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Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 12:43 PM PDT

In the Just Reward of Labor

by Anna Madsen

What do ELCA Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, and UCC-ers have in common?

Statements on their denominational books in support of raising the minimum wage.


The ELCA, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, and UCC might not all be on the same theological page (some are even a few awfully long chapters apart) but on this issue (and, frankly, many others close to the hearts of Progressives) they are virtually word-for-word, line-for-line in unison.  

Throw in some Quaker, Christian Reformed, and Jewish voices, and you get this pan-religious letter written to members of Congress just over a year ago, a letter which makes this case about the minimum wage: “Our common scriptures present a vision of shared responsibility, commanding that we care for the vulnerable among us and also endows the notion of work with an inherent dignity.”

Today is Labor Day, a day when we are mindful of those who work, of those who contribute to the well-being of this nation through their dedication to a job well done.  

This particular Labor Day is celebrated as five states (SD, NE, IL, AK, AR) fight to raise the minimum wage (some more minimally than others, but still, above what it has been).  

Class-generated fear-mongering about the effect on "job creators" is in full-swing.

In fact, however, these laborers--adults, 53% of whom work full time, 56% of whom are women--would increase their personal spending, reduce dependence on hitherto-necessary social programs such as SNAP, and reduce the costs of high-staff-turnover because of an increase in job loyalty.

It’s worth asking ourselves whether we mean what we say on this day.  Are we really honoring our laborers when we, mouths stuffed with Labor Day BBQs and beer, chat about how laughable the movements are to give these same laborers a living wage?

Fred Pratt Green wondered similar sorts of things.  

Pratt wrote For the Fruits of All Creation, a harvest hymn with words that lilt like the tune. The verse I have in mind today, though, is this one:

In the just reward of labour
God's will is done
In the help we give our neighbour
God's will is done
In our world-wide task of caring
For the hungry and despairing
In the harvests we are sharing
God's will is done.
Pratt wrote his hymns to speak to the intersecting point of faith and life.  

How much, he wondered, are we willing to act and not just pray/preach/sing about our faith?

“Well," people often say, "it was fine for Jesus, but it doesn’t work in real life.”

It’s typically said about, say, helping the poor, forgiving enemies, turning the other cheek, welcoming the stranger, healing the sick...and paying laborers their just due.

It’s a line that befuddles me.  

What is the point of believing in something if you don’t, well, believe in it?

Turns out, though, that our mainline denominations do believe, in theory and in practice.

Turns out that our mainline denominations are on the front lines, believing, praying, preaching, singing about our labor, and our laborers.

For they know that Pratt got it right:

In the just reward of labour
God's will is done
In the help we give our neighbour
God's will is done
In our world-wide task of caring
For the hungry and despairing
In the harvests we are sharing
God's will is done.
As a moral and civil duty on this Labor Day, and in honor of this Labor Day, and out of deep respect for our laborers, voters in SD, NE, IL, AK, and AR ought to commit to vote for their respective state’s ballot measures to raise minimum wage.

Voters who are also people of faith in SD, NE, IL, AK, and AR have one more reason: through your vote on behalf of the laborers, God's will is done.


In the mid-fifties, British psychiatrist, pediatrician, and researcher Donald Winnicott (1896-1971) stirred up the world of family psychology by saying that parenting styles fall along two ends of a spectrum.  The endpoints of this line are marked by these poles: “authoritarian parenting” and “attachment parenting.”

“Authoritarian parenting” stresses the child’s unconditional conformity and obedience to the parent.  It’s all about parental control, followed by the child’s acquiescence to it.  Any sense of creative expression or challenge to the established norms is met with punishment.  As a consequence, the child develops what Winnicott named a “False Self,” an identity geared and conformed to the parents’ desires, all in order to avoid severe discipline.  The child’s own actual identity is forcibly suppressed, perhaps never to be discovered--even as the child grows into an adult.

At the other end, however, is “attachment parenting.”  In this model, the primary objective is not unconditional conformity but unconditional love.  The parent pays attention to the child’s personality and then encourages its growth, instead of repressing it, and instead of insisting that the child morph into the parent.  The kid becomes the kid, not the parents’ imposed version of the kid.

Imposed parental expectations rarely go well for anybody.

So here’s my point, DSCC.

You are clearly unhappy with South Dakota’s Democratic candidate for Senate, Rick Weiland.

