The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What now?

We can analyze the election to death. Those who won can thumb their noses at those who lost. And those who lost can recite huge diatribes about why the winners didn't play fair, otherwise the losers would have won.

My opinion follows and yours are welcome. My comments will be largely about the House race, which at times was shamefully negative...on both sides.

What Noem did right
: Her message resonated with voters who are disgusted with Washington. She paid a lot of attention to West River voters, coming here often and meeting voters here. She secured the very popular Sen. John Thune to assist her in the final weeks of the election. Her last television ad was perhaps her best.

In the end, I believe that she was able to communicate to South Dakotans that she is one of us.

What Herseth Sandlin did wrong: As an incumbent, she had two terms to develop a record she could be proud to boast about in South Dakota. And, she tried to do that with several of her ads, specifically those about her work with veterans and her "loud and clear" ad. But, primarily, in trying to draw a distinction between her and her opponent, all she could come up with was Noem's traffic record. And, that just wasn't enough. Discussions about possible conflicts of interest with her lobbyist husband, she implied the issue was laughable. But nobody was laughing. In the end, (my opinion) Herseth Sandlin made the same mistake that Tom Daschle and George McGovern made before her: She forgot who sent her to Washington.

As Kristi Noem begins her career in national politics, it is clear to me that Stephanie Herseth Sandlin's career is far from over. She is a bright, articulate and passionate public servant. She appears bright enough to not make the same mistakes twice. We wish her well.

And, in the Noem camp, the workers have probably breathed a huge sigh of relief and are now asking themselves, "What now?"

Here's what now:

1. Go to Washington and do exactly what you've said you would do.

2. Come back to the state often and meet with the people who sent you to Congress AND the people who voted for your opponent.

3. Do not allow yourself to be corrupted by the process, thereby becoming part of the problem instead of the solution.

4. Learn from, and work with, Democrats without sacrificing your conservative principles. Find a way to be a catalyst in reversing the polarity in American politics.

5. Learn. Then apply the knowledge to achieving good. A legacy of statesmanship is preferable to a legacy of incumbency and longevity.


Duffer said...

Well said - for the most part - Michael.

I'd disagree that SHS (forgot who sent her to Washington). She pandered to everyone except for her Progressive base - her most ardent supporters and financiers. She lost a number of those votes - and independents. The GOP also did a great job with voter turnout.

It's easy to demonize a Democrat in South Dakota.

Wayne Gilbert said...

I think that what Noem did right was run in the right party in the right year. In the current climate, Herseth-Sandlin ran surprisingly strong. Noem's victory is not a mandate in any sense, it's just SD business as usual. I don't know how else you can explain how a major subsidy recipient can run on a campaign to cut spending.

Bill Fleming said...

What did Noem do wrong? She lied.

What did she do right? She lied.

That's pretty much it from my perspective.

Wayne Gilbert said...

I think the lies and hypocrisy almost did her in--otherwise her numbers should have been closer to Daugaard's.

Douglas said...

"5.earn. Then apply the knowledge to achieving good. A legacy of statesmanship is preferable to a legacy of incumbency and longevity."

Maybe she can go to nightschool in DC and get a degree in political science or broadcast journalism.

More seriously, read Bill Fleming's "She lied" comment again.

larry kurtz said...

Right on, Bill.

With a little luck, the Natives will get restless. The lame duck session is still to come.

Richard said...

"In the end, I believe that she was able to communicate to South Dakotans that she is one of us."

One of us? Really? Someone who doesn't pay fines resulting from traffic tickets and failure to appear in court is 'one of us'? To me, the issue wasn't about tickets. It was about Noem not paying fines and not showing up in court. That is irresponsible. Perhaps all of the 153,790 people who voted for her consider Noem to be one of them but I do not.

Thad Wasson said...

SHS threw her base under the bus. The past election cycles her volunteers would wave signs that bore her name and go door-to-door for her.

That never happened in 2010.

Wayne Gilbert said...

Thad: you may be right but we'll have to analyze the numbers from both 2008 and 1010 to see if her base either deserted her by voting for Noem (which I doubt) or if her base just didn't vote. I am a little skeptical of your premise because I am a member of the base that felt alienated by her but, in the end, cast my vote for her.

Duffer said...

In the booth - I hesitated - but marked it. As Thad indicates, some of us may have caved and voted at the last minute, but we didn't contribute as in the past. How many times can you turn a cheek?

Bill Dithmer said...

I'm afraid that I knew the election was lost when Noem was allowed to frame the race based on SHSs voting record. The unusual thing was the presumed backroom deal made with the speaker. In other words people back here in South Dakota were mad at SHS because she didn’t vote the way they thought she would but instead voted the way they would have if given the chance. Its tough to win an election when reality is over ridden by the perception, no mater how misguided, of how events actually are thought to have happened.

This midterm election was more about anger then direction or ideas. The American public is mad about the economy, and rightly so. Both political parties have taken part in this mess and should own up to their mistakes but unfortunately that isn't going to happen unless they are forced to do so. Don’t worry there is plenty of blame to go around including the people that send the politicians to represent them in DC.

Unfortunately there isn't a fast fix to this problem. We are in fact a capitalistic nation and it will take longer for us to crawl out of this hole then it would for an industrialized nation that doesn’t depend on outsourced jobs for internal profit. It will be at least 2013 before this country recovers and more then likely 2019 for a full recovery. Am I being pessimistic, yup, but I would like to think of it as being realistic. The good times are not just around the corner, they are down the road a piece.