Pam Nelson departure marks death knell of era where Democrats were actual opposition party.

Jonathan Ellis is writing more about a story that you learned about a week ago – the departure of Minnehaha County Treasurer Pam Nelson.

Nelson, along with a select few others, might be among the last relics of a time when Democrats actually tried to represent a majority of South Dakotans, as opposed to being SJW ‘warriors of the woke.’

Today, there are 154,420 registered Democrats compared to 264,439 Republicans, and Democrats haven’t won a statewide office in more than a decade. What changed?

When Nelson entered politics, the Democratic Party had a strong coalition that included blue collar labor and McGovern farmers. In Sioux Falls, there was the heavy influence of Irish Catholicism. Today, that coalition is gone, replaced by an ascendant strain of university-educated drones who can lecture for hours about white privilege without knowing what century the Civil War was fought. The ascendant strain obsesses about race and sexual orientation – identity politics – while neglecting, even scorning, the concerns of labor, unless you’re a teacher or member of a government union, one of the only areas where unions continue to flourish.

Read it all here.

10 Replies to “Pam Nelson departure marks death knell of era where Democrats were actual opposition party.”

  1. a friend of education

    About this well-written piece, I have mixed feelings. Sure, it’s thoughtful, incisive, and honest, but it offers Dems a roadmap to reclaim SD relevance. Do we want that outcome? I suppose we needn’t worry. “Progressive” ideologues have demonstrated that they’d rather run riot than rule. Legitimate liberals, a dying breed who cherish free speech, value ALL LIVES, & support working families regardless of race, color, or creed, face a dilemma: where to align in post-Trump America? Do they continue to hold their noses and march with Cultural Revolutionaries, looting small businesses, burning police stations, & humiliating every apostate Karen and Becky? Can they continue to ignore the murder of good men like Bernell Trammell and other brave dissenters? Or do they abandon the larcenous left and unite with traditional centrists to define a patriotic, pragmatic agenda? Only time will tell.

    Reply
    1. enquirer

      the biggest pet peeve anyone can carry about south dakota politics is the utter collapse of the democratic party as a serious political power. it is only the fact that so many registered dems will never register for another party, which keeps the sddp from being far less powerful than the conservative coffee klatch.

      Reply
  2. John K Claussen

    The lesson to be learned from the Nelson era is that she was a political brand name and a successful one at that.

    Her political end does not signal the end of an era for Democrats in
    South Dakota, because, that era ended long ago, but Nelson prevailed beyond that era, because she was a brand name who cared about voters, tax payers, and the working men and women of this state, and her electoral successes over the years proves this, and that is the real story which now needs to be told as Nelson appears to be exiting politics, but a story unfortunately that was not found nor developed with Ellis’s article.

    Ellis’s piece was more an attempt at an obituary for a political party than a given political leader, but absent the current COVID-19 crisis, when have obituaries been so late in coming?

    Ellis’s piece missed the fact that Nelson was a political phenomenon in her own right, whose relevance came from a consistency, which the voters recognized often over the years.

    The only great irony of her political life was that her two political defeats over forty plus years of political involvement came from two mayors from Sioux Falls. She lost a bid to be mayor of Sioux Falls in ’91 to incumbent Jack White, and then lost her seat on the PUC in 2002 to former Sioux Falls Mayor Gary Hansen.

    And many actually believe she won the 1991 mayoral race except for a voting machine error, or predicament, which caused many of her votes to go to White, because the third candidate in that race, Skippy Robert Blechinger, whose name was first on the ballot had his full name on the ballot, which then caused Nelson’s name to be pushed over too far on the label which consisted of all of the candidates’ names on the old fashion metal curtain closing voting machine counters, which then caused some to vote for White, whose lever was third on the ballot, but actually beneath Nelson’s name, however.

