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Al Novstrup Still Doesn’t Want Your Kind in South Dakota

This weekend’s Constitutional cluelessness and subtle bigotry comes from Senator Al Novstrup (R-3/Aberdeen). At Saturday’s crackerbarrel, Aberdeen resident Abby McQuillen expressed concern that House Bill 1215 and other Republican culture-war bills could deter people from moving to South Dakota. With his usual sophistry, Novstrup confirmed his ignorance of the Constitution and his bigoted pursuit of cultural cleansing in our fair state.

Rep. Drew Dennert (R-3/Aberdeen) wisely and concisely dismissed HB 1215’s effort to re-delegitimize same-sex marriage as a violation of the 14th Amendment per Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) and of South Dakota’s prohibition on multi-subject bills. Rep. Carl Perry (R-3/Aberdeen) affirmed his heterosexuality but said he’s not against guys marrying guys and gals marrying gals and said “we’re all entitled to our personal lives.” Rep. Perry said he voted against the commercial-surrogacy ban to avoid driving surrogate parents out of South Dakota. “We need to do all we can to bring people in and be inclusive.”

But Senator Novstrup bumbled to the mic and confirmed our suspicions that all these dreadful, hateful bills are about urging people who don’t conform to their cultural vision to move away. Naturally, he cloaked his bigotry and cultural isolationism in the Founding Fathers:

When the Founding Fathers set up the United States, they set it up as… a laboratory of democracy, and the whole idea behind it was that different states would have different philosophies and you could migrate to wherever you felt most comfortable.

…A lot of people when they graduate high school will move to Minneapolis and come back when it’s time to raise a family because of the quality of life, because of the hunting, because of the freedom, and possibly because of the political philosophy of low taxes and more freedom.

…I live here, and you’ve all got the freedom—I’m not asking anybody to leave, I’m just telling you the way it’s set up is, if you like what we’re doing, stay; if you don’t, find a place that fits you better. And I don’t mean that in a hostile way; it’s just the way things work. If I thought I could find a better state, I would move there [Senator Al Novstrup, remarks to crackerbarrel, as recorded by Adam St. Paul, Dakota Broadcasting, 2020.02.08, timestamp 01:12:05].

You know, Al, when the Founding Fathers set up the United States, they at first gave the states wide latitude to forge their own paths. That was the Articles of Confederation, and they proved themselves a disaster pretty quickly. When the Founding Fathers set up the United States again in Philadelphia in 1787, they very specifically reined in the scope of state authority to allow a certain level of healthy experimentation at the state level while requiring every state to respect the same basic American rights for every citizen. They established a Bill of Rights that states cannot abrogate and a Supreme Court whose rulings on the scope of those rights states cannot ignore.

Al Novstrup crackerbarrell 20200208
Al Novstrup, crackerbarrel, from Dakota Broadcasting video, 2020.02.08

The bill Abby asked you about, HB 1215, takes a hostile view of the Supreme Court and the Founders’ intention to establish equal rights across state borders. Your statement, Al, takes a hostile view of the Framers’ intent. When the Framers ordained and established this Constitution in order to form a perfect Union, they did not mean to grant South Dakota or any state permission to ignore the Supreme Court, act like jerks to entire classes of citizens, and expect those oppressed by your jerkiness to seek the full enjoyment of their rights in other states with fewer jerks in elected office. Our more perfect Union ensures that everyone has the same basic rights, no matter what knuckleheads they may elect.

The Republican Party’s venomous slate of absurd culture-war bills seems designed to tell the world that people who don’t conform to Senator Novstrup’s white, straight, pious, crony-capitalist, and conservative paradigm are not welcome in South Dakota. Senator Novstrup’s statement at yesterday’s crackerbarrel lends weight to that reading of the GOP agenda and proves his thick-headed adherence to a destructive insularity that will foil any effort to make South Dakota grow and prosper.


  1. Porter Lansing 2020-02-09 19:52

    Al, if your state doesn’t like it here in America then just leave.

  2. Debbo 2020-02-09 20:22

    Good answer Porter.

    Nostrap is such a tiny man, afraid of anyone different from his myopic worldview. Got news for you, Dim Al, lots of South Dakotans do leave, mostly the best and brightest, and most of them don’t come back. Your weak “thinking” is one of the chief reasons.

  3. grudznick 2020-02-09 20:45

    And yet, despite the selective quotes and selective hair cut pictures posted on telephone poles and facebooks about the region, Mr. Novstrup, the elder, just continues to rock the vote in Aberdeen against all comers. grudznick shakes his head.

