard at coming up with sensible solutions instead of the same narrative and divisive politics that South Dakota seems to have settled into” [Mayer, 2022.04.05].
But Heenan can’t bring herself to speak the full discomforting truth: Republicans are responsible for stifling discussion and diversity with their hyperpartisan narrative and divisive politics. “Democrats” on the ballot will surrender to the Republican narrative that Democrats are evil, lodge faint attacks on the two-party system in vague terms that leave intact the soothing but false both-sidesism that excuses Republican party-line voting, and then after a drubbing in November wonder why they didn’t move the political needle away from the stagnant one-party regime.
If you want to beat the majority party’s candidates, you have to make the case that the majority party is wrong and that the opposition party can do a better job. Running as a reluctant Democrat and saying the Democratic Party is inappropriate and inapplicable won’t win votes.