When the enemy is everything “big,” how do we measure success?

I was recently contemplating the divide within the Republican party, contemplating how it might be bridged. I ask the question because I fear the divide which seems to be ever widening will trigger the loss of elections for the home team.

Unfortunately, Republicans seems to be suffering from an identity crisis.

You have the traditional Reagan Republicans who measure success as… well, success. They measure it in terms of growth, and economic well-being. It’s law and order oriented and has a laissez faire attitude towards government and regulation. It’s what we might traditionally think of as our capitalist system.  Whether it has been community growth or more and better paying jobs, it has been our mantra for decades.

On the other hand, there is a movement of populists within the GOP which has taken root, and seemingly has set itself up as the enemy of “big.”

Virus sweeping across the country killing people, and vaccinations are recommended as the first line of defense? Well, that’s BIG PHARMA trying to take over our lives.

Hey, a group of investors is coming in and putting up wind towers. Well, that’s BIG WIND.

Don’t even get me started on pipelines.   In 2017, you had people like State Rep. Jon Hansen as the prime Sponsor of the riot boosting bill to take on those organizing the pipeline protesters for the Keystone XL Pipeline. In 2023, now populists such as Hansen are part of rallies, and appearing on pillow-guy TV railing on carbon pipelines. With the new wave of populists who could have cared less 5 years ago about pipelines, now it’s BIG ETHANOL that’s being portrayed as the villain.

Another great example was when the Governor and Dakota State University put together a transformational partnership for DSU’s cyber security expansion in 2022, which would lure as many as 1500 new jobs to the state, and an economic impact of hundreds of millions.. and the populists on appropriations gutted the funding because it was too big.

Or as Rep. Taffy Howard, one of the idiots members of the committee declared when she opposed the measure whether funded or not, “We should allow natural growth.”  Because natural growth would put together 100 million in funding for a public/private/university partnership for a cybersecurity center and drop it in Sioux Falls, South Dakota?

Even within party politics, there are populists who are just dead set against success. They regularly attack Governor Noem. They throw rocks at her, as well as other people they perceive to be Republican party leaders. It’s as if they have an adult case of oppositional defiance disorder and will oppose anyone just for opposition’s sake. One example would be how they rail on about Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck. You can’t argue with his success, since we’re literally down to 4 Democrats in the Senate.  But, the populists regularly attack the Senator for his role in leadership.

There was an article from a couple of years back which talked about Democrat Elizabeth Warren trying to appeal to prairie populism, noting how populists cast their villains:

The American midwest, today a sea of conservative elected officials, wasn’t always this way.  Left-wing populism mattered from the late 19th century, when William Jennings Bryan crusaded against eastern financiers on behalf of humble farmers, into the late nineties and early 2000s, when “prairie populist” senators like South Dakota’s Tom Daschle and Iowa’s Tom Harkin were Democratic stalwarts.

Over time, the midwest’s political animus has changed. In the words of long-serving Iowa Republican senator Chuck Grassley, “in the 1890s it may have been people expecting the government to take on the economic kingpin… now I would describe prairie populism [as] people who have distrust of government.”

You can read that here.

As the movement has evolved since the article was written in 2019, You can’t help but notice that while many South Dakotan’s prefer a small government, the populists within the party seems to be shifting hard to the left with their distrust of anything “big,” trying to paint it as somehow conservative or Republican, a term they use interchangeably as they don’t automatically identify with the party, so they use a buzzword that pops into their heads.

The fact that they are so dead set against anything that seems of scale, you find yourself asking are growth & opportunity now bad? Is success now bad?  Because if all of that is bad, what are we supposed to be working for? How do we ensure continued prosperity and growth?

And that’s the problem with being against everything. You might be able to be against everything, but not everyone is going to buy into that eternal pessimism.  There is the problem that many politicians face that at some point, you actually have to govern.

Governing may include promoting growth. That may include big projects, or thinking in terms of how we grow jobs, benefit a community or an industry. Because if we didn’t do that at some point, we’d all be reading by lantern light, and going down dirt roads.

How Republicans deliver for our community and our state are going to affect how we are viewed in terms of governing.

Those who lose sight of that might just find out the hard way at some point.

26 thoughts on “When the enemy is everything “big,” how do we measure success?”

  1. Hansen is pro-ethanol… It’s not even that you’re taking him out of context…you’re just making things up Pat. Even in the clip you posted they are discussing how to save the ethanol industry from the climate wackos who want to ban the internal combustion engine and run ethanol out of business. I watched the whole interview and it’s clear that Hansen wants to preserve ethanol and also defend private property rights. Seems pretty right on to me.

      1. Noem is also a fan of Lindell and flown on his plane and texts him when Taffy Howard is on his show. So I would guess Noem is the most popular Republican in SD and would easily win any primary she runs for.

        Ian Fury frequently says SD is not conservative its populist.

        Noem is the leader of the populist wing.

  2. Well said Pat. The populists seem to look at policy through a big government conservatism lense rather than limited government.

    While I don’t agree with the Governor on everything, the DSU project proposed by the Governor is helping create the conditions for success. This is something conservatives of many stripes have traditionally supported until more recently.

    1. I didn’t want to vote for Taffy Howard or Dusty Johnson in 2022. I’d vote for Kristi Noem if she would run for congress against him. Kristi is the standard bearer of the conservative/populist wing that Odenbach, Hansen and others represent.

      1. Odenbach and Hansen hate K Noem. Too many serving now have their eye on being Governor. None of them have a snowballs chance.

  3. Some folks never learned the sacrifice made for Western freedom.

    Some learned it but forgot.

    Some learned it, remember, but got bought.

    The majority of us, about 120,000,000 strong, act upon the importance of this moment.

    It’s a gradient, not a divide.

