Home > Republican, South Dakota > The South Dakota Republican Party needs to embrace independent thought

The South Dakota Republican Party needs to embrace independent thought

May 8, 2013

podiumI was just reviewing Representative Stace Nelson’s speech from the Constitution Rally in Rapid City this last weekend. Overall I like his honest and straight-forward approach; more of that is needed in politics. Looking at Rep. Nelson’s voting record this last session I can say he is probably one of the most truly conservative member of the SD legislature.

There is one portion of his speech that stuck out in my mind. About 11 minutes into the speech Rep. Nelson said the following:

A lotta folks say well you know your just a blind, a blind slave to the Republican Party platform. No I’m not. The Republican Party platform as its written here in South Dakota represents what my principles are and what I believe. I do support it. There’s some small things in there that I don’t support.

This statement from Rep. Nelson should be a starting point for elected Republicans going to Pierre each year. Every elected official should look at the platform closely to make sure it matches their principles. However, as I said before, the party platform is a starting point and not and end destination. Too often in Pierre the party platform for one of two possible outcomes that are bad for the constituents in South Dakota.

The first outcome I see a lot in Pierre is the elected officials simply ignoring their platform. Legislatures are voted into office based in large part upon the party platform. I would say this is true even more so in South Dakota than other states I have lived in. I am not saying elected officials shouldn’t be allowed to vote outside of the platform. Rather I believe any vote outside of the platform should be debated and it is the duty of those elected officials to communicate why they are varying from the platform that got them elected. Core platform principles may be debated in such instances. That’s OK  debating core values is healthy. Leadership within the Republican party must embrace various viewpoints and take them into consideration. Allowing alternative views on issues will not destroy the party; rather alternative views will allow the party to grow stronger and become more responsive to the residents of South Dakota.

Another outcome I have seen is blind adherence to the party platform on certain issues and not allowing for any dissenting voice. Sadly I see this behavior from many of the same legislatures that usually ignore the party platform. In these instances the party platform is used as an easy way out of debating an issue. I see this happening more at the Federal level; however it still happens more than enough in Pierre. When discussing these critical issues debate is of the greatest importance. If a dissenting voice speaks against a key platform policy it should be embraced. If the platform is truly correct on the issue that will be clear after the debate is concluded. It is quite possible the dissenting voice has a different way of looking at the issue that is consistent with the platform, but the rest of the party never looked at it that way. In addition, it is possible an issue may arise that will require changes to the platform going forward. It is healthy for the Party to continuously debate platform issues; especially platform issues that tend to get blind votes based upon party lines.

Finally I want to look at Rep. Nelson’s last sentence from the quote above: “There’s some small things in there that I don’t support.” It is OK to disagree with portions of the platform. The party should not try to mold every candidate into a carbon copy of the platform. Like I said above, the platform is a starting point and it should match the overall principles of each candidate; however there will be individual differences. Each elected official should feel free to speak up against issues they feel do not align directly with their personal principles. Republican leadership should encourage and embrace independent thinkers as a way to keep connected with their constituents. If a political party choose to ignore or punish independent thought that same party will find itself irrelevant in the future. Voters are increasingly registering as Independent or third-party. These voters will not tolerate the current behavior rampant within the Republican Party forever (even in a Red State).

  1. RINO Hunter
    May 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm


  2. March 12, 2014 at 11:04 am

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