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Inconsistency on education policy was one reason for Cory's party switch. Photo by Elliot Jordan.
Inconsistency on education policy was one reason for Cory's party switch. Photo by Elliot Jordan.

Hobgoblins in Politics

Jan 25, 2012

I used to be a Republican. In the heady wisdom of my philosophical twenties, I thought all politics boiled down to simple principles of limited government and liberty. The inconsistency of South Dakota Republicans on those principles caused me to re-examine my right-wing politics and opened the door to my becoming a Democrat.

Governor Mike Rounds started me down the leftward path. Several years ago, he was on public radio talking about the federal No Child Left Behind Act, of which I was not fond. I called in and asked the governor to enunciate a consistent Republican defense of a big federal intrusion into a local matter. The governor asked how anybody could be against improving education. He did not answer my question.

Not so long ago, Dennis Daugaard eschewed “mandates” and a “top-down approach” to government. In archetypical Republican terms that a younger conservative me would have loved, Daugaard said in 2010 that under his leadership, “the state will not dictate actions to school districts.” Now Governor Daugaard wants to impose a statewide program of teacher evaluation and merit bonus pay on the school districts.

The other day, my Democratic friend Rep. Frank Kloucek ran a bill by the House Commerce and Energy Committee in Pierre. Kloucek's bill would have cut the maximum length of non-compete clauses in half, from two years to one. The younger conservative me would have argued for doing away with non-compete clauses altogether. South Dakota is a “right-to-work” state. We don't let unions stop workers from doing the jobs they do best; why would we let former bosses keep good workers out of the labor force?

The Republican majority on the committee killed the bill. So much for the right to work.

Now the inconsistency of folks on the right doesn't prove the superior ideological purity of the folks on the left. I didn't bail on the GOP just because Mike Rounds dodged one question. South Dakota Republicans' current mistakes on education and labor policy don't mean Democrats get everything right (a couple of Dems on that House committee voted against Frank's non-compete bill, too).

But inconsistency was the hobgoblin of my young mind. It still is. Inconsistency caused me to question my faith in the claims of the right. It caused me to give the ideas of the left a fair hearing. And it caused me to admit that I'd been backing the wrong horses for the wrong reasons. 


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.


11:24 am - Wed, January 25 2012
Lee Schoenbeck said:
Cory -
Oh so much too comment on, but I will limit myself to two items:
First - NCLB was a big government boondoggle that no good conservative should ever support. I voted against the implementing legislation every time it came up in the senate. The strongest support came from the more liberal members of the senate. Bush got handed his head by Ted Kennedy in the NCLB negotiations, and most people forget that the end product (which you hold rightfully in contempt) is Ted Kennedy's brainchild.

Second, the non-compete clause bill of Frank's. there isn't much partisanship definition on this topic. I think a majority of the sponsors are GOP (!!), but while that defeats your point - I don't think it really matters. These contracts are voluntary - nobody has to sign one. they do protect intellectual property (that would be a property right thing), and provide a balance (there are time limits in current law) to limit their reach beyond reason. The alternative is to allow whole sale theft of client lists, business relationship,a nd investments - can't see how that is fair?
07:27 am - Thu, January 26 2012
dave tunge said:
What I find intriguing is that some folks need to put a label on themselves as being either Republican or Democrat. This, in many instances, is a defeating hand when playing high stakes politics that affect all citizens and taxpayers. Seems to me that this is as racially divisive as any ethnic prejudice..........but it ain't never gonna change and probably get worse.

I still enjoy the quote attributed to Churchill..........."if you're young and not liberal you have no heart. If you're old and not conservative you have no brain"
06:56 pm - Thu, January 26 2012
"nobody has to sign one..." at least not unless they plan to work in their field of expertise and every good employer in that field has decided to declare property rights over former employees.

Lee, can't we protect intellectual property with a more focused tool? Can't we go after genuine IP theft but still allow people to work in the fields they do best in?

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