Erika Unger calls South Dakota home. Most of her family is here. But Unger is not. She is in Denver, practicing law and raising kids in a place she’s not ashamed of.
Unger writes about a discussion she had with fellow ex-pats about South Dakota’s social and political sins, the mad legislation and bigotry we peddle that overwhelms their powerful love for South Dakota and drives them away:
The group of us who came together in the little sliver of internet on my Facebook page comprised a generation of successful millennials that elude you. We’re the ones you beg to stay with speeches at our commencements; the ones you try and lure back with cheesy, outdated social media campaigns.
We know the benefits of living in South Dakota. We know and love the people there. We know you have jobs. We know that our Denver, Chicago and D.C. mortgages could buy us beautiful houses on the Missouri, in the Hills or on acres and acres of land. We know how awesome it would be to be in closer proximity to our families and for our children to better know their aunts, uncles and grandparents.
But we stay away [link added; Erika Unger, “But When Are You Coming Back?” South Dakota Democratic Party blog, 2016.02.17].
Unger’s agony supports David Newquist’s well-developed theory of flight from fraudulent democracy. People of good conscience like Unger and Miranda Gohn choose not to bear constant political conflict (not to mention low wages) when they can simply step across the border and enjoy substantially greater freedom. Why be a dissident when you can defect to Denver?
Dissidents and defectors—I was watching MacGyver last night (even my daughter recognizes it’s bad TV, but it’s mostly child appropriate, promotes effective use of Swiss Army knives, and helps us play digital archeologists, unearthing the cultural vibe of the 1980s) and was struck by the analogy between South Dakota and the Soviet Union. Faced with a powerful and corrupt one-party regime that has long abandoned its own ideals in favor of raw power and oppression, some dissidents remain to speak truth to power and challenge the Politburo. Others see too much risk and too little reward in reforming South Dakota from within and defect.
Dissent or defect—I make no moral judgment on the relative merits of each choice. I do not view Unger’s choice to defect as an indictment of my choice to stay and dissent, nor vice versa. I dissent for the same moral reasons that Unger defects, reasons that should make South Dakota’s leaders hang their heads in shame:
We left because it’s easier not to deal with those explanations and difficult situations. Or worse, we left because actually experiencing the effects of this ruthless discrimination and hateful rhetoric hurt us deeply.
Bottom line: we left because it’s easier to come back and relish in the things we love and return to the comfort of other places we now call home, places that don’t use twisted ideas of religious freedom and “conservative values” to perpetuate discrimination and hate of things they don’t understand.
South Dakota, we love you and we miss you. And you’re right: we’ve changed. But we’re not coming back until you [Unger, 2016.02.17].
South Dakota has no greater asset than the people we bear and raise, the people who love this state. And we are driving that asset (asset? heck—humans we love and who love us) away. That didn’t work well for the Soviet Union. It’s not helping Putin’s Russia. Driving away the people we love will only hurt South Dakota.
Нет! Просто будьте осторожны, поскольку они могут обвинять вас в повороте Южная Дакота в социалистическом государстве. Это сравнение может обернуться.
I wasn’t born here. I chose to live here and I also choose to dissent. I can certainly understand and won’t condemn people who feel they have to leave because I left my home state because it no longer felt like home. Believe it or not, when I moved here five years ago, there were still reasonable people in the GOP and in the Legislature. I believe that as gerrymandering post 2010 took effect things got worse and the reasonable people were either primaried, term-limited, or chose not to run for re-election.
When I say reasonable, this is reason compared to Wisconsin, right when Scott Walker took office and the far-right took over what was a fairly progressive state and we all know what he’s done to that state. That brand of conservatism hadn’t taken over the state legislature in SoDak yet.
Yes, South Dakota has problems. I’m not going to argue that one party rule is bad, either. It’s as if the only way we can seriously voice our displeasure is to circulate petitions and put measures on ballots or refer laws to the ballot to undo the damage that these ideologues are doing to the state.
