The Morning After (Election Day)

Someone will win, someone will lose, and initiated measures will either pass or fail. NowVoting Booth that the election is over: the world is neither a better or worse place. The Sun will rise in the morning. Nothing has changed in the overall scheme. The happiness or relief sought from this election cycle has not, and will not come.

There has been a great deal of political wrangling over fixing the broken system, ousting corrupt politicians or bringing about dominance of one political party over the other. Prepare to be disappointed as this is not the first, or last election cycle where these things are on the ballot.

As time goes on, it’s clearer to me the system is not broken as much as we, the people are. Social media has become the dumping ground for political rants, threats and conspiracy theories. Friends attack each other, relatives issue ultimatums over family member allegiance to a politician or a cause. Made up statistics, unverified “news“ accounts related to history or political activity have rendered social media perhaps THE primary tool of misinformation rather than a source of entertainment. Unfortunately, politicians must use the same platform.

Terms such as misogynist, hate, corruption, liberal, conservative, fascist, patriot, traitor and others have definitions that are now fluid, changing with each generation and antifa-nov5sometimes with each new noteworthy event. If you don’t accept something or someone, you hate them. If you disrespect a woman you’re a misogynist. If you stick up for women’s rights you are feminist. If you support the president, you’re a fascist. If you are against the president, you’re a traitor. These things have nothing to do with politics or the political system but have more to do with people and are sometimes byproducts of media-hungry consumers waiting to be fed by antagonists. Our ability to influence others seems to be decreasing while our need to be heard by others is increasing. This noise is drowning out civility in our communities.

I ‘m not saying we are headed for civil war but we can certainly expect more civil and social dysfunction over our obsession with self-relevance on social media. Here are some points which could be important for surviving the effects of social media storms resulting from the midterm elections and leading up to the next election cycle:

  1. It’s OK if you don’t express your opinion publicly.
  2. It’s OK if you don’t react or respond publicly to someone else’s opinion.
  3. Neither democrats nor republicans are ruining the country.
  4. Different opinions are not wrong, they are just different.
  5. It’s OK (and encouraged) for you to become involved in government policy making.
  6. Arguing with others on social media does not constitute being involved.
  7. A Google search is not the same as research.
  8. Attacking your friends and family, especially publicly, will only create loneliness and isolation.
  9. Check social media post sources before you read them, believe them and especially before you share them.
  10. When in doubt, post about cats or children.

Political Corruption & Amendment W,

“In any case of a conflict between any provision of this Article and any other provision contained in this Constitution, the provisions of this Article shall control.”

Critical debate of the transparency and accountability of our government structures are exactly the conversations voters should be having with those you elect. It is fair and right for the citizens to demand a government they can trust. I wish that was the conversation we were having about Constitutional Amendment W. But it isn’t. Unfortunately, Constitutional Amendment W is not as much about accountability and ethical oversight for our government as it is about an outside group committed to selling an agenda. By Celebrities2using popular spokespeople, they hope that you won’t see the creation of an unelected, all-powerful board. By feeding off national partisan politics, they are hoping you won’t see all the problems that will be permanently written into our Constitution. And, by playing on your fears of out-of-control fraud, they hope you won’t pay attention to the massive increase in government spending.

A Massachusetts-based group called Represent US claims that Constitutional Amendment W would give the power back to the people. Wrong. Constitutional Amendment W gives power to professional campaigners by forcing an election every time any of the many details within the Amendment become outdated or the unintended consequences are realized. Campaign organizations, like Represent US, make millions promoting ridiculous measures across the country. Campaigning is an industry, and it is feeding on South Dakota, to the detriment of informed dialogue.

Celebrities 6I can’t help but take offense when people who couldn’t live further from the values of South Dakotans tell me the answer to our corrupt government is to give absolute authority over it to a Board with no oversight itself. And to give the Board guaranteed tax-payer funds that increases each year. Constitutional Amendment W would require the state to fund the Board at a pre-determined level without any say from the Legislature. What does this say about us? That we value a Board with absolute power over all levels of government more than we value educating our children or keeping our citizens healthy and safe.