Even as late as July 31, 2013, Michael Bennet, chair of the DSCC, said, “We expect to spend money in all of these states, but I think it is fair to say that both sides have work to do to make the respective races competitive. Right now we are actively recruiting in West Virginia, Montana, and South Dakota, and expect to have competitive candidates in each of these states.”

“Actively recruiting,” he says...even though our state already has Rick Weiland, a candidate with significant momentum behind him, Tom Daschle’s name behind him, and with no other candidates behind him, beside him, or in front of him.

Nevertheless, you are still meddling, manipulating, maneuvering, and mucking things up, all in hopes of getting the child to behave according to your “parental” will.

Now, make no mistake: Rick would welcome your financial support, not to mention your rhetorical support.  It would benefit him, and our state’s cause, immensely.

But he is not willing to become a “False Self” to do it, false either to his own internal integrity or to the integrity of what the South Dakota Democratic Party is becoming.

You are plainly doing your best to create the South Dakota Democratic State Party in your own image, threatening fierce punishment by withholding any financial support if the candidate not conform to the DSCC’s rigid expectations of what obedience demands.

In this case, you are again upholding precisely what cost us the last election, namely the philosophy that unless a South Dakota Democratic candidate does not mirror values that any self-respecting Republican would, we won’t win.  

Many South Dakota Democrats disagree with your obviously flawed strategy.  

Far more South Dakota Democrats disagree with you than you expected.

For some time now, South Dakota Democrats have felt an obligation, an understandable obligation, to do things the way that you, the DSCC, wanted them done.  

But those times are changing. We are already something other than you want us to be, despite your best efforts at clamping down.

What’s more, just as a young person may well have better insight into who he or she is than the parents do, it is clear that we here in SD understand ourselves better than you do.

WE know that Rick Weiland is the real deal.  WE know that he’s been putting feet to pavement all across the state.  WE know that he’s knowledgable and savvy and experienced.  WE know that he is beholden to principles rather than someone else’s pocketbook.  WE know that he believes what he says and says what he believes.  

WE know he’s a Democrat.  

A real Democrat, one who supports the Affordable Care Act, one who supports the minimum wage, one who supports voting rights and Indian rights and marriage equality, one who supports Medicare and a Medicaid expansion, and one who stands against Big Oil and Big Meat.

For starters.

That’s not a bad combination.

Meanwhile, our state’s Republicans are having a family feud of their own.  We now have four candidates for their primary, four people happily throwing mud and money at each other, and, frankly, shouting loudly enough back and forth so that we Democratic neighbors can hear.  

But we SD Dems have our house in order.  

We’ve got ourselves a candidate.  

And only one, in contrast to the Republicans.  

Rick Weiland.  

And he’s good.  

He’s good, regardless of whether you like him or not for who he is and who our party is.

Really is.  

Not who you want him to be.

Not who you want us to be.

But who Rick and we really are.

It’s not too late for the DSCC.

DSCC, let us be who we are.  

In return, we’ll give you a candidate who will win, and we’ll make you proud.


Thu May 23, 2013 at 12:16 PM PDT

Rick Weiland Seizes the Moment

by Anna Madsen

I have a long-standing affinity for heretics.  

When my daughter was only five, she heard me speaking about heretics, and not long after that, announced that she liked underdogs.  “Why?” I asked.  “For the same reason you like heretics, Mama. They’re interesting.”  

The word ‘heretic’ comes from the Greek wordhairesis,’ and means “a taking or a choosing, a choice.” The form haireisthai means more than a gentle decision, though: it means “to seize.”

A heretic is one who, by definition, is not orthodox, a word which comes from two Greek words meaning ‘straight’ or ‘correct’ (ortho-) and ‘opinion’ (doxa).  

In other words, heretics “take” their own opinions; they seize them, they hold fast to them, regardless of whether they square with those of the established Establishment.

That’s where heretics get in trouble with the orthodox.

Heretics, you see, are what they are and do what they do because they realize that the orthodox, the people who determine what is the “correct opinion,” are those who, for any number of reasons, have the power.  

Heretics provoke us to wonder whether orthodox power distorts orthodox opinions.  

Heretics have the chutzpah to seize moments, sometimes inconvenient moments, to challenge that orthodox power and those orthodox opinions.

Don’t for a moment, however, assume that heresy and orthodoxy clash only in religious systems.


Take a look at what is going down between Harry Reid’s powerful Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and South Dakota’s Rick Weiland campaign, and you’ll see the orthodox and the heretics having quite the row.

The DSCC does not like it, not one little bit, that Rick Weiland is the apparent South Dakota Democratic senatorial candidate.

