By recent accounts Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin is exasperated with the base of her party...maybe a little angry, but mostly exasperated. Not with everyone, just those unwieldy populists. Those "liberals" who don't understand politics in the real world.
She is choking on the bone of incumbent lament. Powerful members of Congress can't exactly go around saying that their constituents are dumb, but in her private moments, she thinks, "Why don't these people trust me?" For three-term incumbents like Herseth-Sandlin, just beginning to earn a little Capitol Hill juice, the lament evolves ever so slightly from, "Why don't the people back home trust me?" to "These people need to trust me." This is the voice of condescension that suggests, "I have influence. I know how Washington works. I know what's best for South Dakota."
This incumbent's lament was given voice recently by former Democratic Party chairwoman Judy Olson Duhamel. In an Open Letter to Democrats, Olson Duhamel defended Congresswoman Herseth-Sandlin's opposition to the House health reform bill: "I'd ask you to consider the fact that her comprehension of the complexity of health care issues is far greater (my emphasis) than the understanding that most of us have." Really?
In the end, Herseth-Sandlin is in trouble with her base because she has never had to develop a relationship with her base. In six elections she has never had a primary, and as a result, she has never been tested as a Democrat. She does not owe allegiance to the base on any core values. She operates on the assumption that the base owes its allegiance to her.
Okay, I left out the really hot stuff. Be sure to go to Dakotaday.com and finish reading the essay there.
Sam has a great website. I encourage you to bookmark it and check in on him from time to time. Unlike me, Sam holds his fire until he has something really good to say. I think that's what they call a... ummm.. good writer.