    In 2020 we had a very important test to know who was in the America/Western/MAGA majority.

    That list is public and well known, and it is like a seed in the ground that has just started growing.

    Everybody else is trying to poison that seed with fervor.

    Your argument is basically that the seed is the enemy of the harvest (human freedom).

    1. wow, 120,000,000 who had voted would have clinched a win for the donald. where were they?

      1. They went out for milk and some cigarettes, they’ll be back any day now…

  4. I appreciate our legislators that stand up for our property rights. It’s our property and we have a say on what happens there. Private companies have no right to use eminent domain for their private gain.
    Please don’t lie and call Jon anti ethanol. That’s such a false narrative that educated people are seeing through. The ethanol industry is capable of sustaining itself without capturing the carbon dioxide. You can support ethanol AND not want the CO2 pipeline. There are many landowners/farmers do and it makes complete sense if you truly do your research and understand science.

    1. Pointing out Hansen taking a shot at ethanol producers as they try to stay in business was not the main focus of the article. It was 1 paragraph with information to support the point.

    2. How exactly would the ethanol in South Dakota be able to sustain itself without Carbon Capture and Sequestration if Canada, California, and other markets mandate that any ethanol sold in their borders must incorporate that process?

      Read the writing on the wall, CCS and other climate change mitigation technologies will be mandatory in large industrial capacities, and we need to be ahead of the curve in implementation to stay economically feasible.

  5. The problem with the far right of the Party, the folks you call Populists, is that they want control of the Party. They do not have the mental horsepower to be in those positions. They thrive on controversy and chaos, what Mr. Dale calls “freedom”. Thank goodness we have leaders like Senator Schoenbeck.

    1. Not only that though, they are all near completely unelectable in competitive races, as made plain by almost all of Trumps endorsed primary candidates found out in 2018, 2020, and 2022. Bad candidates cost us the Senate, plain and simple. It will also cost us the White House again in 2024, possibly the House of Reps too.

  6. I’m sorry but you can’t be for ethanol and against the CO2 pipelines. That is a position that doesn’t exist in the real world. Ethanol won’t exist in 20 years without it. You can like that or not but its reality. Thankful that people out there recognize reality. Lots of angry populists out there, as Pat said, who are simply against everything for reasons they can’t explain.

  7. SD needs more populists. SD LEGISLATION is made up primarily of progressives. We prefer to call them RINOs: Republicans in Name Only because their policies and practices are so much like those of the liberal Californians that we love to make fun of. Oh those crazy Californian liberals. Well, how crazy are they? California’s California Air Resource Board (CARB) dictates/controls South Dakota’s ability to sell ethanol to California, the BIGgest buyer of ethanol. So in order to get those California Dollars, SD is allowing BIG private companies to take private land to earn private money.

    Can you hear that? That’s The sound of California laughing at South Dakota for attempting to develop a carbon capture pipeline to be in compliance with CARB while stealing from the farmers they pretend to care about. Oh, by the way, carbon pipelines are forbidden in California because they’re DANGERGOUS. And that’s a BIG deal.

    Cardon dioxide doesn’t need to be captured. That’s an invention of the Klaus Scwabs of the world.

    Rep. Hansen, and other “populist” as you call them, isn’t against ethanol. He’s against private companies stealing private land to make private profit. (Carbon dioxide is not a utility. It cannot be traded. )

    I stand with him.

    1. People who use the term RINO are not respectable Republicans. The respectable ones adhere to Reagan’s 11th Commandment, “thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.”

      1. True, that is what President Reagan stated. But he also had no problem pointing out when those in the party were not acting as conservatives; CPAC 1975 and during his 1980 campaign.

      2. Yes, rude indeed to make reference to membership in that which is simply a social club.
        Afterall, what would your neighbors think?
        How would you be able to schmooze any business?
        … if not a member of the Sioux Falls Area RaR* Club?

        BTW, afternoon tea with finger sandwiches is scheduled for 4 p.m. tomorrow afternoon in the Country Club Gardens.

        * Registered as Republican –
        Simply for the social benefit of doing so to one’s social status …
        To get elected to office …
        Or both (if you sell insurance or beer).

    2. Wait, you mean a Californian regulatory agency can control what is sold in California? Wow, you don’t say? California will be building CCS pipelines soon though, because the other side of their moratorium on construction is that they want stronger regulations than the Feds. Which is something that they do for about everything. Secondly, most of Californian geology isn’t conductive to carbon sequestration, and what is suitable is close enough to move by barge.

      And we don’t need to worry about CO2? Pray tell, please explain then the direct link between rapidly growing CO2 and other greenhouse gas levels with the rapidly changing weather patterns and climates. We’re not having more intense and more frequent hurricanes, floods, and droughts for no reason.

      Oh, and you don’t need RaNdOM cApITAliZatIon, it just makes you look just silly.

  8. Hold the phone,….Folks are saying that unless Eminent Domain is used to force landowners to comply with the wishes of this Iowa company, the CO pipeline won’t be built. That is not true. It is not one or the other. That is just a bargaining threat. It will be wonderfully profitable for the company and its shareholders as it is subsidized by the federal government .The Pipeline is a billion dollar piece of infrastructure with a minimum 50 year life span. Meeting the landowners price for their easement will have little impact on the viability of the project. The company will just build in the costs of easements into their business plan when the project is completed.

  9. “… the traditional Reagan Republicans …”.
    The poltical establishment in this state wrapping themselves in Ronald Reagan in order attempt to provide legitimacy to their free spending habits and big(ger) government approaches to governance.
    Comical and entertaining, really.
    The most egregious malapropriation of the Reagan legacy is the big-spending liberal mayor of the state’s largest city posing with blather about “big tent conversations”.

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