In just over 2 weeks I will put South Dakota in my rear view mirror for the very last time. For some people, leaving this state would be a sad event. For me it will be like being set free from a prison sentence that lasted 16 years. I moved here with no preconceived notions of what I was in for, looking forward instead to a new challenge in a new place. What I found though was a state that seemingly took pride in being the Webster's definition of an oxymoron.
- Where else can one find a group of individuals that tout the family and family values on one hand but in another seem to take pride in underfunding their educational system?
- Where else can one find a state that takes pride in their "business friendly" environment but yet ignores that fact that almost no businesses are willing to relocate here? We even advertise how little we pay our workers as if it is a badge of honor.
- Where else (other than the South) can one find a group of people that tout their moral values in one breath while legislating away the happiness of a whole class of their citizens in another breath especially when it comes to marriage equality and basic human rights?
- Where else can someone who believed that they were a moderate Reagan Republican, someone who voted Republican their whole adult life, leave a state just 16 short years later as a disillusioned Independent with a total disdain for the party that they once loved?
- Where else can one find a state were the term RINO used often and is even more despised than the term Liberal and usually just as undefined?
- Where else can one find a group of people so against government interference and taxation all while being one of the biggest welfare states in the country, gladly taking in many more government dollars than they contribute?
Despite the above, I can thank South Dakota and her outspoken religious right for one thing. I moved here as an indifferent Christian and will be leaving it more sure than ever that there is no higher power. I do now hold one strong belief when it comes to religion, I believe that it is the root cause of much of the world's problems and that fundamentalism is not just a Muslim thing.
So where do I go now?
I could say that I am heading to some wonderful place where all the problems I experienced in South Dakota would not exist and how it is some wonderful political paradise. That wouldn't be true.
Ohio, the place of my birth and the place where most of my beliefs were born, is just as messed up in many ways as is South Dakota. Ohioans for the most part have many of the same problems and concerns as folks do here but with one major exception. The 2 party system, while nothing to brag about anywhere, is actually alive and well in Columbus so all citizens at least have a voice. Heck, sitting Presidents and Presidential candidates actually visit the state from time to time and truly feel the need to pander to our needs in search of our mighty electoral votes!
Unfortunately in Pierre where Democrats are all but non-existent, it seems the biggest issue is not necessarily doing what is best for the residents but in determining who can come up with the most ridiculous legislation to determine who is more Conservative or who isn't Conservative enough. While in the national political arena, South Dakota isn't even an afterthought except to mock every once in awhile.
Going forward I am not sure whether I will continue here or not. I do want to thank the few people that have chosen to read what I have written since my first blog, "The South Dakota Moderate" starting back in 2005. It's been a hobby that more than anything let me vent my frustrations and if you found anything worthwhile in what I wrote than I am happy. If you haven't you probably aren't reading this anyway but either way it's been fun.