    So the era ended long ago and Barth’s successes since 2006 – as also mentioned in Ellis’s article – on the Minnehaha County Commission have more to do with the Blue Wave of 2006 and the power of incumbency, I might add, then any coalition which Ellis claims once existed and even up to 2006, which the latter suggestion by Ellis I seriously question.

    Good luck Pam and thank you for your service.

    Reply
  3. grudznick

    The Libertarians, under the eyes of young Mr. Oakes with grudznick and his good friend Bob watching and pulling the strings, are going to take over the position as the second most powerful political party in South Dakota. It is the out-of-state name-callers and Mr. H the libbies have to blame.

    Rock on, Mr. Oakes. Just remember toking is not your only plank.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      At least with the Libertarian party, they are not Anti-American like the Democrats are. Their stance on Crime and Justice is preposterous and much in line with the Democrat thought process. Basically, anything goes like prostitution but, we all know most women in this field are pushed into it so it’s not a victimless crime. The same goes for drugs, they create criminals and zombies and should stay illegal. They share many values with Conservatives as it relates to free speech, property rights, individual liberty, and the fiscally conservative. They have so many positions correct, I think I would GLADLY welcome them as a 2nd party and lets exterminate the Democrat party from SD once and for all

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  4. Troy

    First, I need to say that I have respect for Pam Nelson as a person and appreciate her public service. During the Mickelson administration, Nelson was a strong voice in the Legislature and whose work ethic was solid. She was never caught unprepared.

    That said, to some degree, Pam was a leading indicator of what the Democratic Party has become. During the Mickelson years, the Dems could often organize a working majority on a number of issues and sometimes were critical to legislation moving forward.

    At that time, you had McKellips, Burg, Haley, etc. who understood how to impact legislation and public policy. They judiciously chose their fights and had an impact. Nelson was at the center of a new breed of Democrat who spent significant effort to deny “victories” by Mickelson. It was the forerunner of today’s identity, Machiavellian brand of politics.

    I do think to some degree Pam chose a different path as she got older where she became an influencer instead of just a a firebrand.

    Thank you for your service Pam Nelson. The State of South Dakota and County of Minnehaha has been made better because of your service.

    Reply
  5. John K Claussen

    What I really loved about Pam’s politics was that she was a street fighter and a scrappy one at that. She took the fight to others. My only criticism of her, however, was that, that persona, in my opinion, was lost when she was on the PUC for some reason, which then lead to Hansen’s victory.

    I’ll never forget an interview she did with Steve Hemmingsen (KELO) in the early 90s, where Steve started his questioning of her by saying that the talk in Pierre is that if Pam’s name is on a piece of legislation, then it’s dead on arrival, but Pam wasn’t thrown by that question at all in either speech or body language. Rather, she shot right back at Hemmingsen talking about how it can be lonely at times working for the average man and or woman in Pierre, and then elaborated before Steve on that theme.

    So, I think it is fair to say, that we need more Pams in the South Dakota Democratic Party today. Instead, unfortunately, we have, however, too many trying to be nothing more than kinder and gentler Republicans.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      We dont need anymore Democrats. The party is an embarrassment on a national level. Their core beliefs are Global Warning, Free Health Care, Health Care for All, Trump bad and Conservatives evil, Defund Police, and Identify Politics. This looks NOTHING and I mean NOTHING like the Democrat party my parents belonged to. Every piece of their platform is Anti-American and bad for the working class American. Anyone who cannot see that is just blind. The Democrat party is the party of the elite rich 1% and all you have to do is look at who backs them. This party is Dead in South Dakota and I want it to stay that way. Bring on the Libertarian party as our 2nd party and kick the Dems to the curb for good.

      Reply
  6. Troy

    JKC,

    Which of your candidates for the legislature are “kinder gentler Republicans)? Which are serving now who’d you give that moniker to?

    I’ll bet you will sit none because there are none. And, that goes to the reason there are so few who get elected outside of Indian Country where party registration is so Dem heavy, you guys keep running people deemed wackjobs by the average South Dakotan.

    Reply

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