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Replacing Trump with Biden Coincides with More Civility in Pierre

Legislators and their pals are congratulating themselves on a purported return to civility during the 2023 Session:

Tim Rave is a health care lobbyist who served 13 years in the South Dakota Legislature in the early 2000s, including as speaker of the House and Senate majority leader.

…“It is markedly different than it has been the past four or five years,” Rave said. “You’ve seen the House and Senate come together, and even when they don’t come together on issues, there’s just a more cordial, respectful debate among the chambers.”

…Rep. Will Mortenson, R-Pierre… said he has tried to improve civility and decorum in the House by implementing what he calls “the new old-fashioned way” of legislating.

“It might be new compared to the last four years, but I really view my job and my goal as restoring some of the positive traditions of legislating that we’ve have had in South Dakota for decades, and I think we’re on path to do that,” Mortenson told News Watch. “Being respectful, talking to one another directly and honestly, and solving things the South Dakota way has been a real goal.”

[Bart Pfankuch, “Civil Civics: Observers Note More Positive Pulse in South Dakota Politics,” South Dakota News Watch, 2023.03.07].

Senator Helene Duhamel (R-32/Rapid City) credits the mainstream GOP House leadership that she and her Schoenbeck wing of the party helped install for this perceived pleasantry. But she also admits that her own party bears the blame for the previous pugnaciousness by electing a meanie as President:

“Part of the problem with the Trump presidency was that it became OK to be disagreeable when you disagree. … It became OK to call people names, and I think that has trickled down and caused us issues in our state,” she said.

“We should be statesmen and we should behave as statesmen. … If you don’t treat people well, how in the world do you ever expect to work with them and find a compromise or have them see your point of view? We have to stop this because it doesn’t work and it’s dividing people and I think we can do better” [Pfankuch, 2023.03.07].

So Duhamel appears to be endorsing the idea that electing Donald Trump made things worse in Pierre… and electing Joe Biden made things better.

Role models matter. Elect a decent civil servant like Joe Biden to lead the country, and other elected leaders and citizens will follow his example.

Civility in state politics—yeah, Joe Biden built that!


  1. Jake 2023-03-10 08:24

    That is a huge “AMEN” , Cory, but I doubt if there are many Republicans who would accept the thought!

    They have become the party of grievance, hatred and retribution: just listen to the vocal leaders they have!!

  2. Loren 2023-03-10 08:34

    “… If you don’t treat people well, how in the world do you ever expect to work with them?”

    Well, ever since the Newt Gingrich era/G.W. Bush era, the GOP has believed, “You are either for me or against me.” They don’t plan on compromise, ergo civility is not required… or so it seems.

  3. cibvet 2023-03-10 09:08

    Loren is correct. The division and hatred all started with the Newt Gingrich era and will continue as acceptable behavior.

  4. Steve Simons 2023-03-10 10:45

    Division may have become acceptable in earlier eras, remember ‘gridlock’, but this is a case of trickle down working. Donald Trump brought us the lack of basic etiquette. That is now everywhere. Airlines, schools, and restaurants for example. Not just the legislature in Pierre.

  5. flopster 2023-03-10 11:27

    That is good IF civility will continue.
    In my opinion I believe that the Rev. Jerry Falwall in the early 80’s started all this political/religious gnashing in the Reagan administration. And the US hasn’t been the same since. They were ‘right fighters’ on the right and so on. He did it all with a smile (smirk) on his face. Ick.

  6. Mark Anderson 2023-03-10 11:46

    It goes back farther than Newt. Look at Terry Dolan. In 1980 he went low as you can go and got McGovern, Bayh, Church, and Culver from South Dakota, Indiana, Idaho, and Iowa. He was a closeted gay of course and died from aids. In the closet all the way.

  7. e platypus onion 2023-03-10 12:26

    Kudos to Biden, again. I’m just going to drop this tidbit here…. U.S. Job Growth Remains Solid
    Employers added 311,000 jobs in February, another stronger-than-expected showing, but the robust labor market further complicates the Federal Reserve’s decisions on interest rates.

  8. Jake 2023-03-10 12:30

    Could this be the “root cause” of the Republican party’s consistent decline over the past two decades and the losses their party has experienced at the Popular vote of the people?

