In 1960, Sen. Barry Goldwater wrote the book, “The Conscience of a Conservative,” which helped define conservatism and set the stage for the Reagan revolution in the 1980s.
Things go in cycles and it’s now evident that we must again define the term “conservative.” So consider: What policies do you think of when you use the term “conservative?” Tax cuts, less government, traditional values, families over big corporations, right to life, personal freedom?
While you read this post give it some thought.
I can tell you I’ve given it some thought. I’ve been thinking and working the conservative cause since listening to Rush Limbaugh in the tractor working summer fallow north of Eureka as a teenager in the 1980s, continuing in College Republicans at SDSU, a few years as Executive Director of the Minnehaha County Republican Party in Sioux Falls, work with a number of South Dakota campaigns, Federalist Society President at USD Law School, time in Florida working on education reform at the DOE under Jeb Bush, over 15 years talking to business people, ranchers and families as an attorney in Spearfish, and the last two years as State Representative from Lawrence County, arguably the most conservative district in South Dakota. (God’s country.)
Most recently I was ranked the #1 conservative in South Dakota by CPAC, which is the gold standard in monitoring voting records of politicians throughout the nation. The conservative message is right, conservative policies work, and people are better off when government is limited. Those who know history, put logic over emotion, and value intellectual honesty over ideology and raw power politics know it.
Believe it or not, some in our state are trying to re-define conservative to mean ever-growing government spending and never cutting taxes. This pleases their business and PAC donors who love the cozy status quo, helps them bank money for re-election campaigns, allows Pierre power players to direct your money to programs of their choosing, and prioritizes the state general fund over families and taxpayers.
Some call this being a “RINO” (Republican In Name Only), because if you read the Republican platform, it’s clear that making big government the priority misses the mark. I don’t like a lot of name-calling, but for simplicity’s sake, I’ll use that term below.
Currently led by Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, who likes to call conservatives names like “crazy” or “unusual fringe” because it’s easier than having an ideological argument on the merits, most RINOs voted against every tax cut we tried to pass this session, including three separate bills to cut the sales, food and gas taxes. My prior posts on Facebook have shown the vote totals. RINOs also voted against the only bill that would’ve provided meaningful protections for workers from unjust and intrusive Covid vaccine mandates without burdensome forms or religious tests.
Massive new big government daycare and housing programs were also passed, over the objections of most conservatives, and in the case of daycare without proper legislative approval. In Senate State Affairs, where it died 8-1, the only person who voted to cut the sales tax was Democrat Troy Heinert. All Republicans followed Lee’s lead and killed it.
In South Dakota in 2022, with a “Republican” supermajority and unprecedented surpluses of your money sent to Pierre, you’ve got to start playing BINGO if you want a tax cut.
Twenty years ago, good Republicans would’ve united against this agenda, if Democrats proposed it. I know, because I was there, in the trenches. Now, the Democrats are basically extinct in South Dakota – mostly because they’re not needed.
A few days ago, “South Dakota Strong,” a PAC started by Sen. Schoenbeck and funded by wealthy donors who should find better places for their money, sent out a bogus “drain the swamp” negative attack mailer falsely claiming certain conservative legislators were for tax increases. It’s laughable, and was obviously done only to create a preemptive smoke screen to help RINO-approved and funded candidates win elections in primaries where people want to vote conservative.
This confusion must end. The people of South Dakota deserve to be informed about who is and who is not a conservative. Go to http://ratings.conservative.org/states/SD to see for yourself. Of course it isn’t the only metric to judge a legislator, but it’s a good start if you care about conservatism. As you can see, the current Senate President Pro Tempore, who’s facing a strong primary challenge of his own, has a lifetime rating of “F.” So pardon me if I laugh when he calls others crazy people or sends out postcards trying to tell anybody what’s “conservative.”
For further discussion about the conservative cause, feel free to call or DM me on Facebook any time, because as the ad says, “I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.”