All that said, the Soviet Union came down from within. And if we want things to change here, those of us who are still here and have chosen to make our home here have to keep pushing for it and speaking up. We may not be able to convince the hardcore, far-right ideologues, but I still believe that there are reasonable people who are willing to listen and learn. There are people in this state who may not agree with me but still are decent, kind and realize that compassion and being a decent human being trumps being right. Those are the people we need to win over.
I love your thoughts Kathy. We now need to spread the important message of amendment T (anti gerrymandering) to all of South Dakota. This is a very difficult issue to explain, but, it is imperative that it succeeds, to bring democracy back to South Dakota.
Время осторожности пошло. Революция, да! Вперёд, товарищи! Всегда вперёд!
Looks like Ivana Kuturnutzov has infiltrated the board here and the KGB is taking over.
South Dakota hasn’t been safe for Democrats since somebody brought down George Mickelson’s plane.
Far higher proportions of the most productive residents and businesses are fleeing blue states. Perhaps those who leave a state like SD are outliers on the drama queen scale. ;-)
Товарищ Cory Вы можете которых проверить электронную почту
Really, Scott? Where are all those productive influxers in South Dakota?
Nobody brought down Mickelson’s plane. Conspiracy theories aren’t driving people from South Dakota. Real legislators, real bad bills and bad laws, and bad attitudes are doing it.
So an outlier writes a manifesto about leaving South Dakota. I’m an import, been here nearly 26 years. I can go on all day about why I love it here. Or, I could write something similar about why I don’t go back to the liberal state of Minnesota where I was born and raised. If Unger feels that strongly about this great state, then she is being honest with herself and made a choice. That’s admirable, but I don’t need to read about it.
What’s your point,Jeff?
South Dakota is the land of earth haters where denying the Anthropocene is a rite of passage.
My two daughters and their mother hate Rapid City anxiously awaiting their house to sell so they can flee.
Mike, my point is if you don’t like something, get involved and do something to change it. Writing a blog isn’t going to accomplish anything. Heck, I don’t agree with Cory (very often), but respect that he’s running for office. If I wanted to change Minnesota, I’d live there and try to make changes. I’m happy where I am, so I don’t need to blab to like-minded followers about why I’m not back in MN. I don’t believe for a second she’s in any kind of agony.
Your point is meaningless, Endrizzi. Writing a blog drove Sioux Falls to install snow gates, writing a blog is driving a South Dakota governor to listen to cannabis advocates, writing a blog has driven Democrats from South Dakota. Writing a blog is convincing the West to rewild vast tracts of land. I could go on and likely will.
Unger’s column has generated a hundred and some comments most agreeing with her frustration.
Mr. Kurtz, you telling me it’s meaningless means little. I’m sharing my opinion, and trying to clarify if for those that have asked. You’ve shown time and again my opinion means nothing to you, so I’ll return the favor.
Obese people live in South Dakota because they blend in.
Again, of course like-minded followers will agree with her. If those that agree are in SD, are they actively trying to change things, or are they just complaining? Each and every state in the nation loses or gains people based on beliefs….belief that a particular job is better, belief in a general political position, belief in prairie vs. woods…whatever. People make choices, they need to live with their choices. Did she leave because of policies or did she leave for a job?
Colorado is one of the healthiest states with myriad opportunities for recreation. South Dakota has Betty Olson.
But you gotta admit finding a bag is so much easier in MN init’ Jeff? ;)
Cory, your last sentence doesn’t talk about people that have moved here and grown to love South Dakota. Unger has an opinion and talks about a “mass exodus”. I’m not sure if we have a mass exodus….
Jenny, you’ve lost me…I may need to put “finding a bag” into Urban Dictionary…
“But you gotta admit finding a bag is so much easier in MN init’ Jeff? ;)”
Finding a bag of money? Gold? leprechaun?
