If you’re like most of us, right now you think you’re one of a very few Democrats in western South Dakota. Not only did Donald Trump win the presidency, but the Republicans also swept most races in South Dakota. You watch the news these days with dismay, wishing the Democrats were not only larger in numbers, but more visible as well.
But before we go there, let’s talk numbers. In 2014, the most recent data available from South Dakota’s Secretary of State, Republicans comprised slightly less than HALF the registered voters in Pennington County. The rest were, of course, Democrats (27%) and the rest (23%) were Independents and other party members.
The messages to take away from this are:
- You are NOT alone, and
- Republicans are not the majority party in Pennington County.
So how can we, as Democrats, let other Democrats know we’re here? The ideas below came from a discussion at our November Pennington County Democrats’ meeting.
- Make sure notices of our meetings are posted widely.
- Keep our website and Facebook page up to date, with timely messages and a comprehensive calendar.
- Post our party events as Facebook events and invite widely.
- Write letters to the editor. Even though the Rapid City Journal is not as widely read as it once was, letters are still read by many people.
- Contribute to the Rapid City Journal’s “Two Cents” column. Though the posts are anonymous and sometimes mean and nasty, they’re read by many. Make sure that Democrats’ viewpoints are posted there, and always take the high road.
- Purchase targeted ads from various sources – Rapid City Journal and other smaller papers. Use alternative news sources when possible.
- Develop relationships with media people. If you do, they’ll be more likely to ask to speak with you.
- Bolster communications with the South Dakota Democratic Party.
- Canvass neighborhoods for Democrats, letting them know the party is alive and well. Identify other Democrats in your own precinct and introduce yourselves to them. Invite them to the next meeting.
- Have regular contact with our Congressional representative, letting them know when we disagree. Invite the press to those conversations.
- Work to refer laws with which we disagree and initiate ballot measures for issues about which we feel strongly.
- Attend legislative crackerbarrels and ask questions of current legislators.
- Create a list of spokespeople for specific issues such as healthcare, the environment and LGBT discrimination. They will be our go-to “experts.”
- Strengthen our precinct committeeman and committeewoman structure.
- Attend meetings of the city council, school board and county commission, and lobby their members on issues important to Democrats.
- Identify other progressive groups that share our ideas on issues and partner loosely with them.
If you’re a Democrat in western South Dakota, be on the lookout for these actions. And if you want to make change happen yourself, choose one of these and work on it yourself!