I swear I live in a place where stupidity and greed are viewed as virtues…
In South Dakota, we haven’t been totally swamped by political ads. Presidential candidates certainly aren’t going to waste any money here. Hell will freeze over before a Democratic presidential candidate wins South Dakota. However, South Dakota is getting to be known for corny, ridiculous political ads for in-state battles. Jeff Barth, a Democrat who was running for South Dakota’s lone House seat, had an ad go viral on YouTube this spring. In the ad, Barth walks along while a series of corny props show up in his path, including a gun that Barth picks up and fires. Barth did end up losing.
The House race is between Kristi Noem, the Republican (of course) incumbent, and Matt Varilek, Democrat. Noem had her own ad go viral this week, a ridiculous ad that makes all of South Dakota look like a bunch of dumb hicks. In the ad, Noem compares her experiences in South Dakota, winning awards from the state soybean council and working on a farm, to Varilek, who is apparently wasting his time traveling the world, getting graduate degrees, and working for the United Nations. Her point? To supposedly make Varilek look like he’s out of touch, I guess…for you see, here in South Dakota, if you travel the world, get a graduate degree, and work for the U.N., it evidently makes you uppity and out of touch with “real” South Dakotans.
Don’t ask what I think of the “real” South Dakotan. I’m sitting here watching football tonight, and there have been a number of political ads, including more for Kristi Noem. The talking point for Repub political candidates in the state? Stopping “Obama and EPA regulations” that evidently are killing the state. It’s not just Noem that has used the supposed evils of the EPA in attack ads against a Democratic opponent. I just saw an ad for Kristi Fiegen, an incumbent with the Public Utilities Commission, that also used the evil EPA as a reason why South Dakotans should vote for her. After all, EVERYONE knows that when you control the mighty South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, you control the EPA, and the world. Vote for Fiegen!! Otherwise the evil EPA and their regulations will ruin South Dakota!!
Everyone needs a boogeyman, I guess, and for Republicans of all flavors in South Dakota, it seems like the EPA is somehow the boogeyman de jour. After all, it’s more important for farmers and industry in South Dakota to make an extra buck, than it is to protect the air, water, and land that our children will depend upon. I’m young enough that I guess I don’t understand when the terms “environment” or “conservation” became dirty words to Republicans. For god’s sake, it was Nixon who established the EPA. It was Nixon who established the Endangered Species Act. It was Nixon who signed the Clean Air Act. Yes, public pressures at the time were important in moving Nixon to establish a number of environmental programs, but Republicans as a whole USED to believe in environmental and conservation issues.
Why have Republicans become so averse to supporting environmental issues? When did things start to turn? The naive side of me can’t understand why environmental and conservation issues ARE political issues. The naive side of me can’t understand how ANY party, how any human being, can be so unconcerned about the world our children will live in.
However, the naive side of me is dwarfed by my cynical side. The cynical side knows the reason. People are inherently selfish SOBs, so much so, that their short-term pursuit of the almighty dollar is more important to them than what kind of world they leave their children. As with every other issue in America, it’s been branded as a black-or-white issue…it’s either economic growth, or environmental conservation.
I do find it rather pathetic to sit here tonight and watch commercials, where South Dakota politicians feel that opposing the EPA, an agency charged with PROTECTING the health of our citizens, is a winning play for getting votes. Are South Dakotans really that gullible? Are they really that stupid? Given how South Dakotans typically vote, it’s pretty obvious what the answer is.