Now that’s just silly. Don, I'm quite sure that you're ok.

I heard through the grapevine that supposedly my name came up in a conversation where SDDP Press Secretary Don Carr was present. And also supposedly, the remark was that “he didn’t think I liked him.”

I was actually a little taken aback by that, because, how would he know if I liked him or disliked him? I’ve never met him.

Readers, there are lots of people who’s chain I might yank on in my blog. And there are people who I might give holy hell to. It doesn’t mean that I have a burning dislike for any of them. Not at all.

I give all sorts of grief at times to Republican candidates, and at times, I'll question the State GOP. Do you think I dislike them? No. faced with the option, I’d likely take a bullet for them. But that doesn’t mean I won’t cajole them to be better.

If this blog is anything, it is a place to disagree. An open forum to say “I don’t concur and this is why.” By my own admission, the language might get a little inflammatory because of the passion that I or commentors may feel, but it’s typically not personal. That's what happens when you talk politics. People are allowed to have divergent opinions and sometimes they get a little heated.

I’ve been involved in the process for years. And at some point, I was able to be a big boy, and come to the realization that the other side is not evil because of what they have on their voter registration card. They just have a difference of opinion.

Just for illustrative purposes, a bit of a story back from 1992. I was the Pennington County GOP director and I was in Pierre with the GOP legislative delegation trying to raise their press profile. So, for this end, we scheduled a series of weekly press briefings for the Black Hills Media.

We met in the Governor’s large conference room, and we had our legislators around the table. No press had arrived yet, but in strolls one of the Democratic interns. I was on her like a shot and asked what she was doing. She said that she was there to "monitor the meeting." So, I matter-of-factly informed her that “this was a private meeting between the Pennington County Legislators and the media,” and I asked her to leave. She quickly complied with the request, and scurried back upstairs.

A few minutes later, as I watched the door waiting for the stampede of reporters I was hoping to get at my briefing, here comes State Democratic Party Executive Director Rick Hauffee. Rick comes to the door with Representative Craig Schaunaman. About that time I pulled out my bravado, and my arm went across the open doorway to block entry.

Rick came up and explained that he and Herb Jones, (State Republican Party Executive Director at the time) had a gentlemen’s agreement that each would allow the other to cover their press conferences. My reply? “Nobody talked to me about it. I don’t work for Herb, and you’re not getting in here.” There was a bit more bluster at the door, with no movement on the issue, until Schaunaman called Representative Rex Hagg over from the table and I let them figure it all out.

But the bottom line was that I was being a dick on purpose because I could, and they were Democrats. Sure I could have verified it with Herb, and acquiesced on that basis. But nope, I was going to dig my heels in because they were Democrats. And that was reason enough.

Fast forward to 1994, when I was back in Pierre working as a session employee for the Senate Minority office (when the GOP was in the minority). One busy morning, I was surprised to see Rick Hauffee knock on the door and enter. I and another person were sitting there, and Rick came in to just shoot the breeze about politics and campaigns.

And about then, it really hit me. He wasn’t in there to call us a bunch of bastards because we were Republicans. He was just there to shoot the breeze and chat over coffee about the mechanics of campaigns. He had the same interest in politics that we did, the same problems, etc. The only differences were some of our ideological beliefs and a word on our voter registratrion cards.

And that was ok. We could be civil, and talk about mutual interests. It doesn't mean that we wouldn't give a campaign our best and hardest effort if we opposed each other. It just means that people on the opposite sides of issues don't have to permanently demonize each other because of party registration.

In elections and in politics, you aren't going to win because you consider the other side a bunch of rats. You are going to win because you've convinced a majority to agree with you. If your eyes get off of that prize, and make it personal, you are going to spend too much of your effort on things that don't matter.

So, ok. This whole post might seem a little pollyannish. But the point is that disagreement and argument and debate is a good thing. If we keep arguing and debating, and discussing; eventually a concensus can be reached.

Trust me on that. And you'll thank me when you eventually realize that my position is the right one..


Anonymous said…
I know back in the day alot of GOP legislators thought Rick Hauffee was the spawn of Satan but he was and is a really nice guy. He knows alot about how to run a campaign in South Dakota and is just a fun guy to sit down and have a few beers with.

Herb Jones is another guy I like to visit with. His wife and I are high school classmates and it seems that Herb and I often end up talking together at class reunions. Another classmate is married to Kevin Woster so we have the potential to have some pretty interesting political discussions at those reunions.
Anonymous said…
Well said PP. I wish others in both parties would think like this.
Anonymous said…
That is your best blog yet. I am in total agreement, and stand on the Dem side.
Anonymous said…
Thanks very much for the memory. It was very kind of you.

One of the lessons learned from being such a hard charger during the Mickelson years was the awful realization when Gov. Mickelson died that people are people, they have feelings, and life is too short to spend so much time and energy to ram away at public figures. True, it's part of the tour of duty when you work for a state party. But it leaves you with an empty pit in your stomach when you think back on it.

I've been reluctant in recent years to say much publicly about partisan politics. The shelf-life of radioactivity remains a long time in South Dakota if you've been a high-profile Democrat activist -- especially for 10 years, and I am extremely happy to be working at endeavors which don't have an "R" or a "D" next to their names. But I am very disappointed with the level of anger and sometimes outright hatred that I see in blogs and in campaign commercials. This has been a spiraling trend since 1980 in South Dakota politics.

Yes, the objective is to win. But the tactics these days seem intended to ruin people and to turn their names into epithets as the means to winning.

When I grew up in the 60s, the pursuit of politics and public office held much more esteem than it does today. The net effect has been a drastic deterioration of the quality of character and abilities of too many people who enter politics to get a "Senator" or "Representative" or "Commissioner" in front of their names.

Where is the moral or practical victory in that, other than to control power with people who really don't have what it takes to be exemplary leaders?

Enough rambling. Thanks so much. I enjoy reading these blogs every so often. Good luck with this one.

Just one more note for the editor, my last name has only one "e."

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