GIAGO: GOP may be in for rough times in ’12The owner of a trucking firm posted signs on his trucks that read, “New Company Policy: We are not hiring until Obama is gone.” Bill Looman denied that political motivation is keeping him from hiring employees. What is the point?
By: Tim Giago, Syndicated columnist
The owner of a trucking firm posted signs on his trucks that read, “New Company Policy: We are not hiring until Obama is gone.” Bill Looman denied that political motivation is keeping him from hiring employees. What is the point?
Looman’s statement is typical of the approach used by the GOP nationwide. It doesn’t matter what happens to the unemployed as long as Obama is defeated. The Republican Party may be in for an old-fashioned, behind-the-barn thrashing for putting party above people in the 2012 election.
America has been called a Nation of Sheep, but with the new technology, the sheep are better informed and they are not the stupid sheep of the past. The GOP should not underestimate the political intelligence of the sheep. Recent political ads by Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have been skewered as outright fabrications. We will see more of this as the election moves forward. Most Americans are too well-informed to allow ads taking the words of Obama completely out of context to go unnoticed.
The political pundits are busy trying to make predictions, but since the election is one year away, any prediction is frivolous. But not to be left on the sidelines, let me make a few predictions about the national and local political turns.
The only candidate up for re-election in South Dakota in 2012 is Congresswoman Kristi Noem, R-S.D. Her most likely opponent is former Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D. They faced off in 2010 and ran neck and neck to the wire.
Herseth Sandlin may not run this time. There is a strong suspicion that Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., may not run again in 2014 and Herseth Sandlin may just bide her time and run for his vacated seat in 2014. If Kristi Noem wins reelection in 2012, she may run out her term and then run against Herseth Sandlin for the vacant Senate seat. The candidates for the GOP presidential nominee have seen one after the other climb to the top of the heap, only to be pushed to the bottom by accusations of sexual harassment and political gaffes that have become almost comical. The most unlikely candidate to top the polls this week was Newt Gingrich. Most political pundits see Newt taking a nosedive in the upcoming weeks.
In the long run, it will be Mitt Romney winning the early primaries and establishing himself as the choice of the Republicans. Romney’s next move will be to choose Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., as his running mate. Thune has climbed up the political ladder over the past year and would make a strong vice presidential choice for Romney.
But just as important to the locals are the elections for the president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in 2012. Let’s look at a couple of possibilities.
If Russell Means, the political activist, can recover from his bout with cancer, and he decides to run again, he would certainly be the favorite and 2012 may just be the year he becomes the president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Ironically, there may be another candidate that will bring back a lot of memories should he run against Means. His name is Ryan Wilson, an educator who has made national headlines for his creative approach to solving many of the problems faced by the students and faculties at Indian reservation schools.
Wilson is the nephew of Dr. Jim Wilson, a man with powerful ties to Washington earned while he was director of the Office of Economic Opportunity. He is also the nephew of the two-term president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Dick Wilson, a man vilified by the media during the occupation of Wounded Knee, and a man who defeated Russell Means for the office of president after the occupation ended.
But if Wilson does run, his campaign will be about the future of Pine Ridge and not the past. He was just a boy when the controversies of the 1970s shook the reservation. He watched, listened and learned. Of course, most candidates for the OST presidency do not start campaigning in earnest until about mid-summer of the election year. There will be many more candidates stepping into the ring, and since many residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation are sick and tired of the retreads that keep crawling out of the woodwork, many will be looking for new candidates that are informed, educated and honest. I also believe that President Obama will surprise even the most ardent of haters and will win re-election in 2012. Fighting the largesse of the previous administration and faced with a dead-end Congress unwilling to set aside politics for progress, Obama has done his best with the tools given to him and deserves four more years.
Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, is president of Unity South Dakota. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard with the Class of 1990. His weekly column won the H.L. Mencken Award in 1985.