  4. Donald Pay 2020-02-09 21:22

    Yeah, how does that mutant get elected? Is there a cell of mutant spawn there in Aberdeen that elect this blob of low-IQ protoplasm?

    Al’s got a great addendum to Aberdeen’s otherwise great slogan, “Write Your Story, Elsewhere.” And you wonder why everywhere in South Dakota that has Al’s philosophy is dying.

  5. David 2020-02-09 21:32

    Amen Cory.

  6. Judi Cornelius 2020-02-10 08:01

    This is why South Dakota is a condition, not a state.

  7. John 2020-02-10 09:20

    Would Aberdeen’s Al be surprised at George Washington’s letter to the Hebrew Congregation? Likely so. It’s also likely that, given the opportunity, Washington or another founder would’ve an inviting, protective letter to a Mohammedan Mosque. The Founders so strongly knew what type of nation they created — and what type of nation they did not create they rebuked any idea of the US being a religious nation in the Treaty of Tripoli. Moving on.

    South Dakota needs taking a hard look at the melding and overlap of these 2 works. The first shows that where college graduates gather, prosperity rises. The second advocates a heartland visa for struggling regions – in response the question of whether to manage the decline or build the future.

    Run with it Cory, please. You are outstanding with the synthesis.

  8. Porter Lansing 2020-02-10 09:45

    From John’s article: A new human capital pipeline for the heartland would do much to counteract the profound demographic challenges that shrinking communities face in their housing markets, municipal finances, entrepreneurial ecosystems, and labor markets. For starters, immigrants are highly entrepreneurial, and as such would have a disproportionately positive effect on the local startup rate. Around one out of four entrepreneurs in the U.S. is an immigrant, and the share is even greater for founders of high-growth firms backed by venture capital. And according to one estimate, skilled immigrants generated 30% to 50% of the total productivity growth in the U.S. between 1990 and 2010.
    Q – Why would South Dakota communities be so averse to an influx of immigrants? My town of Watertown will continue to be a second level town until it embraces immigrants like Aberdeen, Sioux Falls, and Huron.
    A – SD ranks 45th in innovation skills. Perhaps new people with new ideas are a threat to those who languish in a “no changes” lifestyle.

  9. Eve Fisher 2020-02-10 11:09

    I’ve got $5 to chip in for Novstrup’s moving bill.

  10. Linda 2020-02-10 12:37

    Attended the District 30 Cracker Barrel in Custer this past Saturday. From the far SW of our great state to the far NE of our state sounds like the old saying “same song second verse”. Why do the voters continue to send these reps. to Pierre that have been trying to control our doctors office and our bedrooms for years? And, continue to insult our intelligence when we the voters vote one way and then they say we voters didn’t understand the bill when it goes against them.

  11. Debbo 2020-02-10 14:01

    Eve, I’ll double that. Fearful, small minded people like him and most of the SDGOP are killing SD.

  12. Mark 2020-02-10 19:03

    How in the Hell did we wind up with these DOPES ?
    There has to be a mutant bug in the water in Aberdeen, Dell Rapids and
    You know who I’m talking about.
    F’ ing Robots.

  13. Robin Friday 2020-02-10 19:08

    Have to say HALLELUJAH! and goodbye 1057.

  14. MD 2020-02-11 11:24

    I gave myself a 50% chance of returning when I moved from my hometown to Sioux Falls for college, that quickly decreased as my eyes were opened to the World.
    I gave myself an 80-90% chance of returning to South Dakota when I moved to North Dakota for graduate school. That has steadily decreased to near 0% after watching the carnage of the South Dakota political establishment.

    North Dakota is, unfortunately, deeply red as well. Unlike South Dakota though, the legislature and political establishment do not beat their chests on the nationwide party platform nearly as much. ND has expanded Medicaid, established evidence based programs to address addiction, and kept their schools reasonably funded. The state even refinanced my student loans with no origination fee (to one of the lowest APRs in the country), and was out competed in the private sector by the bank that gave me my mortgage.

    We have been able to grow our workforce with high paying technical jobs with major employers such as Microsoft, and a growing presence of things such as unmanned aerial systems with companies such as Northrop Grumman. The western side of the state is now entering a manageable stage of the oil boom.

    People will vote with their feet. Once they leave the state, you are going to struggle to get them to return with a culture war every legislative session and a public awareness campaign blunder every two years.

  15. Porter Lansing 2020-02-11 11:30

    Imagine if the Dakotas had been split vertically instead of horizontally leaving two states, East and West Dakota, like twin Minnesota’s. Both with the stabilization that comes from bordering Canada.

