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Public Confession: I Do Like John Thune…

September 9, 2010
Official photograph of John Thune, U.S. Senator.

Image via Wikipedia

As a person, mind you. I don’t want to get into whether you or I like his particular political stances (for my readers who don’t know who John Thune is: he’s one of the senators from my state). And, I realize he’s a politician so it’s part of his job to make people like him — but if he’s faking it, I have been fooled. I like him.

I don’t know if elections are won one person at a time, but every time I’ve talked to him he has made me feel like he cares about what I’m thinking, how I feel and that he really does want to represent me (rather than himself) in his office.

Now, maybe I should tell you a little bit about how I feel about politics. They make me insane. I could easily make myself sick thinking about all of the power people in government have over all of us. Especially as it seems government is growing fatter and more useless in front of me each year.

I tend to ignore a lot of it for the sake of self-preservation. I don’t want to be angry or stressed about things I can’t control. So, I concentrate on the things I can control. When it’s time to vote I do my due diligence. I learn what I can and try to cast my ballot responsibly. I also contact my representatives on a regular basis — either via e-mail or letter. If I contact one of them I almost always contact them all and I usually send them the exact same message.

If she responds, Stephanie (our representative in Congress) — or more appropriately Stephanie’s office — always sends me a snarky, elitist letter with a tone of superiority that include talking down to me and usually some sort of explanation of the issue from her perspective. Like I hadn’t considered her perspective. (Although, she’s my representative so my perspective is sort of the point isn’t it?) Often the letter suggests that I just don’t understand how things work or the issue. And this is even if I agree with her on the issue!

Tim (our other senator) sends me a short form letter thanking me for my correspondence.

John (or likely someone from his office) always sends me something thoughtful and germane specifically to the note I sent. Furthermore, he (or the intern writing the letter) always includes some information on the things he’s doing in committee or his goals for the rest of his term.

I realize I probably like John more than the other two because I’ve been able to talk to him in person several times. The last time we were able to speak in person was at the Air Force Anniversary party a few years back. We covered quite a few things and one of the things that came up was the fact that the GOP wanted to get a republican in Stephanie’s seat.

Because I’m in advertising I had actually thought about that one quite a bit. It always struck me as odd that Stephanie would keep getting elected despite the fact that her ideals seem very divorced from those of the majority of people in this state. (For all my Democrat friends, please note my use of the word majority in the last sentence.)

I suggested that it might be good for the GOP to put a woman up against Stephanie. I could see in his face that the idea was intriguing and may have never occurred to him.

“Whether it’s true or fair or not, a lot of people don’t consider it a fair fight if it isn’t between two women. Based on some conversations I’ve had there are a lot of women voting for her just because she’s a woman,” I told him.

I gave him a few specific examples and he started nodding his head.

“Maybe (our Midwestern state) is sexist. But maybe it’s sexist in favor of a woman. Just maybe.”

“Interesting,” he said.

“I think it would be interesting to see what happens if a woman is running against Stephanie,” I said.

“Well why don’t you run?”

I don’t remember what I said to him then, but I know I laughed really hard. I was old enough. You only have to be 25 to run for Congress. Of course, I don’t know if I would want to be on a Republican ticket — no matter how I’m registered to vote. I’m way more independent and it’s all way more complicated that Republican or Democrat. But don’t we all feel that way?

Anyway, this year a woman is running against Stephanie. So, I guess we are going to get our fair (girl) fight for the seat this year. And I just saw the candidate, Kristi Noem, as I was walking through the lobby here at the newspaper. I couldn’t help but stop to say hello, introduce myself and wish her luck.

“Well, thank you,” Kristi said.

“You’re welcome. I’m excited to see how the election goes. The last time I talked to John Thune I told him that [the GOP] needed a woman to run against Stephanie.”

“Well,” Kristi said with a surprised smile, “he’s the one who approached me about running.”

Now that’s what I call representation! Maybe the system does work after all. I suddenly feel like a very powerful member of the electorate. Hooray for democracy! We can all make a difference and all that crap!