Democratic voter registration has been plummeting since George Mickelson’s funeral. Mass exodus is when you leave the cathedral for the desert.
I believe I understand what you are saying. Utopia is a state of mind to some degree and if you don’t like it just don’t sit there and complain about it do something right?
People tend to gravitate towards what and whom they feel more comfortable with?
Libs are invading red states to turn them blue,once they get a fairminded Scotus to remove wingnut gerrymandered districts that tip the elections in their favor even though they are grossly outvoted at election time.
Lynn, yes. I understand Unger’s point. She even admits she’s changed. SD hasn’t changed as much as she thinks, and as we all grow older, we understand things more. As the US moves to the left, SD has remained pretty solid to the right of center. She doesn’t like the “feel” of SD so she’s gone.
SDSU would support that the exodus of young adults in this study in 2008.
There’s a pretty good table using USCB studies in this 2014 analysis of migration patterns in and out of South Dakota. It’s on page 13 and shows that in recent years we’re net importers of people with high school diplomas and less, net exporters of those with college degrees.
Make that page 12
Thanks for the data. I believe much of this movement (both in and out) is driven by jobs, or lack of jobs. We don’t have enough jobs for all the graduates with four-year degrees. Check out the discussion pertaining to Amendment R.
On page 2-4 under Key Findings: Population and Labor Force here is an alarming statistic.
The number of older workers (55+) increased by 54,300 while the number of 25 to 54-year olds decreased by 7,500 and the number of 16-to 24-year olds decreased by 5,300. The share of older workers in the South Dakota workforce increased from one in seven at the end of the 1990s to one in four in 2012-13.
From Growth and Change in South Dakota Labor Markets.
We are employing an aging workforce.
South Dakota being a red state, as in communist red, does have a lot of truth to it. That is because the liberal tax and spend corporate capitalists (Chamber of Commerce) run it. They want people to come here so that they can get their hands on their money. It is those Chamber crony capitalists to whom Unger is trying to play with this threat to let boys go into girls bathrooms or else… Daugaard, the current political leader of the cronies, appears to be taking the bait.
J.L. Atyeo: “South Dakota lost 400 farms in the last year, according to the latest numbers from @usda_nass.”
Ms Unger didn’t care for the wingnut war on women which has gotten steadily worse over the years, How many new teachers are flocking to Dakota to take advantage of the nation’s lowest pay for the last thirty years? How many people of the party of personal responsibility crow about how responsible Dakota’s crony wingnut crooks are?
Women used to be able to exercise their constitutional rights to control their bodies without unnecessary exams and ultrasounds and delays and lectures from anti-abortion extremists.
Sounds like paradise to Attila the Hun.
It is funny how people that can’t get their way have to take potshots from afar. Max exodus from South Dakota, mass boycotts of South Dakota. You liberals are so full of yourselves that you need to keep spouting fairytales and then get praise from fairytale believers to make yourselves feel justified and right. Many have moved to South Dakota and visit South Dakota over the exact things that you say keep people away. The GOP common sense approach has South Dakota appealing to me and many others!
Madman and Larry, you are quoting stats that are pretty normal for the entire nation!
I’m barely a county and a half away from Attila’s paradise.
Stu, do the research read the information presented, in fact the labor material is especially interesting.
Study the trends of the nation and you will see this is not normal. The silver tsunami isn’t supposed to strike until 2020 when it was predicted that 25% of the force will be 55+. South Dakota already has been there since the late 2000’s. We are at least 15 years ahead of the national trend. The data put out by the labor material study is from 2011 which cites that South Dakota began to experience this trend during 2000-2010. From looking at charts and graphs it looks like around 2004-6 is the start of the 55+ growth.
Stum and jeff-u r full of sheit.
I did what erika did after professional school years ago. My eldest son was born at Rose Hospital on Colo. Blvd and we flipped a home on the front range taking advantage of doubling populations attracted to the mountains. RC will someday soon BOOM like Colorado towns did dramatically.
