Monday, November 24, 2014

I'm Sensing A "Youth Movement" Emerging In Black Hills Political Circles. The Rest Of SD Should Take Notice.

     Just met with a small group of bright and motivated young professionals in downtown Rapid and came away mighty impressed.  Two were lawyers trained at one of the top law schools in the country, the third owns a small business.  All was casual and off-the-record, so no names nor genders for now, but I'm sure you'll hear plenty from these folks--and many like them--before too much longer.
     Though I wouldn't call what they're doing a crusade, it seems pretty clear to me that a certain amount of restlessness is growing among the politically attuned of their generation of South Dakotans. Though they tempermentally gravitate toward the Democratic Party, they're plenty frustrated by the inability of Dems to get it together and become a political force of some consequence in this state.  In fact, a reaction to my broadside against west-river Democrats in the RC Journal last week prompted one of them to contact me and ask for a meeting. And though they don't particularly reject Republicanism, they're wary of a political future in a South Dakota that is overwhelmingly dominated by a single party and the inevitable stasis that follows.
     Self-defined and -described as "progressives," they have a passion for South Dakota but are put off by what they see as a "culture of complacency" here.   They worry about a future for themselves and their families in a state where public education is so undervalued that it stands out as the place with the lowest-paid teachers in America; where we're net exporters of college-educated residents; where a chronic shortage of skilled and educated workers who appear to shun us hampers our economic growth prospects (Forbes just ranked us 45th in the country on that score); and where our state's elected officials are now scrambling to explain to us that years of mounting neglect have created a highway system suddenly in need of $500 million in order to bring it up to the standards that South Dakota must maintain in order to sustain its economic viability.
     Like me, they're concerned by the fact that the last election seems like a resounding success for the status quo.  And also like me, they're exasperated by the inability of the opposition party, the Democrats, to get its vision (if it even has a vision) of a different political modus operandi  across to voters. These folks are frustrated, they're restless, they're well-educated, and they're ready to work. Some stirrings of organization among them are occurring, a development that I intend to follow.


  1. Follow and blog for us! I'm very eager to connect with these activists and see what they have planned. Are they willing to work with Democrats, if Dems can get their poop in a group?

  2. I think they're for real but will stand aside and see what emerges for the time being. Don't mean to be coy, just taking a "wait and see" posture for now.

  3. I assign no blame for cautious reporting. I'm very interested to see what direction these budding activists want to take to realize their general goals.

  4. I find it very unfortunate that young progressives in Rapid City feel that they have to remain anonymous. It reminds me of 2008 when I questioned working for local Dem. candidates who felt they couldn't afford (politically) to support Obama. It may be a political reality, but it is a sad one.

    1. I appreciate the sentiment, Mr. Newton, but hasten to add that they haven't chosen to remain anonymous. It was my decision not to identify them, mainly because there were no "on-the-record, off-the-record" stipulations ahead of time. I have no doubt they'll surface soon enough.

  5. Thank you, John, for believing in the ability of young progressives to help create the sorts of communities that will drive our economy and quality of life for the better in Rapid City and across the state and reservations. And, like usual, thank you for representing the sort of ethos many of us grew up seeing from Republicans and Democrats in this state and who we looked up to. I hope we can do likewise.