I notice in the latest pitch for Mike Rounds at the Dakota War College site that Mr. Troy Jones is urging support for Rounds because he's a Republican. Really. That's it. The piece basically makes the case that we need to send Republican Rounds to the Senate in order to change the balance of legislative power there, assuming Rounds is part of a tide that will give the GOP a Senate majority. Meantime Rounds himself has been straining to take the campaign focus away from the Slaughterhouse EB-5 imbroglio and getting it back to the "issues"--as if character and his performance as governor aren't issues.
It's a nice try, but it will backfire. For one thing, we send people to Congress to represent us, not the national party. Independent Larry Pressler puts it into a nice nutshell, "I'm as independent as South Dakota." Why Rounds doesn't try to sell himself as an effective force for fighting for us South Dakotans, regardless of national party politics, is a glaringly weak point in his campaign, but as long as his focus is on the national political landscape, let's check that one out and see what happens. I'll start with the economy.
To my way of thinking, the country's economy as done pretty well with Obama in the White House and Dems controlling the Senate. I'm pretty sure that all my Republican friends and associates are very well tuned in to the major economic indicators that affect them and their investment activities. I certainly am, and I couldn't ask for a better set of results since Obama took office. Consider the Dow Jones Industrial Average. In both real and inflation-adjusted terms it has taken off since the onset of the Obama administration, having more than doubled since the market's disastrous selloff at the end of the Bush years. Even ignoring that giant-sized gain, the DJIA is still a good 25% (including dividends) higher than it was during its peak in the Bush administration. Why on earth would good Republicans who are reaping some fabulous gains want to change the status quo in the Senate, given returns like these?
Fact is, voters who matter in a very important sense--those who plunk down serious money on the future of the United States--are making a profound statement about their optimistic outlook. And it doesn't just stop with the stock market. Interest rates are at historic lows, reflecting some of the lowest inflation rates in a generation. Economic growth is steady, if not spectacular, and even the relatively low labor participation (sorry about the jargon, but sometimes I just can't help it) rate seems to be a factor that the economy can deal with, considering that consumer spending and sentiment remain strong. The great cattle prices that South Dakota producers are enjoying right now are a function of more than low inventories. Consumer demand for beef is on fire. That's what happens in a strong economy.
Given all this, South Dakotans are being asked to upend the political status quo in D.C. by sending Rounds to the Senate? My goodness gracious, every Republican worth his investment portfolio's salt should consider the implications. I remember once voting for Bill Clinton, in '96, because the stock market and the economy were roaring, even as the political class was in a state of collective angst over "gridlock." I remember thinking, heck, bring on the gridlock--and don't stop. Far as I'm concerned, a divided government is the closest thing to a laissez-faire environment we can get in this day and age.
Rounds needs to make a case that his election to the Senate and a potential GOP takeover of that body will improve economic conditions generally and personal investment returns specifically. On that platform, the champion of "South Dakota Common Sense" will have a tough time trying to top the status quo.