Worse, Rick received full-throated support from former Senator Tom Daschle.  

Not only was Weiland’s entry into the race not blessed by the DSCC; they didn’t even know about it.  It happened like Archie Bunker baptizing his grandson in secret: the event happened without the powers that be knowing a thing about it.

But it happened.

When the DSCC found out, they weren’t happy--still aren’t.  

Anxious orthodox elites have a tendency to deal harshly with heretics and their supporters. Tactics range from intimidation to excommunication to (gulp) more.

But heretics have the audacity (from Latin, meaning “boldness,” or “courage”), like all good underdogs, to trust their instincts and their convictions, and they refuse to be deterred.

The powers that be, be they in the politicos in the DSCC, or be they the pundits in SD, are in fits of anger or of laughter that Rick Weiland would even step up to the plate.  

But they ought neither raise their voices too soon in howls nor in chuckles.  

Being a Democrat in a traditional Red state already means that we tend anyway to have affinity for the underdogs, and for the heretics.  

And, it should be of note, that we have a good record of underdogs who never lose sight of the underdogs: Tom Daschle.  Tim Johnson.  George McGovern.  

South Dakota Democrats have an inherent distrust of orthodoxy.

Orthodoxy says that one can only win in South Dakota if one runs as Republican lite.

That orthodoxy got us Kristi Noem.  

Orthodoxy says that with DSCC support, our candidate will win.

That orthodoxy got us Kristi Noem.

Orthodoxy says that South Dakota has been red, is red, and always will be red.

But the heretics know that we can see Minnesota from here.

I like heretics.  And I like Rick Weiland.  

He’s an underdog.  

And he’s interesting.  

And you can bet that this race will be too.  


Greek has a variety of words for ‘time,’ not least of all chronos and kairos.

Chronos is a period of time: a long time, a short time...clock time, if you will. It’s where we get the word ‘chronology.’  

Kairos, on the other hand, is “the perfect time.” Lexicographers have described the ancient Greek understanding of kairos as “a welcome time.”  It’s the time when something should happen, when something is supposed to happen.

Unfortunately, people often make choices on the basis of chronos time when they should make decisions on the basis of a kairos moment.

Think, for example, about people who get married because of logistics instead of love, or those who on impulse buy a house, because, well, they just like it.  

On the other hand, we found out the other day that Stephanie Herseth Sandlin chose not to run in the South Dakota Senate race. That was a big decision for her, both on the personal and the professional level, and one that she made according to both chronos and kairos understandings of time.

That’s how it ought to be, ideally, in life: events come to pass when it is both the right time and the right happening.  

It must be said that several years ago, when she was first elected, she and we here in South Dakota also had a confluence of chronos and kairos time. It was then the right time for Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

But now, a new welcome moment has come in South Dakota Democratic politics.  

After getting assurance that Brendan Johnson will not run, Rick Weiland has thrown his hat into the ring.

I bet he pitched it there after spending some time thinking about chronos and kairos, and apparently he decided that this is the moment when chronos and kairos coalesce.

He’s absolutely right.  

There is an election (chronos), and our party needs a candidate like Rick (kairos).

Rick Weiland is a savvy business man (not least of all seen in his family’s restaurant, Parker’s Bistro); was appointed to be the regional director for FEMA from 1997-2000; a position followed by his appointment as the director of the South Dakota chapter of the AARP (where he established a Bill of Rights including the protection of health care, Social Security, and long-term care); among other accomplishments while working with the International Code Council, he helped to develop the nations first code for green construction; and he was a former staffer for Sen. Tom Daschle, who, it must be noted, has come out with hearty support for his friend and former staffer.  

So here’s where the kairotic-moment part comes in:

This election isn’t only about Rick.  

It’s also about a movement--two movements, really.

The first movement is to strengthen the South Dakota Democrats as we clarify what it means to be a Democrat.

Now I recognize that there is a blue color spectrum within the Democratic community. Blue covers a wide range between green and violet.  

But that means too that we aren’t green, and we aren’t violet.

We’re blue.

In the same way, although I realize that donkeys come in a variety of breeds, it is safe to say that donkeys are not dogs.  

Particularly Blue Dogs.  

Here in South Dakota, the kairos and chronos time has come to figure out what a Blue Donkey looks like.  

Rick is up to that task.  

The second movement follows: once we focus on who we are, we confidently share that news with other South Dakotans.

The Democratic Platform has policies which benefit workers, seniors, farmers, women, children, people with disabilities, small business owners, and people who get sick.  

