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Baumeister: Hunhoff Distinguishes Liberals from Conservatives

Columnist Dave Baumeister went to lunch with Democrats Friday and heard a good speech by Bernie Hunhoff on the difference between conservatives and liberals. Here’s Baumeister’s report from Friday’s Democratic Forum in Sioux Falls

Bernie Hunhoff
Bernie Hunhoff

“South Dakota is a great place for liberals and progressives to make a difference. This is where they should be.”

This week I got to play reporter for the Dakota Free Press when I covered the weekly Democratic Forum in Sioux Falls. So, the words I started off with are those of South Dakota Magazine publisher and famous state Democrat, Bernie Hunhoff.

Hunhoff’s talk on Friday, Nov. 8 brought back the original meanings of the words conservative and liberal when he said, “One group is cautious and doesn’t want change. The other group wants to move and get going.

“Maybe this is the way things should be.”

As I have said before, neither side has a monopoly on good ideas. But in a political context, being “conservative” means a person does not want change. Being “liberal” means they do.

Change is necessary; without it, life becomes stagnant—and no progress is made, but change just for the sake of changing is not always prudent.

But I want to expand on some of the things Hunhoff said and look at how change has always been a part of South Dakota’s history.

Let’s go back to the time of the Civil War and before when the Republican party was the political party of change. There would be no white people in South Dakota had they not wanted change.

Now, let’s jump ahead to 1898 when South Dakota became the first state in the Union to adopt the ability for citizens to independently adopt change by instituting the initiative and referendum process to adopt state laws.

And talk about “liberals”—in 1962, South Dakota gave the nation one of the best U.S. Senators in the last century, George McGovern.

More recently, in 2006, South Dakotans used the referendum to challenge an extremely restrictive abortion law, and that major move by the South Dakota Legislature and governor was defeated by the voters.

In 2008, anti-abortion advocates tried the same thing again with a slightly less restrictive abortion law, and, like to 2006 referendum, it was defeated at the ballot box.

Through an initiated measure in 2016, the people of South Dakota voted to limit corruption by elected officials; however, the majority in the Legislature, not wanting to change how much bribery and payola money they could rake in, said, essentially that the South Dakota voters were not smart enough to know what they were voting for and changed to law back to favor their gifts.

THEN, led by Rep. Jon Hansen of District 25 in northern Minnehaha County, the Legislature decided to “fix” the voters by making nearly impossible for grassroots efforts to circulate petitions.

Hansen went on record in the press saying that his measure limits the ability of “out-of-state political hacks” to put measures on the South Dakota ballot.

But Hansen is either lying about his reasons for doing this—or he is really stupid—because the new law he sponsored essentially only allows for “big money” to get measures on the ballot, as they can afford to jump through the hoops Hansen created.

If a grassroots effort does have the wherewithal to get something on the ballot with this new law, it is probably a foregone conclusion that it has the support to win at the polls (think medicinal marijuana and hemp).

But getting back to what Hunhoff had to say…

South Dakota has a long liberal and progressive history; however, he explains the current trend of people in the Legislature trying to block change is being allowed by South Dakotans’ buying into national politics.

Nationally, they are pushing the idea of what a “Republican” should be, and so South Dakotans elect them, even though, when it comes to supporting some of their “benchmark” legislation, the voters rise up against them.

So, looking at the group that Hunhoff said wants to “move and get going,” he was talking about the liberals and progressives.

“The liberals are the workhorses,” he said.

And while he did not say the conservatives were lazy, I got the distinct idea that is what he was getting at.

Why else would anyone constantly be against change, even when history has proven time and time again that change is a part of life?

Hunhoff shared a list of stories of people—liberals—doing “amazing” things around the state to help others.

And he made it clear that these people were doing much more than our elected officials.

I have to admit that my favorite part of his talk came when he referred to Cory and me as the “Thomas Paines of South Dakota.”

As Cory does much more work on the blog than I, he should take top “Thomas Paine” honors, but I will admit that no one has ever given me a better compliment than that!


  1. Edwin Arndt 2019-11-10 10:10

    Conservatives don’t want change? I consider myself a conservative, but
    if I didn’t want change I would still be driving a tractor without a cab
    and the younger folk around the farm would still be handling 60 lb. square bales.
    Don’t have time for more now. Time for church.

