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.