She may return one day and grace the state with valuable bigger city training and experience. Maybe even run for office. By then kids of rigid republicans will still do the same ole’ sheit parents like spencer, stum and jeff do, who will troll and obstruct like them and the Fox-washed GOP.
Erika can perhaps assist her milennials away from smug AGEISM too. Not understanding the culture war it has taken since the early 60s to bring SD to be positioned to swing progressive as the right wing stalwarts pass on, ignores the long game. Albeit a difficult vision to master.
Our country needs the services of a dedicated and patriotic group of political homesteaders, a Democratic diaspora, if you will. What would be the number of Democrat voters that it would take to turn South Dakota to a solidly Blue state? It can’t be many, perhaps a few thousand. Now think of the excess number of Democrat voters that exist in states like Massachusetts and New York. If we could entice some of those folks to move to South Dakota, it could do a great service both to our State and the Nation.
I left in 2001. It was a matter of economic need, not disgust with the political/social climate. I made about 50 percent more just by moving into the same position here that I had in South Dakota. Liz resigned her position in Rapid City, tired of fighting against racism and supervisors that were Hitlerian, and found a better position at higher pay here. She eventually snagged a better job, something that probably was not going to be available to her in South Dakota.
I gave up a school board position in mid-term, which I really had a hard time doing. I loved the school board. I never would back away from the awful political situation there. I loved the fight, but I realize not everyone wants to fight all the time to keep from going backwards faster. When I left I was trying to fight what Janklow was doing to education system, which mirrored what he did to the environment. The mess in education funding and teacher shortages you are dealing with today was created during the second Janklow administration.
Amen, Mr. Pay.
A brilliant guy I knew at (redacted) University, a probability and statistics freak, did a statistical study of politicians who had died in plane crashes. This guy was quite gifted with numbers, I think he’s an actuary now for an insurance company. Anyway, he did this on the back of several napkins at a bar one evening, and determined that prominent Democrats were much more likely to die in plane crashes than prominent Republicans. The p value was highly significant, something like >0.001. He didn’t include prominent Democrats who had not yet been elected to an office who died in plane crashes (such as Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. and John F. Kennedy, Jr. for example) or near misses (Ted Kennedy and Birch Bayh, for example). It was pretty interesting.
A few weeks later, he stopped me in the hallway and reported that he had gone back and analyzed the deceased Democrats on a scale of conservative to liberal/populist, and determined that the more liberal/populist they were (Hale Boggs and Paul Wellstone, for example), there was increased risk, beyond that of random chance, to die in a plane crash.
So the take-home messages were 1) that Democrat politicians were more likely to die in plane crashes than Republicans, beyond what would be expected by random chance, and 2) among Democrats, the more liberal/populist you were, the more likely to die in a plane crash. I don’t think he ever published that. He was a flighty guy who had simply crunched the numbers in order to satisfy himself that something he had always suspected was probably true.
I’ve always regretted that I never asked him to crunch the numbers on Republicans who died mysteriously in beds that weren’t their own, but that’s a study for some future genius, when the flags return to full staff.
Thank you, Mr. Koiman. How nice to see someone with the huevos to use his real name at DFP.
Except, that’s not your real name is it.
Oh, and “Hal?” It’s Democratic.
Republicants refers to the other major political party.
An aside: Jack Marken was an imbecile.