In short, we place our energy toward helping the vulnerable and the hard-working lower- and middle-classes, rather than protecting the already well-fortified aristocrats.

That should resonate here, where eyebrows get raised when stuffy suits and ties come walking into the corner cafe be-seated by folks with farmers' tans and well-worn blue jeans.

In his announcement letter, Rick said: “ our South Dakota native son, Hubert Humphrey, once said: ‘The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.’"


The time(s) have come.  

The kairos and the chronos times have come for Rick Weiland to run.  

He needs to run for our party, he needs to run for our state, and he needs to run for our nation.  

Rick, you are right: it is both the right time, and you are the right happening.  

We welcome this moment and we welcome you.


Tue May 07, 2013 at 10:18 AM PDT

A (South Dakota) Progressive Meal

by Anna Madsen

If I were a vegetarian, and ordered the Vegetarian Delight at a restaurant, and instead received the Meat Lovers Extravaganza, I think it’d be appropriate to wave down the waiter, point out that I ordered a vegetarian meal, and, well, I’d like the meal I ordered, please.

It doesn’t seem like it’d be a tacky thing to do.

It certainly wouldn’t be obnoxious or reactionary.

I also think it’d be O.K. to bristle if the waiter and my co-diners would get after me, saying that if I had really wanted a vegetarian meal, I should have gone to a vegetarian restaurant. Obviously, this is a cafe for carnivores, they might say.  

The more moderate patrons might appreciate my concerns, but would say that I should be grateful that at least some of my meal was meat-free. Surely a few chunks of chicken, maybe some shrimp or a slice of pork, shouldn't spoil the meal.  I should just ignore the pieces I don't like.

But if I continued to insist that no, really, I am a vegetarian and I am holding out for my ordered meal, and if people would then call me uncompromising, I think that it would be fully acceptable for me to point out that there’s a difference between being compromising and being compromised.  

After all, I’d say, I really am a vegetarian.

So say that is our scenario.

Now, it seems to me that the weird thing in this sketch would be the “pile-on the vegetarian” part.

The weird thing would not be the expectations of the vegetarian.

Except if you are a Democrat in South Dakota.

It’s the strangest thing.

It’s positively extremist for a Democrat in South Dakota to say that we’d like to have our next Congressional candidate be a Democrat.  

I know that South Dakota is predominantly Republican.

I know that often, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin voted Democratic.

But I also know that on the big issues, on issues central to the Democratic party, on the no-thank-you-we-don’t-eat-that issues, she voted with the Republicans.  

South Dakota Democrats, please do not forget:

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin voted for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in 2004, a position which was discriminatory then and, by looking at national trends, is considered regressive now.

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin voted against the Affordable Care Act of 2009, a bill overwhelmingly supported by the Democrats, rallied for by President Obama, and which protects the most vulnerable of our society (and, keep in mind, any one of us can become vulnerable in this way at any sudden moment).  All the while, she had health insurance paid for by the very ones who could not afford it for themselves, and against whom she was voting.

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (was the sole Democrat who) voted nay in 2009 to a bill that protected consumers from credit card companies’ abusive and regressive policies against which customers had no recourse.

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin voted against extending unemployment benefits for those deeply hurting in the economy of 2010.

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin voted against the Energy bill of 2010, which would have allowed for higher safety standards for off-shore drilling, removed a liability cap for oil companies, and boosted solar and wind power on federal land (to name a few benefits of the bill).

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin signed a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2010 insisting that Bush’s tax breaks for the wealthy be extended.

These are not issues like, say, eating eggs for a vegetarian, or perhaps a bite of cheese made with rennet.

Vegetarians--not vegans, but vegetarians--they eat such things.  

Progressives are not political vegans.  

We can work with Republicans on, say, immigration reform, on raising the minimum wage, on background checks.  

But on the above issues, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin voted to serve us what we, in principle, don’t eat.

Her votes on each and every issue listed above adversely affected South Dakotans, and, depending on how you look at it, the majority of South Dakotans at that.

Moreover, in an unsuccessful attempt to win re-election, she threw these principles and the South Dakota Democrats holding them under her bus....or plane, as the case may be.

South Dakota Democrats, it’s O.K. to be a Democrat.  

We’ve got really good things to offer to this state--if we had a chance to offer them without the interference of the Powers That Be preventing healthy conversation about our state party’s identity and direction.  

What South Dakota so-called “Progressives” are yearning for isn’t extremist.  