  2. mike from iowa 2019-11-10 10:20

    As I have said before, neither side has a monopoly on good ideas.

    One side certainly has gerrymandered ideas so tightly only the bad ones get airplay, and they reward the wealthiest to the detriment of the majority.

  3. o 2019-11-10 12:32

    Edwin, I think you nibble at the edges of what “change” means: you still farm; you still dive a tractor; you still bale hay; you still do the work that generations have done before you because it is good, important work. At its core, that seems very conservative to me.

  4. Porter Lansing 2019-11-10 12:52

    It’s heuristic. Claiming that small government is good government is lazy legislating. Deciding your position on any issue by whether or not it involves “out of state input’ is lazy citizenry. Yet these two heuristic triggers are what SD conservatives base their political character on.

  5. Edwin Arndt 2019-11-10 13:35

    O, what does change mean to you? Yes, I’m conservative.
    That’s drive, with an r.
    We still bale hay, but we make big round bales that are
    handled mechanically.
    Again, what does change mean to you?

  6. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices 2019-11-10 13:52

    Edwin: it’s true that most farmers in SoDak don’t want to handle small bales or drive a tractor exposed to SoDak sun and wind, but they still vote for Kristi Noem and DJ Trump and light candles every night for Bill Janklow.

    Those traits are what distinguishes them as voting wide-eyed against their own interests.

  7. Dave Baumeister 2019-11-10 14:44

    Edwin, please re-read what I wrote : “But in a political context, being “conservative” means a person does not want change. Being “liberal” means they do.”

    What you speak of has nothing to do with politics. Why do you say your are conservative? From what you have written, I do not know what makes you “politically conservative.” Just because one considers himself a Republican does not make him “conservative.” Most Republicans today are not in the least “conservative.” Although many do ignore the enevitability of how science is changing our world, that is not arguing against change, it is being an ostrich.

    The Republicans of Abraham Lincoln’s time represented the political party of change, so conservative and liberal ideas cannot be associated with political parties. So again, what makes you say you are conservative? When you answer that, we can tell if you really are.

  8. Edwin Arndt 2019-11-10 16:11

    Some of the people on this blog are so immersed in politics
    that they have little idea about the nuts and bolts real world
    that most of us inhabit.
    May I gently suggest that once support for abortion and
    what I consider an oxymoron, same sex marriage, ceases to
    be a litmus test for being a democrat on a national scale,
    democrats in South Dakota might get a little more traction.

  9. grudznick 2019-11-10 16:15

    Mr. Arndt, I am glad you have been studying grudznick’s suggestions, young sir.

  10. Porter Lansing 2019-11-10 17:20

    What’s worse than “out of state” heuristic, knee jerking? Republicans like grudz and Edwin giving advice to Democrats. Thanks, anyway but we as a group stand behind women’s rights and LGBTQ rights. It’s our core dedication. #MountainGoatsEatHemp

  11. grudznick 2019-11-10 18:30

    Mr. Baumeister is a liar.
    The heinous measure, initiated as #22, was full of lies and out of state money, and was the most corrupt measure ever initiated in the Great State of South Dakota.

    The MOST corrupt measure, ever initiated, in the Great State of South Dakota.
    And it was rightly smited.

    Do not take my money and give it to politicians to spend on advertising.
    grudznick will not stand for that.

  12. Porter Lansing 2019-11-10 18:52


  13. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices 2019-11-10 18:58

    Arndt: Oh ye of too few vowels or too many consonants, or both, take heed. You may “gently suggest” anything you want, but making laws preventing people from exercising control over what goes on inside them or laws preventing people from proclaiming their intent to support and domestically dwell with each other are ANYTHING but conservative in nature. They are, plainly and simply, autocratic attempts to make people do what you want them to do, and they are doomed to failure. You, sir (I assume), are a wannabe dictator.

  14. Edwin Arndt 2019-11-10 19:32

    Well Porter, how is that core dedication going over
    with South Dakota voters?

    Grudz, thank you for calling me young.

    75 years young, an oxymoron if there ever was one.