The Rapid City Journal recently endorsed Constitutional Amendment W claiming in part that the State Government Accountability Board would be transparent because they are subject to open meeting laws. So is every level of government that they claim needs oversight. I’ve been unable to find, in the 8-page amendment, what guarantees this board is so ethical that it does not need to be subjected to checks and balances. Here’s an excerpt from the proposed amendment: “In any case of a conflict between any provision of this Article and any other provision contained in this Constitution, the provisions of this Article shall control.” This amendment literally overrides the South Dakota Constitution. I do not support the status quo, but this is serious overreach… all brought to you by celebrities and out of state interests.

Represent US has confused trust with agreement. Disagreement does not mean unethical action or behavior. It means we are having a thorough conversation about effective ethics and campaign reforms, where we agree on some things and disagree on others. Instead of letting South Dakotans’ work with our own system, they spend millions to promote a measure so they get their way regardless of negative impact to South Dakota.

Constitutional Amendment W gives power to an unelected Board to investigate citizens at every level of government, costs the taxpayers hundreds of thousands annually, and writes flawed legislation into our Constitution. We can do better. Please join me and others in voting NO on W.Vote No on w image

Campaign Over. Issue Settled

RPCCAfter several long months of information sharing, presenting, advocating and campaigning, the day has come and the outcome of the new arena vote is here. 17,000 citizens voted and approved the new arena by a 64% to 36% margin.

There have been literally hundreds of volunteers giving their time, talents and money to promote the new arena. VoteYesRapidCity started as a campaign slogan, but morphed into a movement. An idea. Perhaps a way of thinking about the future of Rapid City.

VoteYesRapidCity is, in fact a campaign committee that will file its final report with the state and officially dissolve. But we, as stakeholders of Rapid City should keep the momentum moving. We owe it to ourselves and future generations.

It is always more comforting to stick to the past and go through life with as few changes as possible. No one likes change…no one over 25 anyway. We have to acknowledge we are all aging and the current community leadership should not only have today’s needs in mind, but should have also a strategy for tomorrow. Humans are short-term beings with daily needs taking priority in our lives. Long-term thinking is not natural and not everyone is cut out for it.

Last night’s victory was not about an arena. It was about progress. The voters spoke loudly and clearly: they want change. They want us to be known as the community that thinks ahead and doesn’t seek to stay in the past.

Something I have been taught, something that has been modeled for me and something I hope to pass on to others is this: Attitude is everything!

Rapid City could use a different attitude. We need younger people on the school board, in the legislature, on the county commission, on the city council and yes, in the mayor’s office. We need people from all walks of life, of all ages to take Rapid City by the reins and ride it into the future!! This cannot be done by relying on retired folks or career politicians. We need you to be a community leader!

The requirements to be a community leader are fairly basic:

  1. Own Rapid City. I mean really own it. As if it were yours – because it is. Make it better, every day. It may only be smiling at someone, or it may be changing someone’s tire. It could be helping to recruit volunteers, or helping with a campaign or perhaps running for office. There’s a reason small business owners invest so much of themselves into the business: because they own it and its success or failure is a result of their efforts, skills, investments and their attitude.
  2. Show up. It is essential you make yourself available. Today, America is a nation of opinions. We take the time to share them on social media and take time to chastise others for theirs, but what good is it if we avoid the real responsibility of taking a stand and offering ourselves to the service of others. Being involved with your own blood, sweat and tears is hard when the cost/benefit ratio suggests you’re an idiot. Don’t over-think it. Show up. Serve.
  3. Set the standard. Nearly 100% of America is made up of people in communities like ours. If we focus on that fact and focus on raising the bar in our communities… we raise the bar in our nation. We can set community standards for who we are, how we communicate and how we feel about important issues. We need healthy differences of opinion in order to achieve the best plans. We must be future-focused. We must realize we are, like it or not, going to hand this nation over to people who are at this moment children. Our eyes should be open to the concept that communities produce candidates for local, county, state and national offices The power starts with the local community. The foundation of effective governance is local people, raised in an environment of service and strength.

Today, you have a right to be proud of yourselves. But come tomorrow – get back to work. There are new ideas, not yet developed. New plans, not yet made. And new people, not yet engaged.

Thank you to everyone who worked tirelessly to make the new arena a reality. The progress made would not have been accomplished without you. Thank you to the thousands of voters who participated in the process. And finally, a special thank you to my wife Shirley for enduring the last year of late nights, work on weekends, sometimes countless hours of answering question and concerns on social media or the phone. I would not be who I am or where I am without you.