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So You Think I'm a Leftist
Aug 24, 2011
South Dakota Magazine has invited me to contribute a “From the Left” column. I am honored to answer that call... but I wonder: Is there a “left wing” in our state? Calling a fellow South Dakotan a “liberal” feels like calling Sioux Falls “the big city.”
If South Dakota has a left-wing, I wonder: do I really represent it? I oppose Governor Daugaard’s Large Project Fund because it prioritizes corporate welfare over education. Some folks consider education a leftist fetish (the poppycock! you hear comes from William F. Buckley’s ghost). But I’m just as cranky about corporate welfare because it interferes with the free market.
I oppose the Keystone oil pipelines less out of fear of global warming (come January, I favor global warming) and more out a belief that South Dakotans’ property rights ought never be taken away by a foreign company, not even a nice polite company from Canada.
I support building more wind farms not just because wind power pollutes less, but because wind power could make South Dakotans rich and self-reliant. I oppose the No Child Left Behind Act not just because George W. Bush signed it, but because it defies the very principles I hear from Republicans that big government shouldn’t be meddling in local issues like education. And No Child Left Behind is one big-government program that I have yet to see do any South Dakota child or teacher any good.
Even in my support for universal single-payer health insurance, I groove to good capitalist arguments. Private health insurance creates friction in the labor market that prevents people from taking entrepreneurial risks (you want to leave your office job, start your own shop, and buy your own health insurance? Yikes!). A single-payer system, like George McGovern’s “Medicare for Everyone,” pay health care costs more efficiently and free up more resources for production and spending in the broader economy.
I take a fair share of left-wing positions, but I can take them for right-wing reasons. And left or right matters much less to me than figuring out what policies are good for South Dakota. If loving South Dakota makes me a lefty, then I’m a lefty. I’ll be proud to bear that banner in this corner of the South Dakota Magazine website.
Cory Allen Heidelberger writes the Madville Times political blog. He grew up on the shores of Lake Herman. He studied math and history at SDSU and information systems at DSU, and is currently teaching French at Spearfish High School. A longtime country dweller, Cory is enjoying "urban" living with his family in Spearfish.