Last updated on 2016.09.25
The South Dakota Democratic Party twists Pat Powers's knickers again with a hard attack postcard sent to District 3 to tie police officer Dan Kaiser to his support for Ron Paul's radical libertarian agenda.
Now Kaiser doesn't mind. In a July interview, he invited all comers to "feel free to drag me through the mud... bring it on."
But this card isn't mud; it is essentially true. Dan Kaiser calls himself an "avid Ron Paul supporter." Ron Paul avidly if impotently supports legalizing drugs. Ron Paul was weaselly on Social Security during the 2012 primary, but he has said Social Security is unconstitutional, has compared it to slavery, and that he'd like to get rid of it. Ron Paul would eliminate farm subsidies. It is hard to imagine Dan Kaiser being an "avid" Ron Paul supporter and not aligning with Ron Paul's positions on these significant issues.
Incredibly, Powers manages to raise a larger issue: does the South Dakota Democratic Party misfire by attacking Kaiser (and Rep. Jon Hansen, according to a DWC commenter) on national policies that won't be much in his bailiwick as a state legislator? I agree that the Dems' attack on Kaiser smells of the same irrelevancy that I've heard from folks like Gordon Howie and Jason Bjorklund who campaign for state office on Tea-Party karaoke that has little to do with immediate practical policymaking.
However, Dan Kaiser appears to be using his candidacy for State House to promote himself and his pursuit of Ron Paul's national agenda. Listen to Kaiser holding forth in this July video interview with national "Paul Fest" organizer Mat Larson (starting at 32:30):
[Editor's note: this video went inactive shortly after my publication of this post. Come on, Libertarians! Cowboy up!]
Kaiser says he is running to promote the "cause of liberty" and "revolution" to "take this country back from a state level all the way up." He says he is seeking to get his name more visible in party and statewide, with an eye toward other races.
Interestingly, the next office most clearly in his sights is not national but local: when a caller tells him to run for sheriff so that he wouldn't have to answer to anything but his personal interpretation of the constitution, Kaiser says he'll consider it in two years when the current Brown County sheriff's term is up. Kaiser says a State House position could get him the name recognition to easily win sheriff's race.
Kaiser sees himself as promoting Ron Paul's national agenda even now in uniform as an Aberdeen police officer. He does so in a careful dance between his strict libertarian principles and the need to keep his job... which Officer Kaiser himself calls "hypocrisy." He speaks with apparent regret of busting a drug house. "If I happen to come across an illegal drug... I'm going to do my job to require me getting a paycheck." Kaiser "would challenge anybody to find any record that says I've ever wrote... a seat belt ticket." The video host says Kaiser won't be out as a "Nazi cop" there enforcing local laws, and Kaiser doesn't disagree.
Apparently Officer Kaiser thinks his role is not merely to enforce the laws the people have chosen, but to decide which laws are worth enforcing. And his commitment to enforcing some laws appears to be no deeper than his selfish commitment to keeping his paycheck.
Kaiser shows his Ron Paul stripes clearly with his language on guns. He says the Second Amendment is not about self-defense or hunting. He says the Second Amendment isn't about going to shoot deer with a government-approved license. He says the right to bear arms is about having the ability to overthrow the government if it becomes too tyrannical "To clarify," Kaiser adds, "I'm not advocating that right now."
Kaiser refers to "garbage" from Mitt Romney about assault weapons having no place in our communities. He declares Romney an "idiot." Kaiser says he is "an avid carrier myself" and believes that "everyone should carry." Everyone.
Instead of defending Kaiser, Powers should be going ape over Kaiser's Republican apostasy. Relevant to drug policy, Kaiser says, "I don't want the government telling what I can and can't put in my body." That sounds like a direct endorsement of drug legalization.
Kaiser also says "I don't want the government telling me whom I can and can't marry... if it doesn't affect me, I don't care." That sounds like a rejection of the GOP's insistence on denying homosexuals the right to marry.
In a move that might endear him to some Republicans, Kaiser sounds inclined to skirt campaign finance laws. A caller urges him to send a note to a Ron Paulite PAC. The caller notes that Kaiser can't coordinate with the PAC after that first call. Kaiser says he'll do that. That sounds like a sleazy wink-wink dodge of our already too-weak campaign finance laws.
Kaiser also drops the big Ron Paul nullification bomb. He says we "need to get liberty-minded folks across the state to understand such things as nullification, just so we can kind of flex our states rights under the tenth amendment." Like his fellow Ron Paulite Rep. Hansen, Kaiser embraces the idea of ignoring the laws we don't like. That attitude should disqualify a policeman. It should also disqualify a legislator.
And just to send the GOP a signal that they shouldn't mind the Dems' attack, Kaiser makes clear he'll be the next Stace Nelson. On Pierre and politics, he says, "I have no ambition of going there and making friends. I want to go there and butt heads with some of them... we might need a cop in there because there are a lot of criminals in state legislature right now. I want to go there and clean house...." Later in the video, the first legislator that springs to mind as worthy of his and Ron Paulites' endorsement is Rep. Stace Nelson, as well as conservative radicals Isaac Latterell, Manny Steele, Lance Russell, and Brian Liss. Kaiser dismisses all of his potential Senate counterparts: he says "we've got no hope" in the Senate and "can't think of any Senators that are real staunch liberty folks."
Ron Paul's policy positions may not all be relevant to state legislative policymaking. But Dan Kaiser's embrace of Ron Paul's nullificationism appears to cause him to ignore his sworn oath to uphold the law, not just the laws that he prefers. In this regard, pointing out Kaiser's allegiance to a national ideologue and agenda are perfectly relevant to District 3's evaluation of his fitness to hold public office.