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Pressler at the SDLP Convention

August 21, 2014
Independent US Senate candidate Larry Pressler speaking at the SDLP convention. Photo by Ken Santema.

Independent US Senate candidate Larry Pressler speaking at the SDLP convention. Photo by Ken Santema.

On August 9th the South Dakota Libertarian Party (SDLP) held its convention in Sioux Falls South Dakota. One of the guest speakers in attendance was Independent US Senate Candidate Larry Pressler. I thought he would be an odd guest speaker for the event, but he came with some advice for the party. And I think it worked out pretty good having him there as a blogger because it gave me a chance to hear him in a small group. I didn’t come out of this event liking Pressler any more as a candidate, but I feel a better understanding of where he is coming from now.

Before the event I took a moment to speak with Pressler. The main question I wanted an answer to is “who will you caucus with”. Pressler wouldn’t answer the question outright. Instead he said that Independent candidates typically go through a negotiation process with both the Democrat and Republican caucus in order to get the best deal. In such a circumstance he would negotiate to get back some of his seniority, which it turn would make him more powerful than the typical newly elected Senator. A big part of me really doesn’t like this approach. It seems to put gaining political power before principles. I would almost prefer it if Pressler said he wasn’t going to caucus with either party and remain truly independent.

When giving his speech, Pressler opened with the fact he has taught about third party and independent candidates and their impact on the political system. He came to give advice to the SDLP in such a capacity. Pressler also listed the current Independent candidates in the Senate and gave examples of how powerful they have become. He basically said as an Independent Senator he could bring a lot of power to the SD delegation.

Pressler then went on to say he has already spoken out against the many civil wars the US has gotten involved in. He mentioned serving in DC with Ron Paul, and has generally agreed with Ron Paul’s non-intervention beliefs. Pressler would like to see the US intervene less often and get other countries to take an intervention role more often. This is an area I’m not sure Pressler is truly understanding non-intervention. I believe a non-intervention policy is not just about the US, it would apply across the board. Supporting intervention by another country is no different than supporting intervention by the US.

When talking about the two-party system, Pressler believes it has served this country well. He thinks the current partisan battles can be broken by a few Independents and things will operate as they used to. I hope he is wrong. Many of us feel it would be wrong for Congress to return to the days when both parties basically got to do whatever they wanted, and the few ‘battles’ in Congress were mostly for show. Legislating is not meant to be an easy process. It is setup to be messy, slow, and hard. Such a process helps to ensure the government isn’t doing too much. Theoretically it also keeps legislators focused only on areas where the federal government has actual power; unfortunately though it has been a long time since Congress truly cared about federalism.

Most of the rest of Presslers speech was short talking points. Here are some highlights:

  • Presser believes it is misguided to try repealing Obamacare. Instead he believes it should be fixed.
  • He believes the two parties are paralyzed and a conduit for special interest money.
  • Pressler sees the Republican party voting for unlimited military spending and corporate welfare.
  • Pressler also sees the Republican party raising the deficit more than the Democrats do. But both are bad when it comes to spending.
  • He re-affirmed his one-term pledge (does that really mean anything after having already served 3?).
  • He will not try to raise any money after November 4. Meaning he will not spend half of his time fundraising, and instead can focus on legislating.
  • Pressler said the ruling party in SD has become a “good old boys club”. There have been no true investigations. He said the SDGOP has a monopoly on power in the state.
  • Pressler would appoint an independent US Attorney to SD.
  • Finally, Pressler sees a great apathy from voters.

Some of the points above I agree with, some I disagree with. It was good to hear Pressler saying the Democrats and Republicans are basically the same in DC when it comes to spending. If Pressler can show he would be more fiscally conservative than Rounds, then maybe he can pull some votes from that direction. I still don’t see Pressler making a huge impact in this race, but you never know what will happen over the next couple of months.

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