It isn’t reactionary.  

It’s exactly reflective of the Democratic platform, both at the State and National level.

It’s O.K. to wave the waiter over and say, “Hey there.  Guess what.  I ordered a Democrat. Could I please send this back and have what I ordered?”

Maybe, if the Republicans at the next table are still waiting for their House special to finally appear, we could even graciously send our plate over to them.  

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin would clearly and rightly beat Noem in a Republican primary.  

And if she won the seat, at least I could say that I didn’t order it, but that those who did got what they wanted.


Dear Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee,

Yesterday, I read Jonathan Ellis’ piece in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader about your keen interest in our South Dakota Senate Race.

I looked at the clock, I put down my coffee, I put down my paper, and then I went to church.

There, I heard God, and I heard echoes of our George McGovern, and I found myself getting my righteous indignation on.

The word 'righteousness,' in Hebrew, is tzedek.  Strictly speaking, it means “properly aligned.” For example, ideally, both a car and its driver are tzedek.  

But of course, one can be aligned with any number of points.

So when one speaks of alignment, one also has to decide with which points one should be aligned.

The DSCC is choosing the wrong points.

It’s not like I needed Ellis’ article to make me wonder for the first time which points DC insiders are using to try to align South Dakota Democrats.  

Such intervention caught my attention in 2010: Dr. Kevin Weiland vs. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

That did not work out so splendidly.  

Needless to say, references in Ellis’ article to DSCC arm-twisting, threats, horse heads, and goons rang familiar but not hollow.

We South Dakota Progressives have come to know that you are not aligned with us, nor with core Democratic values, and certainly not with the spirit of George McGovern that runs wide and deep here within our state party.

Be not mistaken: there are far more Progressives here than you believe, and with pockets both small and large.

So I am not only indignant.  I am righteously indignant: righteous because the South Dakota Progressive cause is aligned with South Dakota and is aligned with the basic points of the Democrats.

But when powerful DC Dems enter South Dakota, they seem to align themselves with Republicans and their talking points.  

And your efforts are pointless: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin lost badly to Kristi Noem.

We South Dakota Progressives believe that the Republicans are out of alignment.  

You are too.

We’d like to bring you back into alignment, along the line of health care for all, care for farmers and our environment and our natural resources, concern for education, advocacy for the Least of These, governmental transparency, protection of the elderly, protection of the lower- and middle-classes, and unrelenting safeguarding of programs on behalf of women and children.

We have not forgotten the meddling in 2010, and what it got us.  

We have also not forgotten George McGovern.  Tom Daschle.  Tim Johnson.  

You have.

We are not interested in giving our money or our time or our voices on behalf of a Democrat who is aligned with the Republican agenda.

Come to South Dakota.  

Your alignment is out-of-whack.  

We’d be awfully glad to fix it for you and make you all tzedek again.

We’d even give you a free copy of George McGovern’s book What It Means To Be A Democrat while you wait.  


Pastors learn more than theology on our paths to earn an M.Div.

One of the most helpful take-aways from my days at seminary had to do, actually, with family systems theories.

You wouldn’t believe how handy some of these principles are when dealing with congregational ministry; or, for that matter, any sort of work within any sort of system.

Like party politics.

So, for example, when groups have people who hold power and who can wield it unpleasantly when displeased, it turns out that the lion’s share of the group’s energy is geared toward keeping that person(s) happy, or, at the very least, placid.  

Trouble is, the identity of the group then becomes defined by this looming negative presence, rather than by its own essence found hiding in the safety of the shadows.  

Now couple that with this partner thought (and, I know, it will sound kitschy, but stick with me on this for a moment): ideally, individuals and groups should strive to be a “self-differentiated, non-anxious presence.”

Translation: know who you are, and where you begin and end; and whatever else you do, don’t get sucked into others’ anxieties stoked precisely because of who you understand and assert yourself to be.

These are helpful nuggets.

For South Dakota Progressives, they are nuggets of Black Hills gold.

Here, we Progressives have two coteries that have caused us to mute our message: Republicans and their apparent hold on our state; and Democrats who, aware of this hold, willingly define themselves and their message in light of the Republican prairie presence.

It’s easy to get sucked into the anxiety of losing, and then, to fend off that threat, as Democrats to identify ourselves using Republican doctrine in hopes that it’ll earn us a win.

2012 showed us clearly that the method doesn’t always work.

I sense, though, that there is a new spirit rising in our Party, a new sense of clear definition, and it is being noticed.

