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Civilized S.D. Politics
Aug 29, 2011
Like my friend Cory Heidelberger, I was delighted when South Dakota Magazine invited me to contribute a column. As instructed, I will tell you a little about myself. I grew up in Arkansas and went to graduate school in Southern California. I have been teaching at Northern State University since 1989.
I teach political science and philosophy. My field of research is Biopolitics, the intersection of biology and political theory. I recently edited a book, Darwinian Conservatism. I write a regular column for the Aberdeen American News, and a blog called South Dakota Politics.
I will write here on state and national politics and occasionally on scientific questions and energy policy. If my friend Cory writes from the left, I once took a survey that identified me as a conservative with libertarian tendencies. That’s about right.
I think the federal government is spending way beyond its means and that our welfare state in its current form is unsustainable. I believe in government but I also believe that power always involves temptation and corruption. Accordingly I believe in limited government. I like the Constitution just fine and the Declaration of Independence even better. I am prolife because I believe that all human beings are created equal, male and female, rich and poor, black and white, born and unborn.
On the other hand I am, somewhat reluctantly, opposed to capital punishment. I am in favor of legal, same sex marriage. I believe firmly in Darwinian evolution and use that theory in my teaching and scholarship.
One more thing that Cory and I share is a love of the Rushmore State. Shortly after I came to South Dakota, a debate was held on the Northern campus. Prolife conservative Phyllis Schlafly debated Sarah Weddington, a lawyer who argued Roe v. Wade before the Supreme Court. Sitting just in front of me was a tall, lean man with several children around him. He was not prochoice on abortion. Whenever Schlafly finished a comment, his large hands would come together in thunderous claps of applause. When Sarah Weddington spoke, those same hands would grip one another and, I am not kidding, I could see his jaw clinch. However, despite his visible passion, he never interrupted a single word that Ms. Weddington said.
South Dakota is an altogether civilized place. One purpose of this column will be to celebrate its virtues.