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     Compromise:  The settlement of differences in which each side makes concessions. – The Free Dictionary

My sympathies to Rep. Lee Qualm of Platte, Majority Leader of the South Dakota House of Representatives.

Herding cats isn’t what he signed up for.

He should have consulted U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan in Congress for some tips.

On second thought, Ryan’s inability to find ways to get the U.S. House together on some key issues has led to his pending departure. Not so, thankfully, for Rep. Qualm, who has done a creditable job as House Majority Leader at the statehouse in Pierre.

But, his latest challenge is a vexing one. Some time back a story circulated that the conservative faction in the Legislature had decided to form its own political action committee. The language included the word “caucus,” which was apparently the final straw for Qualm and other GOP leaders, who have had their challenges with the harder right wing of the party.

The House and Senate GOP caucuses are the bodies that meet daily in Pierre during the legislative session to map out issue strategy and discuss upcoming bills. Clearly, the GOP leadership didn’t cotton to the idea of a separate caucus by its more conservative members and so Qualm and other GOP leaders, including Rep. Kent Peterson of Salem, and Sens. Blake Curd, Sioux Falls and Ryan Maher, Isabel sent out a letter requiring allegiance to the majority caucuses.

Deadline for legislators to respond is today, Aug. 8.

When I asked Rep. Qualm last week how the returns were coming in, he declined to comment, as I was certain that he would. Caucus business is, after all, private, and not subject to the state’s open meeting laws.

This now public open sore involving the state GOP illustrates the ever-present and widening political divide in this country. The division between President Trump and NeverTrumpers (Republicans who oppose him) is one of those; the gap separating Democrats and Republicans in Congress, where Democrats nearly unanimously oppose GOP initiatives, is another. It’s not just between parties, it’s within parties.

In South Dakota, the conservative Republicans in the Legislature have said they are trying to bring the party back to conservative values on taxes, spending and social issues. Moderates and left-leaning Republicans don’t see it that way.

Compromise is not in style. The word is in danger of becoming obsolete.

And yet, there is hope. Qualm, though he wouldn’t elaborate when I spoke with him, sounded optimistic. That’s something to go on.

Aug. 8, 2018