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Shields Out; Primary Challenge Could Weaken Dem Attacks on Noem Tea Flavor

Rep. Kristi Noem's electoral stock may be ticking up, just slightly.

Joshua Shields is stepping down as Noem's spokesman to go work for Black Hills Corporation. He was never very good at the job (see also here)... but then again, Noem doesn't give great material to work with.

His temporary replacement, Noem staffer Jordan Stoick, makes this clever observation:

Stoick said Noem wants tea party support but resists efforts to label her a tea party candidate, although the South Dakota Democrats are working hard to do just that.

He said it may be an advantage for Strong to run to the right of Noem. Stoick said that helps place her closer to the middle of the Republican spectrum [Tom Lawrence, "The Smart Young Guys Behind the Political Scenes," Republic Insider, 2012.02.22].

Dang: maybe I shouldn't be so excited about the purported primary challenges Noem faces. Stephanie Strong, with her all-caps shouting of vague Tea Party tropes (oh, but she does want to repeal the Patriot Act!) and links to Wall Builders and Rick Green will only make Noem look more like the centrist she needs to be to win Indies in November. (Stephanie, don't link to outside profiteers on your campaign website. Write up your own content!)


  1. Taunia 2012.02.23

    You do well speaking in public.

    And there's a job opening.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.02.23

    Taunia, I despise Kristi Noem's politics. I could still put my debate coach hat on and craft better messages for her than Shields did.

  3. David Newquist 2012.02.23

    Throughout the Herseth Sandlin-Noem campaign, those of us involved could only shake our heads at the performances that Noem put on in the name of debate. Like John Thune she could recite quips and repeat party-line nonsense, but we learned from the Thune-Daschle campaign that it works in South Dakota. The ultimate issue is the voters--voters who are the products of inferior educations. They know nothing of the premise of genuine rhetoric nor do they recognize the oldest, most brazen propaganda ploys which at one time would have incited ridicule, not votes. And after 20 of those confrontations in the Republican primary season that the wildest writers at SNL would not dare contrive, we have learned that South Dakota is not the only place suffering from a massive intellectual failure. This is what the discussion on improving education should be about. Keeping that electorate out there gullible and docile is the political premise of the Governor's plan, although he is among those who apparently doesn't know it.

    Educators should not abandon their profession for politics when real education is so sorely needed. It is time for sincere educators to think about doing their real work in venues that are beyond the reach of political contamination--much as we did during the civil rights and Viet Nam eras, and at least keep genuine learning going some place. This old war horse finds himself restlessly pawing in his stall again.

  4. Elliot Knuths 2012.02.23

    Criticizing voters... Does dictatorship sound better? You can get rid of voting if you want, or you can stuff the boxes to ensure voters make "more educated" choices. Any attacks against the will of a society are direct attacks against the society.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.02.24

    Elliot, Dr. Newquist suggests neither of the false options you offer.

  6. Elliot Knuths 2012.02.24

    The suggestion that voters aren't intelligent enough to make proper choices is one that has lead to many dictatorships, if history has any impact on this discussion. Claiming voters "know nothing" and suffer from a "massive intellectual failure" undermines republicanism. This perspective suggests that a group of citizens lacks the merit to make self-governance decisions, which in turn suggests a form of government exhibiting minimal autonomy. In fact, anyone for liberty, be it Chomsky or Friedman, agrees that the common man has sufficient intellectual ability to make social, political, and economic choices (Friedman through the free market, Chomsky through an autonomous collective.)

  7. John Hess 2012.02.24

    Sounds nice Elliot, but it's time to watch Jersey Shore.

  8. Elliot Knuths 2012.02.24

    Wouldn't you act like an idiot for $30,000 per episode, Mr. Hess?

  9. David Newquist 2012.02.24

    My comments were not about the native intelligence of voters, but how education has failed them. History teaches us that the most repressive and violent dictatorships, as in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, were not established by criticizing voters but by manipulating and nurturing their prejudices and ignorance and creating alliances with them. Kristal Nacht did result from the people being told how dumb they were.

    Like Orwell and Chomsky, I point to the vulnerability of people who do not distinguish between false propaganda and the pervasive force of the media in conditioning the unwary to accept it as reality. Chomsky said in "Class Warfare" that "propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state" and about America that "The intellectual tradition is one of servility to power, and if I didn't betray it I'd be ashamed of myself."

    He allies himself with the earliest critics of American culture and democracy in noting what mass education was designed to do:

    “Mass education was designed to turn independent farmers into docile, passive tools of production. That was its primary purpose. And don’t think people didn’t know it. They knew it and they fought against it. There was a lot of resistance to mass education for exactly that reason. It was also understood by the elites. Emerson once said something about how we’re educating them to keep them from our throats. If you don’t educate them, what we call “education,” they’re going to take control — “they” being what Alexander Hamilton called the “great beast,” namely the people. The anti-democratic thrust of opinion in what are called democratic societies is really ferocious. And for good reason. Because the freer the society gets, the more dangerous the great beast becomes and the more you have to be careful to cage it somehow.”

    Some people are against the liberty and freedom of others, and they act upon agendas set for them. Chomsky and Friedman remark on the inherent disposition of people to seek freedom for themselves, but they do not excuse them from their culpability. Chomsky: "If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, there are opportunities to change things, there’s a chance you may contribute to making a better world. The choice is yours.”

    Voters ultimately get what the majority votes for.

  10. David Newquist 2012.02.24

    Sentence should read: Kristal Nacht did NOT result from people being told how dumb they were.

  11. Elliot Knuths 2012.02.24

    I had a whole rebuttal lined up, then I realized this would be more fun:

    You have confirmed Godwin's Law, Dr. Newquist, which states that, "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."

    The law goes on to say that the person who has referenced Hitler has lost his argument, and discussion can be finished.

    Now that the debate is over, I'll be taking a little time off... Take care everyone!

  12. Bill Fleming 2012.02.24

    The exceptions to Godwin's law are contexts in which the reference to totalitarianism is entirely appropriate, which, in this case, Dr. Newquist's are.

    Don't be so stupid as to disallow all reference to the Nazi atrocities, Elliot.

    That's what the Holocaust deniers do.

  13. David Newquist 2012.02.24

    Again, you resort to misrepresentation as the pretext for a petty dismissal. Godwin's law refers specifically to comparing a current figure to Hitler. I specifically made reference to the social conditions that made Hitler and Stalin possible. At a time when the people of Europe are undergoing a vigorous historical examination of civilian and military collaborators and resistors, those episodes are relevant, perhaps inescapable, points of reference. Godwin is right about the Internet as a medium of exchange of self-righteous delusion. The debate never really began.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.02.25

    We must be able to discern apt from inapt invocations of Hitler. Discussions of Hitler and Stalin can provide useful historical context.

    To be clear, Elliot, I acknowledge that the general will, like individual will, can make bad decisions. A plurality of South Dakotans in 2010 made the mistake of electing an inferior candidate to the U.S. House. But the only entity with authority to overturn that decision is the 2012 electorate, whom I hope to educate but never disenfranchise.

    Republicans might say the same thing about the pending referral of last year's corporate welfare bill. Afraid that the general electorate will make the wrong decision, Republicans are now using legislative tricks to protect what they consider wise policy from a misinformed electorate.

    The Republican leadership in Pierre finds Rep. Stace Nelson much more annoying than I do. They feel the voters of District 25 made a mistake in sending him to represent them in Pierre. They could use their power in Pierre to engineer a vote to expel Rep. Nelson and overturn the will of misinformed voters.

    In all three examples, I respect the will of the voters over other values.

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