  15. Porter Lansing 2019-11-10 19:50

    Edwin … South Dakota Democrats are proud to be members of the national Democratic Party. We control the House of Representatives, you know, the place where spending begins. Don’t get me wrong, Edwin. South Dakota does matter.

  16. happy camper 2019-11-10 20:03

    First off I’ve never heard Cory say neither side has a monopoly on good ideas. Please provide a link!!! Someone smarter than me recently said the problem with each side they don’t realize when they are wrong.

  17. Porter Lansing 2019-11-10 20:29

    Edwin. It’s no secret that the majority of SoDak’ers don’t like liberals and Democrats. We get it. But, we Dems have a few cards left to play. Because you don’t like us there’s no benefit in being nice to you, anymore. We liberals in our liberal states reach into our paychecks every month and send South Dakota money to help you pay your bills. It’s going to be like you SD Repub’s always say about Indians, the only way they’re going to improve is to stop helping them. So, next time Dem’s control Washington, that’s what’s going to happen to SD. No more money until you grab your boot straps, raise taxes on yourselves, and state taking responsibility for your own debts. No more handouts, Edwin. And, stop begging. It’s unbecoming of a Republican state.

  18. Debbo 2019-11-10 21:05

    In the current milieu, liberalism seems to mean trusting the people, rather than Big Money and Big Mechanisms.

    If the GOP is conservative as it claims (It’s not.), then it’s attempts to disenfranchise millions of voters certainly indicates disrespect for them at best, and contempt at worst.

    On the other hand, if Democrats are Liberals (Some/most are.), then their efforts to make voting more accessible to all citizens demonstrates a profound trust in and respect for the populace.

    Conservatism has a very long history of favoring wealth, while American liberalism has served the hard working middle and lower classes by creating and enabling new mechanisms for their benefit. The most obvious of those is labor unions, but also minimum wages, cooperatives, etc.

    Conservatives try to deny problems while maintaining systems tilted to their benefit.

    Liberals recognize challenges and innovate to meet them and rise above, bringing everyone along.

    That’s why I’m proud to be a Liberal citizen of the greatest nation on Earth, the United States of America!


  19. Debbo 2019-11-10 21:08

    Here’s a thing most conservatives find threatening, a free and unfettered internet. Dumkopf Dunderhead and his WH idiots are making a mess of that too. No surprise.

    “Rising levels of political disinformation and government surveillance are making the internet less free in the U.S., Axios World editor Dave Lawler writes from a new report by Freedom House, a democracy and human rights research group.

    “The U.S. has long been a bastion of internet freedom, and still ranks sixth out of 65 countries in the report. But its status has fallen each of the past three years.

    “Why it matters: Internet freedom is in decline around the world, as governments increasingly use social media to monitor their citizens and spread disinformation at home and overseas.

    “The authors cite monitoring of social media platforms by immigration and law enforcement agencies as a particular concern in the U.S., along with political disinformation that has been ‘at times exacerbated by top government officials and political leaders.'”

    Axios AM, Mike Allen

  20. Debbo 2019-11-10 23:01

    Liberals want to change this, perhaps by implementing an income tax, to better serve the youth with an eye toward South Dakota’s future:

    “But a new national study of small, rural school systems ranked South Dakota as fifth-highest in the nation in terms of challenges faced and need for improvement.

    “The study by the Rural School and Community Trust, titled “Why Rural Matters 2018-19,” used census information and data from the U.S. Department of Education and other sources in an attempt to shine a light on the need for states to focus more attention on and provide greater funding to rural schools.

    “We do this study because rural schools and communities really matter to our nation, and they’re often forgotten,” said Alan Richard, a spokesman for the Rural School and Community Trust. “The financial and logistical challenges that rural schools face are really immense.”

    “The study found that nationally, nearly one in six rural students lives in poverty, that one in seven qualifies for special education and that one in nine rural students has moved in the past year. All of those factors put rural students at risk of falling behind or not graduating.

    “A high student-mobility rate is one of the factors hampering rural education in South Dakota, the study found. Researchers also said South Dakota is one of only seven states that decreased funding for rural schools in recent years, and that the state has a high rate of students living in poverty.

    “The study also pointed out that about one in six rural students in South Dakota fails to graduate high school, and that less than 4% of those who do graduate have passed an Advanced Placement course, which can qualify them for college credit or enhance their ability to get into universities.”

