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Noem Disappoints Libertarians; Can Democrats Make Their Case for Liberty?

Rep. Kristi Noem's vote and mealy-mouthed excuses for the surveillance state gall me. They also gall Libertarian blogger Ken Santema, who declares Noem "a true enemy of liberty" and calls for her replacement:

Hopefully in the coming months we can find one or more candidates to run against Noem. It is unclear if that will be an R, D, L or I. No matter which way it goes I know one thing: many of us will not vote for Noem from this point on. Even if Noem wins again it will not be a “free pass” like Thune got his last election. Many of us are willing to work to keep Noem and her anti-liberty colleagues out of DC [Ken Santema, "Kristi Noem Has Voted Against Civil Liberties, It Is Time to Find Her Replacement," SoDakLiberty, 2013.07.26].

I would like to believe there's an opening here for Democrats to reach out to disenchanted voters like Santema. Remember, former Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio offered vocal opposition to the Patriot Act from its inception, often sounding like Libertarian favorite Ron Paul.

Santema worries that handing the House back to the Democrats while Democrat Barack Obama holds the White House poses its own threat to liberty. And he's sensitive enough to threats to liberty that he brands Rick Weiland "must-defeat" just because Weiland wants to take big corporate money out of elections.

But a smart South Dakota Democrat could overcome such objections. South Dakota Democrats are used to assuring people they won't be rubber stamps for a Democratic President or even a Democratic Speaker. We can show a little healthy independence but still not run from our brand. We can do well among our Libertarian friends by standing on our principles and explain how the Democratic platform really is better for liberty than the fearful machinations of Kristi Noem and the big-money GOP mainstream.

So, Dems, who'd like to run against Kristi and give Libertarians like Ken a defender of liberty to vote for?


  1. interested party 2013.07.27

    Don't kid yourself, Cory: Santema won't vote for any Democrat as long as there is a black President

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.27

    I'm willing to assume Ken is better than that and that we might offer him an alternative to business as usual with Kristi and Mike. I think we can also make the case that even if he is worried that a Democrat Congressperson would vote for the President's agenda more often that Kristi Noem, he can still get more liberty from a sincere Democrat than from a false, unprincipled Republican like Noem.

  3. Ken Santema 2013.07.27

    I actually agree with your statement Cory: "can still get more liberty from a sincere Democrat than from a false, unprincipled Republican like Noem." I would actually prefer a principled candidate that will be honest and vote how they promise than someone that will simply be a party tool (that is why I couldn't vote for Noem this last election, I did end up voting Varelik).

    I think there is a chance for Dem now, at least more than there was a week ago. So far I have heard from one person that is considering a run as an Independent. I don't know enough about that person to know if they would stand a chance. But I know Noem's vote has pissed a lot of people off. Maybe we will see the House seat flip to D in South Dakota if the Dems can find a candidate.

    Cory summed up a great path for the Dems to take if they really want the House (or the Senate):

    "But a smart South Dakota Democrat could overcome such objections. South Dakota Democrats are used to assuring people they won't be rubber stamps for a Democratic President or even a Democratic Speaker."

    I would think a South Dakota Democrat that will work for the people of South Dakota (instead of Pelosi) should be able to beat a South Dakota Republican that has actually proven to work for Boehner instead of the people of South Dakota.

  4. interested party 2013.07.27

    We have yet to hear Brendan Johnson speak much about his political leanings but we can surmise pretty quickly that his libertarian bent is in the closet. It would be very surprising that he didn't cringe over the stupid gun march.

    Firearms ownership and cannabis rights are mutually exclusive: until Mr. Santema can convince anyone that libertarians are working to reverse that he is just another corporatist looking for a government contract.

  5. Ken Santema 2013.07.27

    I'm not sure where you are going with the "Firearms ownership and cannabis rights are mutually exclusive". I see both as civil liberties issues, however not necessarily related.

    But I would put the War on Drugs and Gun Violence in the same conversation. If the Democrats and Republicans in DC really wanted to reduce gun violence they would end drug prohibition and the war on drugs. The black market surrounding drug trafficking is the primary cause of gun violence. As far as I know libertarians are the only group of people that have consistently fought against drug prohibition as a civil rights issue. The government has no place restricting a product that citizens want and utilize; that is especially true for people with chronic pain that are helped by the use of cannabis.

