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Schoenbeck: Frye-Mueller’s Election Deniers Peddle “Some Kind of an Obsession or Fetish”

Republican politics appears to be boiling down to implying that all of your opponents are sex perverts.

Even the mostly un-Trumpy Senate boss Lee Schoenbeck trots out the pervy language to describe the Trumpist election deniers who’ve been pushing the “election integrity” bills that he helped kill yesterday:

The Senate State Affairs Committee sent Senate Bill 123, SB-124 and SB-128 to the 41st Day, killing all three “election integrity” bills 9-0 brought forward by Republican Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller.

“This is about harassing local officials,” Republican Sen. Lee Schoenbeck said after bringing a motion to defeat SB-124. “In this case, you have a group of a half a dozen people that clearly have some kind of an obsession or fetish.”

…“This would give them the ability to take their little hobby, their obsession and fetish and give papers to these county auditors all across South Dakota,” Schoenbeck said. “Instead of working on South Dakota, local issues that the auditors are elected to do, they would be stuck trying to help these people with their fetish” [Eric Mayer, “Senator Says Trio of Election Bills ‘Harass’ County Auditors,” KELO-TV, 2023.02.15].

Given those bills came from Senator Julie Frye-Mueller, whom Schoenbeck booted from committees and whom the full Senate censured for sexual harassment of a female Legislative employee, lobbing the words “obsession” and “fetish” seems quite pointed.

Schoenbeck is 100% correct about the election deniers’ obsession with falsehood and the practical impact their proposals would have of harassing county auditors and gumming up elections. And in a way, it’s nice to hear a powerful Republican turn the pervy language that QAnony Trumpists use to arouse undereducated voters’ ire at liberals—you know, all that Pizzagatish talk about how Democrats are all grooming Satanist homosexual pedophiles—toward those dangerous conspiracy theorists themselves. Schoenbeck helps us understand the projection in which those harmful fetishists engage, accusing their opponents of the very morose obsessions that drive those radical right-wingers to ignore facts and attack civic leaders and institutions.


  1. sx123 2023-02-16 06:55

    If some law passes and as a result I get harassed by some quacks while I help run the polling booth I’ll unswear the oath I took that morning (which every poll worker must take) and quit on the spot.

  2. Richard Schriever 2023-02-16 08:30

    Ummm – “fetish” =/= a sexual thing. A fetish is an object – an OBJECT – of worship. the Christian crucifix is, for example, a fetish.

  3. Mark Anderson 2023-02-16 08:47

    It’s nice to see the South Dakota’s legislature deal with the pressing issues of the state. Now I’ve got to get back to my grooming.

  4. Dicta 2023-02-16 09:05

    While I am happy to see republicans squashing this lunacy, I can’t help but remember these are the same people who fomented this paranoia when it was convenient to do so. Inertia’s a hell of a thing.

  5. leslie 2023-02-16 11:39

    When Republicans spout “election integrity” in SD that is not what they mean. Upside down is right side up,
    The Center for Renewing America is led by Russ Vought, a Christian nationalist and former head of Trump’s budget office. Vought has not just helped to popularize the “weaponization” trope (he has been using this language since at least 2021), but he also embodies its intent and hypocrisies.

    Vought is an extreme partisan who, when given the chance to govern, damaged the institutions of government. He weaponized government in the worst ways while in power.

    When out of power, Vought characterized legitimate uses of government power as “weaponization,” such as when the FBI searched, under court order, the home of a key player in Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. Vought is now building an “army” of far right ideologues with a “biblical worldview” to take control of federal agencies when a Republican administration returns to power. Vought told Axios: “We are consciously bringing on the toughest and most courageous fighters with the know-how and credibility to crush the deep state.”

    The “weaponization” trope therefore originates from the far-right of American politics. It serves the conspiratorial and anti-statist element of the Republican Party in several ways.

  6. Donald Pay 2023-02-16 13:22

    I think leslie has correctly stated that this is not fetishism. It’s fascism. Calling it fetishism trivializes the authoritarian attempt of a good chunk of the Republican Party to control election outcomes by rigging the system.

  7. Steve Simons 2023-02-16 14:10

    For whatever reasons, at least Lee Schoenbeck did the right thing.

  8. larry kurtz 2023-02-16 14:27

    Watching the chasm widening in the SDGOP makes me happy so maybe the Second Amendment people will sort it all out. Thoughts and prayers in advance!

  9. O 2023-02-16 14:56

    Larry, what is terrifying to me is that the chasm of the GOP-MAGA doesn’t seem to be weakening the overall power of the GOP (just as it didn’t seem to weaken it with the Tea Party). The GOP seems to find new radical elements of fake-populism to engulf for a few more years of life’s blood. The tent grows ever-larger and ever-further astray from the fundamental conservative beliefs that reasonable people could understand (but disagree with). This last iteration of an American Theocratic Taliban may well end up being the winning faction; if that is the case, then the “rational GOP” will have some hard decisions on if it wants to be the party supporting that hate machine. As long as abortion bans and tax cuts keep on keeping on, the answer will be yes.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-02-16 17:01

    Richard, you offer a technically correct definition of “fetish”, but I’m of the impression that if you plop that word into common public discourse, you’re talking about a sexual fetish. Does any Christian regularly refer to their cross as a fetish?

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-02-16 17:03

    I give Schoenbeck a lot of ink/electrons because (a) he’s a smart, interesting character, and (b) he’s the only South Dakota political actor with the occasional impulse to do the right thing and the power to make the right thing happen.

  12. John 2023-02-16 17:29

    CAB: Your instincts about Sen Schoenbeck appear spot on. Thank you for sharing them.

  13. grudznick 2023-02-16 17:59

    Mr. O, the Conservatives with Common Sense breakfastings include discussions on how to keep the overgodders at bay.

  14. O 2023-02-16 18:42

    At bay. . . but still included? Always room under the big tent for all supporters?

  15. grudznick 2023-02-16 18:57

    Not in charge of the campsite, Mr. O. They’ll go out to the kiddie tent for a while, while the adults talk grown-up talk in the big tent.

  16. Bob Newland 2023-02-16 19:18

    Yes, Cory, Schoenbeck does occasionally do the right thing. Even a fascist is not wrong 100% of the time. Even Schoenbeck probably loves his kids. You’re not wrong to give him electrons, It’s the totality of his eventual history that will tell the story. Depending on who writes the history.

  17. grudznick 2023-02-16 19:31

    grudznick will probably write much of it. Mr. Schoenbeck beware.

  18. Jake 2023-02-17 03:10

    grudz-if it’s “ok” with Noem, you will, right? (she’s the expert on history, ya know!)

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