    Conservatives want to keep the same property tax system, even though it’s harming the state’s youth by hindering their future prospects. Conservatives find this acceptable, since they’re not going to bat to change it:

    “The study found that, counter to conventional wisdom, child poverty exists at a higher rate in rural counties (64%) compared with urban areas (47%) and tends to be more persistent and experienced more deeply than in urban areas, where more public resources may exist.”

    “The study concludes with the statement that, ‘The image many have of rural America — pristine, idyllic and untouched by modern problems — is obviously outdated.’ The study urges educators and policymakers to ensure that rural schools are given greater focus in terms of study, discussion and efforts at improvement.”

    The quote in the last paragraph is SD conservatism in a nutshell.

    The entire piece comes from KELO.

  21. JW 2019-11-11 08:47

    I get really tired of the conservative “go-to” argument against abortion and LGBT circumstances when they run out of legitimate arguments against progressive (liberal) causes. (change) Its always the same old crass, failed logic that suggests liberals promote and defend killing babies and altering the psychological makeup of thousands of Americans that are no different politically, intellectually, or religiously than they are. The shallow conservative seems to deliberately avoid the constitutional/legal rights and civil liberties of the individual that have been established by the courts that have been the law of the land for decades and won’t be changed by anything except court decision. Its just a blatant refusal to recognize that law, not politics, is supposed to provide for a safe and orderly society.

  22. mike from iowa 2019-11-11 09:10

    and now wingnuts have the ideologues on the courts to change the rule of law in favor of wingnuts, JW. Buckle up. It looks like rough seas ahead.

  23. o 2019-11-11 09:50

    Clearly, many of the SD GOP faithful who describe themselves as conservative, mean that in terms of SOCIAL conservative. Quickly most all discussions of liberal and conservative reframe into social discussions, and conservatives become authoritarian (theocratic) in wanting absolute enforcement of their social norms universally. Instead of bringing fringe groups into the whole, efforts are to push them off the edge of this pure, flat earth.

    Social conservatism is a tool used by the GOP to rally the troops and avoid real issues of governance (at least ones truly for the benefit of the majority).

  24. jerry 2019-11-11 10:38

    Dictator Chubby has fired National Security officer who testified about Ukraine… Veterans Day is just another Monday when a decorated line officer is canned for defending the Constitution.

    ““On Sunday, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who gave a bombshell testimony in the House impeachment investigation last month on President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scheme, will be removed from his post at the White House National Security Council…”

    EB5 Rounds wants to continue the corruption of the EB5 that corrupted South Dakota to the point of making us the most corrupted state in a country that knows no bounds regarding corruption.

  25. Buckobear 2019-11-11 10:42

    Arndt said “ That’s drive, with an r.”
    Next time you put your car in “R,” which way does it go ?
    Yep. To go forward, choose “D.”

  26. Porter Lansing 2019-11-11 11:19

    Title of the Week: The new candidate of the young elite. Pete Buttigieg ~ a young, vibrant, gay, midwestern, war veteran mayor with progressive ideas and plenty of money — but both feet planted in fiscal prudence.
    ⚡Breaking: Pete Buttigieg says he’d like to name a woman to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs for the first time, part of a broader plan to spur cultural changes to help the military’s fastest-growing group. (AP)

  27. leslie 2019-11-11 20:35

    Liberals are aghast at Putin’s Puppet destroying Ukraine’s US partnership in Russia’s war against Ukraine since Crimea was seized. Conservatives, Republican’s, the GOP, Koch Brothers and the fossil fuel industry are not. Simple. Money is more important than our Democratic values.

  28. Porter Lansing 2019-11-11 21:19

    What happened today.
    ~ Impeachment investigators released the deposition transcript of Laura Cooper, the Pentagon’s top Russia and Ukraine official, who said the decision to delay almost $400 million in military aid to Ukraine left officials across the government baffled, questioning how President Trump could legally block aid that had already been appropriated by Congress.
    Ms. Cooper said the White House had asked about Ukraine’s security aid in mid-June, nearly a month before the funding was frozen. She also said that the Defense Department had certified that Ukraine was making “significant forward progress” toward fighting corruption, undercutting the White House’s rationale for the hold.

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