I think it’s a Progressive spirit.

In fact, I am convinced that we have more Progressives than you’d think in our party, and I am also convinced that South Dakota is, in fact, a mine of progressive ore.

Take a look:

South Dakotans value hard work: Progressives want people to be well-employed at a fair and living wage.

South Dakotans value our agricultural and historical land: Progressives recognize the connection between healthy ecosystems and healthy economies.

South Dakotans value helping the hard-hit: Progressives want to create social nets which keep safe the vulnerable and assist them in getting back into the game as and when they can.

South Dakotans value our aging population: Progressives want to shield Medicare and Social Security from drastic cuts, and from drastic reshaping.

South Dakotans value ordinary people: Progressives want to protect regular Jolenes and Joes from policies and structures that protect the powerful instead.

South Dakotans are sure that we deserve more than the national absolute last in education funding: Progressives make education funding a top priority instead of a not-priority.

That’s a decent list, and is one just for starters.

It is worth noting that we still do not know who will be our Democratic nominee for the US Senate race in 2014.  (Though it is also worth noting that the Draft Brendan Johnson FB site has, at last count, 4,255 likes compared to Blue Dog Stephanie Herseth Sandlin’s 1,066.)

We do know this, though: it is possible to bring together those two systems theories mentioned above.  We simply need to refuse to allow the fear of the Republican presence and the fear of losing to the Republicans to define South Dakotan Democrats.  

We can be defined by and on our own terms.  

The ones above aren’t too shabby, it seems to me.  They aren’t too foreign to South Dakotan principles, either.

We can name what we stand for, and then on those principles, we can stand there.

Once we do that, the next step is to get ready for all sorts of people to come out of the shadows of our State and join us on that Progressive platform--self-differentiated and non-anxious together.


Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 07:21 PM PDT

Know Brendan?

by Anna Madsen

Epistemology is the study of knowledge.  It asks the question, “How do you know what you know?”

We Democrats here in South Dakota know a few things about politics in our state and in our state party.

For example, we know that our previous (and purported) Democratic House Representative, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, was defeated by a thin-thinking, smooth-talking, party-line-reciting, poor-people-bashing, right-wing reactionary Tea Partier.  

And why?

Because Democrats had no interest in voting for a Trojan horse Republican, and Republicans were wise enough to vote for the actual Republican, smack-dab right next to her on the ballot.

I know it and I own it: I have a problem, and yet so do many members of our party, with Congresswoman Herseth Sandlin.

After receiving our avid and assorted support, she decided to vote against Obamacare (and right proudly too, making her vote central to her [losing] re-election bid). She voted against legislation to curb global warming. She voted for legislation containing tax breaks for “Big Oil” companies. She voted for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.  She signed onto a letter to Nancy Pelosi which advocated that the Bush tax breaks for the crazy-wealthy be extended.

For many of us in the State Party, these choices marked a deep betrayal of who we thought we knew her to be.

We know who she is now, though.

Given that, although we progressives know that she shouldn’t run for retiring Sen. Tim Johnson’s seat, we aren’t so sure that she knows that she shouldn’t run for his seat.

In fact, some of us have a hunch that she wants to do just that.

See, as knowledgable as we have become about Stephanie Herseth Sandlin’s politics, we are eager to know what our other options are.

We think, though, that there is a possibility that the U.S. Attorney for South Dakota, Brendan Johnson, might also be running.

We’re not sure, because his current office prevents him from bringing us in the know.

Nevertheless, we do know some things about Brendan Johnson.

Brendan was chosen “Prosecutor of the Year” last month by the South Dakota Domestic Violence Coordinating Committee.

His confirmation to his present position was unanimous in the US Senate.

AG Eric Holder placed him as chair of the Native American Issues Subcommittee, as well as on Holder’s Advisory Committee.

He initiated the first ever Tribal Listening Station in 2010, attended by 200-some tribal leaders and representatives from state and federal law enforcement.  

He seeks to equip people with information and confidence, as seen in his hosting of a Civil Rights’ Conference last year.  

He is U.S. Senator Tim Johnson’s son.

His father opposed every single one of Congresswoman Herseth Sandlin’s positions that I named above.

And, while this is admittedly soft by way of knowledge, friends of mine who are friends of his tell me that he’s a (yes, even in South Dakota we exist) progressive!

That’s what we know.

Now the moment has arrived for Brendan Johnson to know what we know:

Brendan Johnson, you should run for South Dakota's open US Senate seat.

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