  9. Donald Pay 2023-03-10 13:52

    Actually, you need both civility and, at the right times, a certain amount of incivility (“good trouble”} in the system, or you end up with tyranny and bad policy. There is a balance to be had at some times and with some issues. Using legislation to pick on people, as with all the attacks on transgender and gay youth, needs to be hammered down hard. People shouldn’t be civil to bullies who use various minorities as legislative punching bags. Taking away rights to vote or to have votes counted, as the Republicans across the nation have done and are still doing is not civil behavior, and should be met with as much incivility as it takes to make the system work for voters, not for a political party that can’t find any issues to attract people. Taking away students rights to academic freedom by imposing nonsense “education standards” or “bans” needs the appropriate level of incivility to protect those students. Being “civil” got you an unconstitutional system that hampered people’s rights to use the initiative. Some of that system still stands. It needs to be completely dismantled, by civil or uncivil means.

  10. Donald Pay 2023-03-10 14:11

    Here is the Argus Leader headline I saw: “DeSantins tells Iowans culture wars can win elections for Republicans.” See, this is what I’m talking about. Beat up on gays and transgenders in an effort to gain a political victory. He cares about “woke culture” only because he thinks people are as dumb and uncivil as he pretends to be. He’s a bully as much as Trump is. It turns out being against “woke” is actually not a good political position. USA Today says that most people see “woke” as a good thing.

  11. Kurt Evans 2023-03-10 14:54

    Cory writes:

    Senator Helene Duhamel (R-32/Rapid City) credits the mainstream GOP House leadership that she and her Schoenbeck wing of the party helped install for this perceived pleasantry. But she also admits that her own party bears the blame for the previous pugnaciousness by electing a meanie as President…

    Last year Lee Strubinger wrote for South Dakota Public Broadcasting:

    “Anybody that’s making some cheap political argument that has to do with trusts in South Dakota ought to be slapped or spanked,” said state Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, a Republican from Watertown.

    Lee Schoenbeck’s pugnaciousness predates “wackadoodles” and the election of President Trump:

    Making mistakes is one thing, but never admitting them is another.

  12. LCJ 2023-03-10 17:40

    If civility means an agreement to not pass any legislation that the average South Dakotan really has a genuine concern about, then you bet!!!

  13. Bob Newland 2023-03-10 17:46

    Back about 1994, when Helene was the Tucker Carlson of KOTA TV, she decided not to allow the Libertarian candidates for office, whom were on the ballot, to participate in that sorry channel’s political “debates.” I called and asked her why.

    She said, “We’ve found that when minor candidates participate in our debates, they devolve into an exchange of ideas.” I suggested that maybe that wasn’t a bad thing. She said, “Have a nice day,” and disconnected.

    In those days, she also loved to display film of piles of literal ditchweed being burned. This was cannabis harvested from borrow pits, none of which anyone wanted. Her voice-over quoted law enforcement saying how many billions of dollars of “marijuana” was being removed from the local market.

    Pennington County is indeed fortunate in having her voice of reason dribbling about the Capitol.

  14. Jake 2023-03-10 18:11

    Bob Newland- she and about 80% of her Republican cohorts imbedded in Pierre’s (ours by the way!) legislature are entirely focused on doing the bidding of massive corporations like Walgreens and CVS that succumb to a GOP (Red state) Attorney General that doesn’t think that an FDA approved drug is or should be sold to women for their health benefit and well being! Thank God for pharmacys that aren’t in the pockets of the GOP. Walgreens has gained thousands and thousands of $$$ from myself, Medicare, and my insurance in past 20 years, but after last week’s corporate decision to forbid sale of FDA approved drug to needy women–they will NOT get another damned penny from me!

  15. 96Tears 2023-03-10 18:28

    I’m convinced. Republicans have 91 percent of the legislative seats. They have unfettered control of the governor’s office since January 1979. They have held every statewide office for the last several years.


    What we need in Pierre is more Republicans.

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-03-11 06:37

    Steve, I agree: arguably the worst impact of the Trump Presidency was the elevation of a bad moral example to the heights of power, where he was able to imprint children and adults alike with the idea that bad behavior is not only tolerable but the way to get ahead. Trump has doomed us to a generation of bullying.