Yeah, I can’t help it. I really like John Thune. And I think I like Kristi too — again, I mean as a person not necessarily as a person to govern us. But hey, at least she lives in our state.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2010 1:03 pm

    Good for you on thinking about this. It is embarrassing to me as an American knowing that many in the general public consider that they are heard by Washington. Politicians inside the loop including many from other states outside my state are not effective for my community. People “Get to know your town and state politicians”. Write letters, visit their offices and give them a sense that you know what they are up to. Who is running for Coroner, Sheriff, District Attorney, Solicitor, House and Senate positions, etc. You might learn more about them as fathers, mothers, school volunteers, soup kitchen coordinators. I did not like George Bush politics much. I bet George Bush would be a cool guy to sit on the front porch with, have a drink and discuss farming, sports or travel with.


  2. Bob permalink
    September 9, 2010 1:10 pm

    Crystal.. Nice post. It is funny how we read the replies that come to us from our elected officials after we state or request answers to a concern. I don’t know if they know how we are registered, (I would assume that they do) but this could affect the outcome of the letter. However, after several insurance agents wrote all of our representatives on a matter, we all got the same, to the letter, reply. It did not matter how we vote, it is just how we read what we recieved. We all interpret words differently. On another point, we are a funny state like you say the majority from the Republican Party, but we seem to elect many Democrats year after year. Other states can not figure this out. George McGovern, Tom Daschle just to mention two that come to mind were long serving Senators. Go Figure. Tim Johnson and Stephanie are no different. I have enjoyed my conversations with Stephanie and have set on two boards with her in SD. She is smart and votes with her heart and SD in mind.


    • September 9, 2010 1:30 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Bob! I like to think that people in public office are doing it for the public. So I decide to think that, even when I have moments that frustrate me. Maybe I just need a chance to talk to Stephanie in person. Or she may need a new staff member to write her responses! 😉


  3. September 10, 2010 6:47 am

    This is a great story! I think it’s awesome you are so involved and more than know the names of your reps – you have actually spoken with many of them. Maybe you should run someday?


  4. Jacqui permalink
    September 10, 2010 7:21 am

    Very interesting thoughts all around! I really enjoyed this post, Crystal!

    I’ve had similar experiences when writing politicians…some OBVIOUSLY a form letter. However, the letters which have at least APPEARED to come from the heart and be painfully honest (even if not in agreement with my own feelings) are the ones that I have most respected.

    For example; I once wrote a letter to George Mickelson (state rep and eventually governor in SD). It was a plea for him to reconsider his stance on an issue in the news at the time. I felt it was a well written letter and one that was written without anger or condemnation. He must have felt so too… as he replied to that letter point-by-point. He also informed me of his reasons for NOT changing his mind on the issue. I respected his thoughts even though they were not in alignment with my own. He stated that due to his religious beliefs, he would not feel comfortable changing his stance. Although I respected the letter, I had always felt an urging to respond to his response…I did not have the opportunity to do so before his death in the plane crash on April 19, 1993. But what I DID notice, was that he had personally signed the letter. It was not a stamped signature. And for whatever reason, that caused me to feel that he was being respectful.

    I believe that for any more “in the public” person – the level of scrutiny must at times feel overwhelming. I applaud each one for stepping forward and attempting to do the job and do it well. I imagine that it is challenging for any public official to attempt to satisfy the requests and needs of the multitudes that they represent.

    My hope is that each individual (whether Republican, Democrat or Independant) will do their best to represent The People even when it may not align with their own agenda or that of others they’ve promised to align with. Does it happen? Maybe (if we’re fortunate) sometimes. . .

    And this is my opinion only – for which I am grateful to have the ability and freedom to share.


  5. Jennifer permalink
    January 10, 2011 1:38 pm

    Well, I may not agree with your point, as I am a democrat, I certainly understand your sentiment. I like Herseth, I met her several times in her inaugural year and campaigned for her. That being said, I also met with Janklow in DC when I was there as part of AIPIC; and I liked him. In fact both times I met him I liked him, the first being when I was five at his residence in Pierre at Christmas. But I don’t agree with his politics at all.

    But I do think it is pretty cool I know someone who seemingly influenced a political election. So hat’s off to you, even if I agree with the oppositions view!


    • January 10, 2011 2:19 pm

      My sister worked at the capital for a while and she said Janklow was kind of a jerk but that she always liked him because, “He’s the type of guy who will stab you in the front.”


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