South Dakota is home to five generations of my family. I have two grown children. One lives here, the other fled to California ten years ago. Recently, my son considered moving back because he wanted his son to grow up closer to family. I talked him out of it for a myriad of reasons. The main one being, I do not want my grandchildren growing up in a place that does not believe in education. After the voters of this state saw fit to give Mike Rounds a six year job in the Senate and, after the ruthlessness shown by our legislators in this latest legislative session, I am ready to take my fifty-something year old arse and head west too. My home has become “a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”
Jeff, I dispute your assertion that writing a blog isn’t going to do anything. Writing a blog has made me a better writer, educated me about South Dakota, connected me with lots of new friends, changed and brought into practical focus my definitions of “neighbor” and “community,” and led me to the point where I feel qualified to serve in the Legislature better than the man I aspire to replace. And that’s just for me. I know my blog has done things for others. It doesn’t do enough—it does not make all the changes we need, because here we are still talking about the changes we still need—but it does something. The blog educates, it connects, and it forms the basis for action for change.
I’ve always have had a love/hate relationship with South Dakota, my mother always said it was “I love to hate South Dakota” which maybe partially true.
Like Cory, I stay because the fight isn’t complete, a fight that I have fought for some 60 years. However small, I feel my work against discrimination and prejudice has made me a better person and perhaps even influenced others.
South Dakota isn’t going to receive the education it needs in my life time, but I know there are others in line to fight the good fight
Rapid City is a cesspool of racism and hate and damn proud of it. It is not overt but subtle
The last couple of days I was helping a friend weave his way through criminal court, upon entering the courtroom I immediately noticed the room was filled with almost all Indians. Are Indians the only ones that commit crimes in Rapid City or are they caught in the net of profiling and locked in the court system where they will never be free from jail time and mounting court costs and fees.
When I called it the brown court, I pretty much pissed off the bailiff and he kept his eye on me the whole time I was there.
Yes, I’ll stay. I have friends in Rapid City of all races and I’m not going to let a few bastards get me down.
This reminds me of investing: When things appear the bleakest is the time to get in there and get you some. These crazy legislative decisions must frustrate swing voters not just progressives. Accept the market and buy an index fund. Moderate candidates could push out the looney right and bring some sanity back with a legislature reflective of the state. Everybody wants to make a killing in the stock market but how many times does Buffet and Bogle have to say just buy the S&P 500. Don’t be a day trader.
I am familiar with investing in the market with looking for gains in the long term and not focusing on the short term volatility. The problem is that this has been trending for years and has really gained momentum this year with a group specifically targeted. That group is the most vulnerable in terms of having the least financial and political resources to defend itself or help make a market correction.
I suspect and very much hope all of these bills will either be killed, vetoed or lose in court eventually but I highly expect knowing what is driving these bills there will be another version brought forth in 2017. Predictably they will be crafted from a different angle stating various reasons why we need them but what is really behind the drive for them will be the same.
A major problem is that our system here in South Dakota does not have balance. It is too early to tell if there will be a slight correction but one of the over all counter balances in the system is completely broken and has sabotaged itself that it will be a long time before it has it’s own market correction.
Jeff,sneak over to the War Toilet and tell Powers his blog won’t do anything. See how fast you are deleted and banned. Powers is not the least bit tolerant of dissent. He is a wingnut,they are hardwired that way.
Stu’s “potshots from afar” and continued use of the blanket term “you liberals” shows the exclusionary bunker mentality that keeps South Dakota from offering the full economic and cultural opportunities that people like Unger leave to find elsewhere. South Dakota, like America, should belong to everyone, and everyone should have an opportunity to critique and improve the culture. Choosing to live elsewhere does not take away a person’s authority to critique her home state; we should recognize that choice as the most damning critique.
Woe unto us if we become (remain?) Stu’s regressive conservative Whitopia. South Dakota will grow only through the openness and acceptance of diversity of which Senator Hunhoff spoke in his floor speech against HB 1008. Stu, your exclusionary attitude stands in the way of South Dakota’s general welfare. Work with us (not just us liberals, not just us teachers, not just us Democrats, not just us democrats, but us South Dakotans), not against us.
My gut feeling our state is not nearly as conservative as this legislature. There are fascinating things happening in science like Epigenetics which explains the nuts and bolts of genetic change and must scare the pants off these guys. Fundamentalists (the root problem here) are going to be pushed out or die off it’s just a matter of time though meanwhile we are forced to listen to their swan song. Think of how far we’ve come.
