KELO radio talker Greg Belfrage caught heck from some Republicans for endorsing Democrat Mike Huether for re-election as mayor of Sioux Falls. (Huether won yesterday, 55% to 45%, over Republican Greg Jamison.)
Now in response to yesterday's election results, Belfrage is sounding like an outright socialist:
Sioux Falls is a growing community. People realize that facilities and large commercial developments need to go someplace. They can't all be relegated to the rural outskirts of town.
There seems to be an understanding that sometimes things may not be best for us individually, but they're best for the community [Greg Belfrage, "City Election Had No Big Surprises, But Loud Message," KELO-AM: The Daily Dose, 2014.04.09].
Seriously, in an earlier post, Belfrage enunciates a profoundly important point about how party labels don't matter at the local level:
As I read through the comments of those criticizing me (Republican) for supporting Huether (Democrat), I couldn't find a single reason for their scorn other than party label. Not a single person has yet to articulate to me how Huether's liberal political ideology has negatively affected Sioux Falls.
...This is precisely why Sioux Falls has tried to keep city races non-partisan. Because for some... all thought processes stop when they hear the word "Democrat" or "Republican" [Greg Belfrage, "My Huether Endorsement Draws Blistering Criticism," KELO-AM: The Daily Dose, 2014.04.07].
We hear that stoppage of thought processes all the time when we hear the media trying to boil important and complicated policy issues into thin political soup.
Belfrage goes on to admit that his conservative ideology doesn't translate to the local level:
Admittedly, you may not find me to be very conservative when it comes to local government. I often support large public projects that I feel will benefit the community, such as the Denny Sanford Premier Center. I'malso in favor of spending money on conveniences like snow gates, which I feel will improve the general quality of life during winter, especially for seniors and the disabled [Belfrage, 2014.04.07].
I've seen this disjunction before between national-level political squawking and local community improvement: when we need to pay teachers, pave streets, and put out fires, all the hollering about socialism and Obama and liberal-foisted dependency doesn't amount to a hill of beans. We just want our city councils and school boards to get stuff done. We work together through those governments to fix problems.
Belfrage defends his federal conservatism/local liberalism (that is what it is, isn't it, Greg?) dichotomy by saying we citizens can better hold our local governments to account than we can the federal government.
Is Belfrage's fine distinction really all conservatives and liberals have been arguing about? Belfrage seems to be saying, "Government is not inherently bad. At the local level, vigorous government is good! Liberalism is really a good model for managing a community; it's just tougher to ensure liberalism works in larger communities, like nations." Is liberalism superior philosophically, requiring only the practical check of conservatism at scale?
So if we could come up with a means to promote more transparency and accountability in federal government, if we could keep special interests from co-opting the federal government with big money (McCutcheon, Ravnsborg! McCutcheon!) and empower regular citizens to exert control over their federal government similar to what they can exert over the Sioux Falls City Council and the Madison Central School Board, would we agree that we should go with liberalism instead of conservatism as our primary governing philosophy?