    Duhamel needs to take her message about the harmful impact of Trumpism on Legislative decorum to her constituents and speak about it every chance she gets. She needs to lead a Republican Party effort to repudiate Trump and Trumpist bullying and restore civility to general public life. That’s the culture war America needs right now.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-03-11 06:40

    Kurt rightly points out that Duhamel’s assertion that some civility has returned to Pierre as Trump recedes does ring a bit hollow with some of the bullying rhetoric that still flows so easily from GOP leaders, not to mention the bullying legislation that DeSantis is telling them to use to win elections.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-03-11 06:44

    I do like Donald’s point about the need for occasional incivility. Some of the politeness talk in Pfankuch’s article sounds like the mealy-mouthed hogwash Al Novstrup sputters at crackerbarrels and debates about civility and “being nice to everyone“. For Al and other Republican leaders, that talk of civility is just a way to insulate themselves from real arguments about policy and to marginalize critics as meanies.

  19. Jake 2023-03-11 09:26

    Cory, (and Donald) you’re right; there’s a time and place for ‘incivility’ also. It was definitely ‘incivil’ for our early settlers in this nation to rise up against their “Mother” country – England- and fight from behind trees and from shadows to gain their independence -but they (we) did it, didn’t we?
    Problem today is that the “MAGA” right is against any concept of submission to higher powers; meaning anyone or anything but them as being in charge/control of governing society. The “chaos” of the trump years would be replaced by the Desantis’, trump, and so called MAGA types with their “All About Me” – “only I can fix it” mentality…

  20. All Mammal 2023-03-11 11:38

    Sen. Duhamel shows how civil she is in her city signs in downtown Rapid City warning it is illegal to give to panhandlers. Of all the infinite causes in the universe for do-gooders to choose from, she picked a mission against charity to panhandlers? Wow. Her commercials are ridiculous when they say let the volunteer charity organizations help the needy. Don’t give to the homeless. It is quite tyrannical to outlaw me giving a couple bucks to people I feel like giving to that are outside. I do it even more now. Sometimes, I even crack open a beer and share one with people who are outside. Security guards tried to stop me but they can’t. What a rebel.

  21. bearcreekbat 2023-03-11 13:06

    While giving to charities that help the homeless is certainly worth encouraging, it is not an “either or” proposition. Telling people to stop helping individuals by using a false stereotype about people in need is sickening and IMHO immoral. I agree with and appreciate All Mammel’s approach. Every individual deserves dignity and respect, which means in part being judged on their own actions not the actions of others.

  22. grudznick 2023-03-11 16:17

    Ms. Mammal, I give those ladies and fellows uncracked packs of six beers because they appreciate the transportability of the uncracked versions. Now and then, I offer a bite of my breakfast to raggedy fellows who wander by if I’m dining outside on the sidewalk.

  23. Lorraine Besmer 2023-03-12 13:20

    Once again, Helene Duhamel has proven that she is a Democrat at heart! Her husband, Steve Duffy, changed parties to run as a representative on the GOP ticket. They also contributed to the Hillary Clinton campaign. That alone shows their allegiance to the Democrat party. I certainly have more respect for Democrats who admit they are Democrats than I do for Democrats posing as Republicans! I wonder if they even read the GOP Platform. Copies were given to all the Republican legislators at the beginning of the session. Copies are also available at the Pennington County GOP headquarters.
    Lee Schoenbeck has never been known to have civil behavior! He is one of the worst bullies ever to serve in the SD Legislature. With his screaming, yelling and name-calling, he should have been censored long ago.

  24. larry kurtz 2023-03-12 15:38

    Ms. Besmer, what is your solution for ending the RINO grip on the SDGOP?

  25. Mark Anderson 2023-03-12 19:05

    Well Larry, if the Pubs can decimate their Rinos they will never win an election. It’s great.

  26. larry kurtz 2023-03-13 19:09

    After Mrs. Noem called him a Communist Raphael Warnock found some common ground with South Dakota’s senior US Senator, Comrade Thune for some good old fashioned socialism as Republicans pony up to the farm bill trough. Will funders never cease?

  27. Kurt Evans 2023-03-14 23:32

    I’d quoted South Dakota Public Broadcasting:

    “Anybody that’s making some cheap political argument that has to do with trusts in South Dakota ought to be slapped or spanked,” said state Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, a Republican from Watertown.

    Lorraine Besmer writes:

    Lee Schoenbeck has never been known to have civil behavior! He is one of the worst bullies ever to serve in the SD Legislature.

    Thanks for the comment, Lorraine. I agree.

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