I suspect we should have guessed with the utterly unpredictable presidential primary which has an obnoxious and sometimes profane candidate leading the Republican field, and an avowed socialist captivating the imagination of Democrats far, far longer than anyone would have credibly thought.
Welcome to 2016. An election year we may have to dub “the year of chaos.”
It appears that we’re going to have a significant number of primary elections on the Republican side, and in some cases, Democrats are giving the illusion that they may actually field a few candidates, but they’re still few and far between, and some of the candidates they’ve come up with are just awful.
Did I say awful? I meant really awful. When, leading the ticket, you have Paula Hawks the invisible candidate who spends her time campaigning & fundraising on liberal facebook memes and Jay Williams who recently demanded on twitter that we need to “Stop Using Fossil Fuels! Period,” it shows they have a small bench, and the people sitting on it aren’t your friend and neighbor. They’re the guy writing letters to the editor on how “we need to pay more in taxes,” and “isn’t that President Obama doing a nice job?”
I don’t know about you, but that’s nobody I know.
In talking with people, when I refer to “chaos,” there seem to be tidal forces pulling Republicans apart. Moving into the campaign season, for Republicans, it’s hard to campaign on a platform of not raising taxes when you look at what we have done over the past two sessions – raise taxes.
It’s not as if we haven’t had to do so before during the Janklow or Mickelson years. But there seems to be this “mood.” Maybe it’s caused by watching the bad behavior of the presidential candidates. Maybe it’s caused by years of cuts then followed by a couple years of taxes. Or there could be an entirely different cause. But people at the grassroots seem to be “angst-y” for lack of a better term.
And it’s hard for a lot of Republicans to reconcile. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have fixed our highways. We should. I’m not saying we should not do something about being a distant last in teacher pay. We needed to. But doing what we did – governing – and doing what we needed to do to fix two big and chronic issues as we did is causing a lot of rumbling at the state legislative level for the Republicans I’m talking to. There seems to be a bit of unrest.
Raising taxes for teacher salaries is ok for Republicans on the 1-29 corridor, and in other urban centers. But get west of the river… that gets to be a tougher issue.
If it’s going to manifest itself, I think much of this angst is going to come out in the number of Republican primaries. Last election we ended up with 5 GOP Senate Primaries and 12 Republican House Primaries. This year, I’m already counting based on what I know and what I’ve heard coming, and 20 days out from the filing deadline, we’re already at about 7 primaries in the Senate.
For all the rumbling, if Republicans can take heart in anything, it’s that while people might want change, in South Dakota they do it on an educated basis. They’re willing to consider choosing between one Republican over another. Thankfully, there’s no way most would consider voting Democrat.
They might rumble, and have angst. But they aren’t crazy.