Friday, November 6, 2009

An Open Letter To Chris Nelson

Attn: Secretary of State and U.S. House hopeful Chris Nelson

Dear Mr. Secretary:

If she votes no on health care reform, I'm a Nelson guy.

And South Dakota Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin now says she's going to vote against the health care bill in the House.

So I'm writing to offer you my services as a campaign volunteer in your race against Rep. Herseth.

Now, I know that you're against the very same bill. But at least I know why. The bill would represent a massive political victory for President Obama and the Democrats. I don't expect any Republicans to be for it. So even though we disagree, I can, on some level, respect your position.

We don't, in fact, agree on much. But I do have some experience volunteering. I worked hard to defeat the abortion ban here in South Dakota the first time around. And I knocked on doors and made phone calls for Barack Obama in Iowa. I even served as a precinct captain in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Hutchinson, Kansas. (We won both places big, by the way.)

Now you were on the other side of those arguments, but, still, I'm sure you can appreciate that organizing is organizing, in the end. I can cut turf, run a phone bank and I, ultimately, believe that you can swing an election on the ground. Every campaign needs people like that.

And at least you have publicly taken a stand on health care reform. I can respect that. Rep. Herseth Sandlin is STILL straddling the fence. She says she might vote for the final version -- even though the House bill will cut the deficit much more than the Senate bill she claims she prefers according to CBO estimates. So much for the Blue Dogs being deficit hawks, eh?

In the past, I've generally voted for candidates whose ideology I though most closely mirrored my own. But I'm willing to make an exception, this time. I know liberal South Dakotans who used to vote for Bill Janklow. I knew conservative Minnesotans who used to vote for Paul Wellstone. Those people voted the way they did because they admired public servants who stood for something, and, moreover, who didn't make them ashamed to believe what they believed, even when they differed.

So, think it over, and I'll be in touch about knocking on some doors for you in Pierre when this thing gets cranked up. I probably still have my clipboards, and I can wear my Nelson button right next to the one that reads "Ask me about Barack!"

I'd rather be represented by a Republican who votes like a Republican and tells me why than a Democrat who votes like a Republican whenever she thinks someone is watching.


Josh Linehan

*cross posted at David Montgomery's blog at

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