    And as far as a libertarian looking for a government contract? I think you have a deep misunderstanding of what a libertarian is? (I can't blame you though, the media and certain libertarians have provided misguided descriptions of true libertarianism).

  6. interested party 2013.07.28

    Everyone knows that South Dakota is ethically bankrupt.

    Second Amendment an absolute? Think again.

    The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATFE) will make sure you lose your Second Amendment rights if you admit to it. From Brian Doherty's piece at Reason:

    "Merely having a state medical marijuana card, BATFE insists, means that you fall afoul of Sect. 922(g) of the federal criminal code (from the 1968 federal Gun Control Act), which says that anyone “who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” is basically barred from possessing or receiving guns or ammo (with the bogus assertion that such possession implicates interstate commerce, which courts will pretty much always claim it does). While the BATFE has not yet announced any concerted program to go after people who may have had legally purchased weapons before getting a marijuana card, Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project says that it’s common practice in medical marijuana-related busts that “if weapons are present, there will be gun charges added on as well.”"

    The federal laws that restrict gun ownership were passed to deny people of color access to firearms just as the federal law that makes cannabis illegal does. Possession of crack cocaine has been recently leveled to mirror racial equality.

    US Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) are bringing a proposal [pdf] to create the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms according to story published in the Denver Post. Gene Johnson of the AP writes:

    "The bill is based on a legalization measure previously pushed by former Reps. Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Ron Paul of Texas. Blumenauer and Polis are due to release a paper this week urging Congress to make a number of changes, including altering tax codes to let marijuana dispensaries deduct business expenses on federal taxes, and making it easier for marijuana-related businesses to get bank accounts."

    Democrats: don't let Rand Paul define cannabis rights. Lead or lose.

  7. Ken Santema 2013.07.28

    I didn't catch that one from Doherty. It doesn't surprise me though. The Justice Department under the current President has stepped up enforcement, especially in states like CA that have dispensaries. Bringing the ATF into this will make situations worse.

    I agree with you, Democrats should lead this issue! But they wont' as long as Obama is in office. He has allowed the Justice Department to multiply their efforts at enforcement (against his campaign promise). Some of the Democrat politicians that showed promise for removing the status of marijuana as a controlled substance during the Bush years have dropped the issue so they don't appear to be against the Obama Administration.

    As to Rand, he is not libertarian. He has many policy stances that libertarians support him on, I would call him more libertarian-leaning. But he also has many stances that show he is is not libertarian. It is up to each person to decide which policy they agree or disagree with him on. That should be true of elected officials in all parties. Politicians should never get full support just because they are "on your side".

    And yes, if a Democrat platformed on the issue of ending the drug war they probably would get a lot of libertarian support. I'm not sure if that would be enough to win an election in South Dakota though. Too many people in SD vote R without even looking at the names (much less the issues).

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.28

    Ken, Larry, can a candidate from either party gain more votes than he/she loses by advocating ending the drug war/legalizing drugs?

    Ken, is there any difference in liberty results for South Dakotans between a Democrat who works for Pelosi and a Republican who works for Boehner?

  9. Ken Santema 2013.07.28

    In some other states I think either party could gain votes by advocating ending the drug war... I don't have that faith in South Dakota though.

    I think a D or R that would show they are willing work against Pelosi and Boehner on important issue would get a liberty vote from most libertarians or related groups. I think it would also be a good issue for independents in South Dakota. Especially people who see how racially driven the war on drugs is against Indian residents.

    I don't say that for the Tea Party though. The Tea Party is not a concentrated group like many think it is. I think major portions of the Tea Party would actually be opposed to a candidate that tries to get rid of the war on drugs. That is why I ally with TP groups on certain issues, but keep a wary eye for what else they intend to do.

  10. interested party 2013.07.28

    A former US Attorney running for governor or Congress would certainly have credibility on the issue, for sure.

