|Can SD Dems Go|
From This . . .
Hawks was engaging in a public post-mortem over the bi-annual pummeling that SD Democrats had just endured. She told the A-L that "I think what we've seen in the last year is that what we're doing isn't working. We do need a shake-up." The gist of the piece is that Hawks's view reflects the state party's internal disagreement over how many of its woes should be blamed on its current leadership. As a Republican who wishes we had a more vigorous two-party climate in South Dakota government, I find myself cheering a lot for Dems that I admire, and I put Paula Hawks in the top tier of that list. But on this issue of leadership I think Hawks is missing the underlying point. Dems in South Dakota need to re-evaluate their basic assumptions, and they need to do it on three fronts.
First they have to settle on an identity. Yes, they can be the agents of social change (and I'm with them on just about every aspect of that), but they simply must understand that their essential persona has always sprung from the roots of economic justice. Remember "it's the economy, stupid?"
Next they need to tailor a coherent, statewide message that reflects that party identity. Yes,
You Bet Your Whatever
Finally, they must find the means to get their message across. I've met Co-Party Chairs Ann Tornberg and Joe Lowe and can attest to their abilities and commitments. They accomplish a lot without the mother's milk of politics--money. Fund raising should be a top priority, beginning now. South Dakota has 170 thousand registered Democrats. That's a pretty sizable pool of potential donations.
Even though money is tight, there's no shortage of ideas and issues that SD Dems can put to work. Once they resolve their identity crisis a lot of other things will fall into place.