Friday, February 3, 2017

I Don't Think Democracy Died In South Dakota Yesterday, But It Sure Took A Severe Beating

Nice Thought
Does It Still Apply?
    South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard has found his place in the state's history.  He'll go down as the chief exec who led a revolt by the government against its own people.  The surreality of
it notwithstanding, that's exactly what happened yesterday when Daugaard signed a bill (House Bill 1069) into law, essentially invalidating an Initiated Measure (IM 22) that South Dakota's voters passed last November.  The measure was a drastic reform of campaign and governing procedures in the state that was widely discussed and debated for months before the election.  Overall it was a draconian overhaul of the status quo, limiting lobbying expenditures, creating an ethics commission and putting a public financing of campaigns component into state election procedures.  That last bit caused me to vote against the measure, but nearly 52% of voters believed that it was a good thing, so the measure carried.
     The reaction in Pierre was reflexive and dismissive.  Of course you'd expect an entrenched political class to react in horror to a change as sweeping as IM22.  But what caught naive observers (like me, I guess) off guard was the utter rejection and dismissal of the state's official claim to be the place where "under God the people rule."  Apparently that ethos doesn't mean much, and I certainly suggest that the Governor and the legislature expunge it from all official South Dakota insignia, lest we become even more of a laughingstock in the national conversation about this event.  South Dakota, the first state to adopt statewide initiatives and referendums (in 1898), has a historic commitment to its belief that the people rule.  It took nearly 120 years for that resplendent imperative to get wiped out. Trickle-up democracy just got swamped by an avalanche of official contempt for the voice of the people.
     Supposedly, the next step from South Dakota's governing class is to prepare and pass a set
So Says The Center For
Public Integrity
of reforms that they believe are more consistent with what the voters have in mind.
Daugaard says that "he and the legislators will work to honor the will of the voters." I wasn't aware that divining what voters are thinking is part of the Governor's job description, but given the collective arrogance of this enterprise, I'm not surprised to hear that he and his supporters actually believe that voters were thinking one way and voting another.  Considering that the reforms Daugaard must have in mind will apply to those who are affected by them, I'd have to say that Daugaard's intent may be good, but the follow-through will be a waste of time.  I'm looking forward to doing a point-by-point analysis of the reforms that come from a political cast of characters who reject the notion that in South Dakota, the people rule.  Prove me wrong, South Dakota pols.  

8 comments:

  1. John, The most republican, Republican, Stace Nelson even tried to convince the Senate that they were/are making a mistake. I like you did not like the campaign finance portion of the Initiated Measure 22, but I voted for it anyway because of the extreme need for more honesty and openness in our State Government. Senator Nelson however did not like the initiated measure overall, but as usual continued to show his principles, by opposing the HB1069 to overturn it, because it is not the legislature's job to rule on the constitutionality of the measure. Additionally, it makes the state of South Dakota look small and corrupt. Oh that's right in spite of the legislators' protestations to the contrary during the debate on the bill, it is corrupt.

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    1. For the record, Nelson and Lance Russell were the only two Pubs to vote against the bill in the Senate.

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  2. I find myself torn betwixt two aphorisms: "The world delivers its messages in manners subtle or, if required, cruel and blunt, so that the thickest of subjects comprehend. Failing that, they die. For the smart ones, of course, incomprehension is inexcusable." (Steven Erickson) "The wise learn more from their enemies, than fools from their friends." (Baltsar Gracin y Morales)

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  3. Thanks John, again, for such good, cogent thinking and blogging! And, coming from one of the few admirable Repubs in this state at this time makes it even more special. I don't hold lot o respect for the 2 R's that voted against it-other than their willingness to stand up against their peers in the legislature and 'call them out' for their votes. The overturning of the people's vote was hurried purposely to get it done before the Supreme Court could rule on it for the people! Notice? The time to "listen to the people's will" is over when the people vote, governor!

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  4. When the AG has a warning, right on the ballot, that the measure is unconstitutional and will go down in court ("if approved, the measure may be challenged in court on constitutional grounds" is how he put it) and the voters are so lacking in intelligence that they vote for it anyway, all they proved is that South Dakotans are too stupid to be allowed to have ballot measures and the whole practice needs to stop.

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    1. Representative Beal, Referring back to Bill Clinton's metaphor (the definition of is, is), which those of you on the extreme right like to throw dirt on, may be challenged is not will be challenged or is being challenged. You are wrong and just not a big enough man to admit it. I guess that's what comes from living a life of privilege.

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  5. What an "alternate universe" you live in abeal49!! You must have voted for Trump--whose spokespeople believe in "alternate facts".

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  6. I shall warrant this legislative session is proof of the pudding when it comes to term limits. That circumstance is clearly a bad idea in a state where emigrants outpace immigrants. It's comforting to know that Mr. Epp is in accord, but we're still in world of hurt and no relief is forthcoming.

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