  11. Ken Santema 2013.07.28

    I agree, Brendan Johnson would be great if he platformed against the war on drugs. I would probably even try to help him get elected if that were the case.

  12. interested party 2013.07.28

    He and Marty Jacklow are best friends: it seems unlikely that they would want to go toe-to-toe since we know it would be political suicide for Marty.

  13. mike 2013.07.28

    Voting for Varilek over Noem must have been a protest vote against Noem more than a pro Varilek vote. No way you thought he would win and it also shows that someone like Ken is not a NEW anti Noem voter. She won without Ken last time so how many more people are there that this issue will peal away who haven't already abandoned her?

    The only way Noem loses in 2014 is if she is challenged by a serious candidate and the Dems only have one person who is serious. Brendan Johnson could run against Noem and give her a serious run but I believe he also needs a third party candidate much like his dad did to defeat Thune in 2002. Libertarian issues are hot right now with conservatives and if a strong, exciting young libertarian candidate were to get in a race against Noem and be able to perform well in the debates (that is where they will get exposure) Noem could lose 3-8% of the right wing vote. Giving Brendan Johnson the chance to win without needing to find a majority.

    This vote is exactly the kind of vote that drives a decent showing from a third party candidates. Noem is wrong on debt increases, NSA, NDAA, Sequestration and a whole host of other liberty minded issues.

    Noem has shown herself to be nothing more than an advocate for big ag (which she fails at) and pine beetle control. She makes it really hard for anyone to be excited about her on the issues.

  14. Ken Santema 2013.07.28

    Maybe your looking at the wrong approach Cory. The SDDP would probably waste resources trying to go after the liberty vote. I think a better route would be to keep this issue alive so a certain number of people remember they won't vote Noem. If they can get a good GOTV turnout in a midterm election the SDDP can take advantage of disenfranchised R voters, especially if Rounds wins the Senate R primary.

  15. mike 2013.07.28

    I'd like to see Ken's 5 potential candidates for a third party run. Lance Russell? Dan Kaiser? Elizabeth May?

    Who are the liberty minded options in SD for a potential libertarian/3rd party candidacy against Noem that Ken has in mind? They don't have to be elected officials.

    I would also suggest running as an independent instead of a libertarian. More people will vote and are registered independent.

  16. Ken Santema 2013.07.28

    Agreed Mike, people like me have never been for Noem. But the disenfranchised Tea Party voters did support her. A third party would potentially help a Brendon. The real question is whether the SDDP can come up with a plan to take advantage of the situation.

  17. interested party 2013.07.28

    Newland for Congress.

  18. Ken Santema 2013.07.28

    I really have nobody in mind. Honestly I hate this part of politics. I much prefer holding politicians accountable than dealing in the election process. The one person I would like to run is not involved in politics and likely won't be (so I'll be nice and withhold his name.)

  19. mike 2013.07.28

    Ken I appreciate your view point. Government is out of control and Kristi doesn't get that. Someone needs to hold her accountable and the only way that is done is through elections. Elections have consequences. So do votes for elected officials.

    You are an articulate and honest guy. The question you should be asking yourself is how do you increase your influence and get Kristi's attention.

    Kristi has served conservatives and libertarians an issue on a silver platter. The NSA spying situation is one that bridges the partisan divide in DC and resonates with voters all across this state. This doesn't just resonate to a few libertarians. Everyone gets this issue.

    I would bet money on the fact that most people in the libertarian movement are reluctant politicians. Heck most people in elected office have been encouraged to take a leap they were uncomfortable with at the time they made it.

    I'm here to tell you that if you don't direct your frustration towards finding a candidate you will not see a candidate come to fruition organically. You need to make a list and push people to do it. The conversation needs to begin and a blog post of potential liberty minded candidates would only increase their profile and your push for this vote to have consequences.

    You and your friends who care are the catalyst in this situation. You can increase the intensity of the fire. Without consequences she won't change her course of action by a few complaints on Facebook.

  20. interested party 2013.07.28

    Johnson can defer right now because as a likely beneficiary of South Dakota First he has the luxury of not having to raise as much money as another candidate might: if anything must be maddening for someone waiting for him to poop or get off the pot.

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