“My gut feeling our state is not nearly as conservative as this legislature.”
I’d agree. Many factors contribute to what is coming out of Pierre, Apathy, people are so consumed in their own lives that they have no desire to put themselves thru it, can’t afford it and feel so far removed from the process. Many reasons.
As a Colorado native, I miss some of the majestic beauty the Rocky Mountains provided. For example watching the sun rise over the prairie from eastern slope of Pikes Peak, or watching South Park (yes, it is a real place) come to life after a long winter’s nap. It is a beauty that can’t be captured by a camera, but must be experienced.
What was happening at the bottom of Barr trail was disgusting beyond imagination. Young women getting an abortion, because being pregnant doesn’t fit their social status. Families were the parents work 80 hours a week or more only to be tossed on the street like trash only to see families of the ‘right’ skin color get royal treatment. Public schools who want to pick and choose what students go to that school based on what family they come from and how much they pay in taxes. Teachers who wanted to teach beyond taking the test and teach kids how to solve problems were crucified and eventually left the profession. I’ve seen veterans shunned because they have served, by those who call themselves enlighten.
I wanted to live in a place where family means something, where the best way to avoid abortion is abstinence. Where teachers who are knowledgeable in their chosen field and teach beyond the book I want to live in a place where hard work is rewarded; and the welfare system is a safety net, not a way of life.
Cory mentioned the reason people are leaving the state is because of bad legislators passing bad laws. So some extent I have to agree. The transgender bill shouldn’t be on the Governor’s desk, it shouldn’t have been introduced in the first place. Boys should shower with boys and girls with girls, reasonable accommodations for those confused or unsure should be made at the local level. Not mandated by state law. We need to work keep government in its place and not reaching places it doesn’t belong.
Thank you, Robert Dear.
I don’t see a Robert Dear name for those who posted on this thread. Are you “trippin” right now?
Lye, Mike Clark just wrote a sonnet for the guy who murdered three at a Planned Parenthood clinic. Try to keep up, Hun.
Keep up in your reality while being on some hallucinogenic “trip” again? No thank you!
(Take it outside, Lynn and Larry. Your personal sniping invites no one else to discuss the real issues.)
You’re right Lynn there are reasons why the fundamentalists have been able to fill the void, but they really are the problem right now. They are threatened by education, sexuality, etc but have pushed things too far. In the immediacy the public will be ready to vote in more sensible voices and in the long run even South Dakota will move forward says my crystal ball. Have a good day all.
Larry is your sidekick and you have longed endorsed his behavior. Take the time to look at this thread. MC takes the time to make a thoughtful reply and shares his experience. You may or may not agree with MC’s statements it but look at who was first in taking away from the thread with insults.
Hey It’s your blog and your sidekick. It’s evidently the type of dialog you prefer. :)
South Dakota: Land of Infinite Ventriloquism.
The only ones confused about transgendered people are deliberately ignorant,right wing religious nutjobs.
Since when have public schools been allowed to pick and choose which students they want? They are obligated to take them all.
Mike; They have to take everyone in their district. A group of people attempted to
redraw a school district boundaries.
MC is mapping out a pragmatic conservatism. Elect me, and I might be able to work with him.
He exaggerates when he speaks of wanting to live in a place where “family means something.” That’s exceptionalist fantasy. Family means something everywhere, to every person. You can look in any community and find plenty of people who cherish their families and plenty of people who abuse their families. Even in a Terry Redlin/John Green South Dakota, there are plenty of failings in our commitments to families. Exhibit 1 is low wages, leaving families with less time to spend together and fewer choices. Exhibit 2: our stubborn resistance to paying teachers for the work they do. Teachers and other workers who leave for better pay are often leaving for the sake of their family, so they can give their children more opportunities.
Family matters everywhere.