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South Dakota Election Results and the Word ‘No’

We are not an adventuresome group. South Dakotans were predictable Tuesday night. We supported Kristie Noem again for the Congress. Chris Nelson and Kristi Fiegen were returned to the Public Utilities Commission. Mitt Romney won here, too, although Chris Nelson garnered several thousand more votes than he and Kristie Noem, making Mr. Nelson the most popular state wide candidate in this election.

Our frugal ways prevailed when it came to money. “No” to increasing the state sales tax to assist funding for K-12 education and Medicaid. “No” to an  admittedly old fashioned part of the state constitution dealing with mileage paid to legislators for their first arrival  and last departure from the legislative session. I think we have voted this down three or four times.

We did say “Yes” to changing the formula for transfering money from the state cement plant trust fund to the general fund, and “Yes” adding language to the constitution to make sure we will always have a balanced budget.

We said “No” to change the constitution allowing state corporations and the legislature some leeway in some business matters.

Two of the governor’s pet proposals went down in flames. We voted “NO”  to change the way teachers and principals are evaluated, compensated, and tenured. It lost by over 2 to 1. Another “No” to the idea of designating some of the contractor’s excise tax to large special development projects.

None of these results are surprising.  New ideas and different ways of doing things, are met with skepticism.

Maybe these issues were deeply flawed in concept and would have been bad for us. It will be interesting to see how our governor, legislature, school officials, and the medical community, affected by medicaid, will react to these defeats.

My guess is: twenty years from now we will still be discussing/complaining about the issues of teacher pay, education quality, outmigration, lack of real job opportunity, low pay, problems associated with too many poor, and the increase in obesity, diabetes, fetal alcohol, burdening our health care systems, and therefore ourselves.

Our state doesn’t like where we are; fortieth or lower in many things, but we lack the desire, imagination, and courage to try anything different. We want to believe the glass is half full, but we act as if it is half empty.

The majority of us are clearly happy to plod along doing our thing the way we always have, complaining all the time about lack of opportunity for ourselves and our children, our collective lack of wealth, and expensive medical care, to name three big issues.

Maybe we should reflect on the famous “Pogo” cartoon of many years ago. “Pogo” is standing in front of a mirror and says, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

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