Goodbye, South Dakota

At 12:55 pm CDT on Friday, May 27, my status as a lifelong South Dakotan ended. I crossed the state line en route to the city in which my wife and I now live. Two of our three daughters and our granddaughter live in the university town larger than Sioux Falls.

Family was the motivating factor. Our daughters had been dropping hints about us moving for a couple of years. Initially resistant, my wife decided in March that she wanted to see our granddaughter grow up as COVID prevented us from seeing her as much as we’d have liked. That’s also why it’s been dark here. In just two months, we bought a house in another state, sold our house, packed up our belongings, had movers load things up, and did all the other things that go with relocating. I’ve lived in six different communities in South Dakota but have never resided outside the state.

Sadly, I have to admit I’d come to regard South Dakota with contempt. I’ve been “Noemed” and “wing nutted” to death. It’s simply no longer the state I’ve known for more than half a century. During my life here, there were three different Democrat governors (granted, one was appointed and served only five months). Democrats held the state’s U.S. House seats for 37 years. Between 1962 and 2008, we had four Democrat U.S. Senators who served 60 years. In fact, from 1973-1979 and 1997-2005 both Senators were Democrats.

Thus, I remember a time when the state and its politicians focused on problems, not party propaganda. Today, Noem travels the country as a devout Trumpette, focuses on right-wing hot button issues, and encourages people to gain “free-dumb” here. A governor’s job is to address the state’s core issues (poverty, lack of health care, and children, to name just three), not echoing Trumpisms and issuing venomous press releases on issues that don’t genuinely impact South Dakota.

Let’s not forget the legislative branch. Senators Thune and Rounds prefer elevating politics over principle. Like much of Congress, they’re devoted to obstructing Democrat-sponsored legislation and presidents (including Supreme Court Justices) and toeing the Trump/GOP line. There’s no real search for, let alone any effort to, reach across the aisle to try and solve national issues. Sadly, the state Legislature is worse. There’s such Republican domination that a whacko element of the party can influence state policy and the state’s future. To call them right-wing maniacs is an understatement.

And while it may be the case in many cities, Sioux Falls kowtows to developers and the financially well-off. There’s little concern for what the citizens want and little to no transparency.

Given today’s political atmosphere, where I now live may not be better. Yet I won’t have the historical knowledge and perspective that makes South Dakota unbearable for me. After all, there’s some truth in the saying “ignorance is bliss.” I think being near my kids and granddaughter, I’m going to be blissful as can be.

So, best of luck, South Dakota. I couldn’t keep circling the drain with you.

What once you thought was a paradise is not just what it seemed
The more I look around I find, the more I have to fear

“Where Do We Go from Here?”, Chicago, Chicago II

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