  16. Donald Pay 2020-02-11 11:47

    MD had a similar experience to mine, but we returned to South Dakota after grad school. When you come back to live in South Dakota after college or grad school, you are making a huge financial sacrifice, so you have to be motivated in some other way. We were more interested in contributing to our home state, and there were many issues that we would have an impact on. So, that’s what we did for 20 years. And then we figured out we had little saved for retirement. That’s when we voted with our feet, or consign ourselves to penury in our dotage.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-02-11 12:06

    Porter, had we split Dakota east/west, would eastern South Dakota have been any less regressive? Novstrup, Deutsch, Haugaard, Lana Greenfield, Pischke… all East River honyockers. (But on the good side, Aberdeen would have had a good shot at becoming the capital, allowing me to raise even more heck!)

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-02-11 12:12

    Donald offers an interesting counter to Al’s fantasy that good parents will all come to their senses and come back to South Dakota to raise families after a few years of partying in Sodom and St. Paul. Young parents may come back, and they may enjoy shorter drives to work and school, but many like Donald will realize they can’t save enough for retirement here, and we’ll see a later wave of brain drain in which experienced professionals take their intellectual capital and spending power elsewhere.

  19. Porter Lansing 2020-02-11 12:18

    Yes. Canada is America’s big sister. She’s there to look down her nose when you do something stupid that hurts Mom and Dad. She teaches you to ride a bike and teaches you how a bike can be used to help the neighborhood. But mostly, she just watches and that’s what gets your attention the most. She’s good in a way that every kid needs and eventually emulates. SD is like an only child that hurts others just to get attention.

  20. Porter Lansing 2020-02-11 12:28

    Millenials won’t move back to SD (or for the worst possible choice, move to the suburbs just for shorter commutes). They make things better where they already live because they like where they live.
    *DenverCity officials are planning an expansion and connecting Denver’s disjointed network of bike lanes, with more protected and buffered bike lanes around town. That, along with the increasing percentage of people commuting downtown by bike, is putting the city on the brink of a culture shift, advocates say.
    The transformation begins downtown, said Piep van Heuven, policy director for Bicycle Colorado, pointing to a survey from the Downtown Denver Partnership that shows a 36% jump in the number of people commuting to and from downtown by bike between 2016 and 2019.
    *Yes, Cory this serves as an invitation and an enticement for your wife to decide to move her family to Denver.

  21. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-02-11 20:41

    Denver is a nice town, Porter. How’s the Lutheran scene there? ;-)

  22. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-02-11 20:45

    I agree with Porter that John’s first link, at the top, is eminently quotable and useful in analysis of why Al Novstrupism stands between South Dakota and prosperity:

    Economists consider human capital calculations strong indicators of economic prosperity. Regions where the population’s skills and knowledge are high — places high in human capital — typically have the highest average incomes, GDP growth and business innovation. Lower human capital areas report more need for public assistance, lower consumer spending and lower productivity. Today’s popular places for highly educated people, especially places that attract younger college graduates, are likely to become the nation’s most prosperous economies in the future [Dee Gill, “Data Show Growth of Educated Adults in City Populations,” UCLA Anderson Review, 2019.12.18].

    Novstrup advocates a status quo mindset that is inherently hostile to new ideas and the educated people who think such ideas up. Educated people can see Al’s hostile meaning quite clearly. Most of them won’t waste their energy arguing with such a jerk. They’ll just move someplace where they and their innovative ideas are appreciated… and they’ll pay federal income tax to subsidize the poor laggards they left behind in Al’s oasis of ignorance.

  23. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-02-11 20:49

    More from Gill that helps diagnose the Novstrup party’s pathology:

    Yu finds some evidence that smaller towns are continuing to lose educated young people to cities. Large metro areas consistently ranked higher on the index than small towns. The only exceptions were college towns in which the institution was the major employer. Boulder, Colorado, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Iowa City — homes to very large public universities, where many jobs require advanced degrees — rank among the highest metro areas for human capital.

    Novstrup comes from one of those towns that benefits from having a public university to attract and retain young talent, yet his party treats the Board of Regents as the enemy, subjecting it to the attacks coached by anti-intellectual Fox and Breitbart, because they don’t like all those new ideas those professors and students come up with. The SDGOP wants all the economic benefits of universities, but they want everyone associated with the universities to shut up, put on seed caps, and act the way the SDGOP thinks all South Dakotans should act.

