Independent Challenger for Herseth Sandlin is All Over Map

I’m a political independent. So is B. Thomas Marking of Custer. He’s running for South Dakota’s single Representative seat in the US House. I’m running after my two-year-old (who believes himself to be fiercely independent while at the same time asking for constant subsidies). Independents apparently come in a number of flavors:

The Custer man, who has retired from a career in federal and state service, is running as an independent candidate. He faces Democratic incumbent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Republican challenger Kristi Noem.

His life’s work has been the implementation of government policies, but not as an elected official.

He has a few out-of-the ordinary ideas about representation. Here is one of them:

“If my personal decision is at odds with what the people want, I will go with the people. It’s a matter of honor,” he said.

Constituents could vote either online or by mail, Marking said. He would collect information on issues and post it on a separate website so citizens could make informed decisions when marking their survey.

Elsewhere in the article, it appears as though he has strong opinions on matters. I find it improbable that he would be able to follow through with his statement that he would go against his own beliefs, as much as it might seem nice in the abstract.

Marking used health care reform as an example of an issue where citizens had little or no input.

“Do we want (health care) as an addition to our basic rights? People were never asked,” he said. “If the answer is yes, who pays? Business? Government? Then we forge ahead.”

He seems to miss that fact that business and government never pay for anything–they either pass the cost along to the consumers (in the case of business) or get their money from the consumers via taxes (in the case of government). And the statement about adding health care as a basic right tells me that he doesn’t understand basic rights.

“You saw the two parties in the past, and they were more the problem than the solution,” he said. “It seems like a matter of divide and conquer. They slap a label on the other side and describe them as evil. I didn’t want to be a part of it.”

As an independent, Marking admits he faces huge obstacles in raising money and recruiting staff. But he believes a small portion of the voters are hard-core Republicans and Democrats, and he will appeal to most South Dakotans.

It’s not, for me, so much that each side calls the other evil as is is that both Republicans and Democrats seem largely intent on the same goal: encouraging us to be increasingly dependent on the federal government. I’m not certain Mr. Marking holds a different view of dependency.

Marking does not want to see the U.S. remain in a protracted war in Southwest Asia or engage in long-term nation building. He prefers more use of special operations forces rather than conventional forces.

“With the way we are doing things now, you would knock (terrorists) down in Iraq, and they would pop up in Yemen. It’s like playing a game of ‘Whack-A-Mole,’” he said.

“We need to get our troops back here and take care of our border security. But border security has become entangled with immigration reform, and we need to separate the two. My wife is a legal immigrant from the Philippines, and we need to promote (that process).”

I don’t think very many of “want to see the U.S. remain in a protracted war in Southwest Asia.” However, we’ve made a number of promises to people in that part of the world and we should be very careful about breaking them. His statement about immigration reform being entangled with border security is a bit off the mark. If immigration reform means that we simply forgive all of the lawbreakers who are already here, then the issue remains very much one of border security. If by immigration reform, he means that we need to ensure that we enforce the laws already on the books–then I’m not sure what would be reformative about that.

On the domestic front, Marking expressed strong opposition to lawmakers who don’t even read complex legislation before voting on it. He noted the practice with the bank bailouts, stimulus spending and health care reform.

On the other hand, he doesn’t favor the GOP call for totally repealing the new health reform package. He doesn’t believe such an effort will occur or succeed. The dollars are already flowing for the programs, he said.

We should read the bills, he says. Good. But if we’ve already passed a bill, don’t worry about it too much. What’s done is done and we are already spending our grand-children’s money on the programs. Not so good.

Marking is intrigued by the fair tax proposal at the federal level that would tax consumption instead of income and investments.

Note that he is “intrigued” by this. Not saying that he’s actually going to do anything to further or if he is actually a member of the Fair Tax organization.

Congress also needs to push forward with energy independence as a matter of national security, Marking said.

The British Petroleum (BP) oil spill has created major outrage, but drilling will need to continue as an energy source until the nation develops alternatives, Marking said. He supports biofuels as a major renewable resource.

Of course, if one is running for statewide office in South Dakota, it is pretty well mandatory that one support biofuels. Energy independence, however, is a rather substantial pipe dream. Like it or not, we cannot be energy independent any more than we can be financially independent. The world is rather too connected to see such a thing come to pass–unless we are willing to dial back the clock to the days before universal electricity consumption.

In short, Mr. Marking does not seem to have a unified approach to policy–though he would not be the first politician with that characteristic. It will be interesting to see what ground he stakes out in specific opposition to Ms. Herseth Sandlin and Ms. Noem.

4 thoughts on “Independent Challenger for Herseth Sandlin is All Over Map

  1. That was my analysis of Mr. Marking. I was willing to give him and his candidacy a chance, but in the end, as a citizen of a Republic I need someone I can count on to legislate according to certain principles.

    Mr. Marking has a “finger in the wind” approach that, while packaged differently, doesn’t really seem that different than the way too many politicians vote today. While one might consider it more noble to vote with the general mob than the wealthy, accessed mob, in the end you’re still a pawn of the mob.

    No political system will ever be perfect in this fallen world, but I still believe a republic is best. If a citizen does their homework about the convictions, principles and character of a candidate (which, sadly, most people don’t), you can usually rely on them to stick with those principles (or lack thereof) in office.

    1. Bob,

      It is more important than ever these days that our elected officials tell us what they will not do (as much as what they will do) and then stick with those principles, as you have noted.

      If ever we had a time for leaders, it is now.

  2. I’m inclined to agree with Bob. I don’t elect a Congressman to pick the option preferred by 50%+1 on every issue. I elect a Congressman to apply good principles and intelligence in addition to public input to pick the best option.

    I’ve criticized Marking perviously for not enunciating clear positions. But if he is serious about his participatory model of government, then maybe he should remain silent on issues and commit entirely to saying, “I will do exactly what the majority tell me they want to do.” He needs to resolve the tension between his desire to lead and his desire to follow.

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