  24. Porter Lansing 2020-02-11 21:08

    The average Lutheran Pastor in Denver, CO makes $54,919, 13% below the national average Lutheran Pastor salary of $63,450. This pay is 7% lower than the combined average salaries of other metros Washington, DC, Dallas and Chicago.
    * Buttigieg is closing fast on Bernie. With 60% in they’re 2.2 points apart.

  25. Debbo 2020-02-11 22:18

    People like Nostrap live fearful lives. Sucks to be him.

  26. Porter Lansing 2020-02-11 22:21

    Agreed, Debbo. You can tell a lot about a person by what they’re afraid of. Also, whether they admit their fears or not.

  27. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-02-12 05:18

    Novstrup did do what the Chamber and his caucus leaders told him to do yesterday and vote for Senate Bill 70, which would allow the state to print Spanish versions of the driver’s license application, test, and study materials. But the skills test would still have to be conducted in English, because there’s no way we’re going to make an actual employee of the state speak a foreign language.

  28. DR 2020-02-12 20:27

    Didn’t the Supreme Court rule on same sex marriages in 2015? I am Asking for a friend.
    CAH, we don’t agree on much but this one is a pointless waste of time and money. We cant pay our teachers but by god we have the money to fight this when it goes to the Supreme Court. Sorry Al, you are flat wrong on this one.

  29. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-02-13 07:43

    Yes, DR, you are correct. Representative Dennert gave the proper response to Abby’s question: even if gay marriage doesn’t square with your morals, the Supreme Court has spoken, the ruling stands, and we all live by it.

  30. Porter Lansing 2020-02-13 08:09

    So many in the legislature care more about what people are going to think about them than they care about doing what’s right for everyone.
    *Don’t be concerned with what people think about you because they rarely do. 90% of people spend 90% of their time thinking about themselves.

  31. Marne J Lamb 2020-02-16 05:25

    You could take your class clown act and go to an even more ass backwards state take these morons with you this is my Homeland.

  32. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-02-16 08:09

    I suspect the Lakota people told Al’s ancestors to go back to someplace that suited their European culture better than the established local culture here. Al’s continued presence indicates his forefathers ignored the advice he now gives to people who don’t conform to his norms.

  33. grudznick 2020-02-16 10:54

    The Tipperary Inn would be where the fanciest in the legislatures would stay during the sessions in the capital city of West Dakota, where the Conservatives with Common Sense would rule, while those insaner than most would inhabit East Dakota where they could have border wars with the libbies to the east.

  34. mike from iowa 2020-02-18 08:40

    I live here, and you’ve all got the freedom—I’m not asking anybody to leave, I’m just telling you the way it’s set up is, if you like what we’re doing, stay; if you don’t, find a place that fits you better.

    Nose Strip says South Dakota was only recently set up as a regressive graveyard for the constitution and women’s reproductive rights. I am pretty sure the original South Dakota was a whole lot more welcoming of people of most colors and nationalities. It did not start out lily white and repugnantly discriminatory of others, like today’s wingnuts.

  35. Debbo 2020-02-18 14:01

    “It did not start out lily white and repugnantly discriminatory of others.”

    Mike, as you know, SD’s regressive white supremacists don’t want the real SD of any time in its history, even of the 1950s. They want the imaginary vistas of their fevered modern caveman dreams that echo Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best and Make Room for Daddy, but harsher.

    The man rules the roost. The woman is “mother”, submissive and obsequious. The children are perfect little boys and angelic little sisters. The man makes all, I said ALL decisions.

    Now I’m not saying Al Nostrap is a white supremacist, but the white supremacists think he is, as well as several of his SDGOP knuckle dragging pals.

  36. mike from iowa 2020-02-18 16:11

    Thank you, Debbo. You have validated my opinion for me.

  37. mike from iowa 2020-02-20 20:30

    Nose Strip apparently hasn’t gotten the overseas memo……

    From Taegan Goddard:

    Mulvaney Says U.S. Economy ‘Desperate’ for Immigrants

    February 20, 2020 at 2:22 pm EST By Taegan Goddard 176 Comments

    “Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told a crowd at a private gathering in England on Wednesday night that the Trump administration ‘needs more immigrants’ for the U.S. economy to continue growing,” according to audio obtained by the Washington Post.

    Said Mulvaney: “We are desperate — desperate — for more people. We are running out of people to fuel the economic growth that we’ve had in our nation over the last four years. We need more immigrants.”

  38. Debbo 2020-02-20 23:26

    Not news to the part of the USA that thinks, rather than fears.

  39. Debbo 2020-02-22 13:30

    Justice Sotomayor is absolutely correct.

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