South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem kicked off the second day of the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference with plenty of criticism for Democrats, but also an entreaty: don’t stop talking to them. Win them over.
“Listen, we all have people in our lives that we quit talking to. That we figured they’re so far gone, they’re so liberal, we’re just not talking to them anymore, they’ve offended us. We need to get over ourselves and start having those conversations again,” Noem told attendees of the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference Saturday morning.
“Take the anger and the emotion out of the discussion and start visiting with them” [Emily Lawler, “South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem to Michigan Republicans: Talk to Your Liberal Friends,” MLive.com, 2021.09.25].
That sounds a lot like the advice Noem gave reverent locals back in April to “Stop being offended by each other” and “Start talking to people you’ve written off.” The subsequent steady stream of partisan Twitter-snark from her and her out-of-state entourage don’t show much sign of getting over perceived offense and seeking open conversation with people outside the Trumpist base.
But let me take the Governor at her word and practice her preaching myself. Let me assume that the words she spoke yesterday morning on Mackinac Island weren’t just the easiest script to pull from her thin file folder to jetlaggedly (oh, sorry: turboproplaggedly) recite for a crack-of-dawn crowd of out-of-staters who wouldn’t recognize her rhetorical recycling. Let me assume that when she said “We”, she really meant the first-person plural, including herself. She really meant that she, too, needs to get over herself and her hyperpartisan offense and start having conversations with people she thinks are “so liberal”.
Governor Noem, why not start by having a conversation with me? Your party, including the blog you sponsor, has called me “the most liberal man in South Dakota.” Why not sit for an interview with Dakota Free Press?
So let’s interact again. Let’s spend one hour talking on the record about politics, South Dakota policy, and civil discourse. We won’t talk about you personally or me personally. I won’t scream at you for murdering hundreds of South Dakotans with your coronavirus denialism, and I trust you won’t wave the attack postcards your party carpetbombed Aberdeen with to keep its lapdog Al Novstrup in the Senate. We’ll talk about conservative and liberal principles. We’ll talk about freedom, or, more rightly, liberty in the necessary context of the social contract. We’ll talk about taxes, education, infrastructure, agriculture, the environment, and the proper role of government in keeping South Dakota healthy and growing.
As I said, we’ll have this talk on the record. How better to demonstrate “getting over yourself” than granting such a lengthy, substantive interview to a blogger from Aberdeen? How better to show conservatives and liberals alike that civil conversation between political opponents is not just possible but instructive than engaging in unfiltered, one-on-one conversation with “the most liberal man in South Dakota”?
To that end, I will bring my cameras and record the whole thing for publication on this blog. We can even do it live, if you want, in front of an audience consisting of anyone who wants to come watch. But the conversation is one on one, you and me, uninterrupted, unfiltered.
South Dakota is home turf for both of us, but I will happily grant you more home-court advantage: I’ll come do this interview in your office on the Second Floor at the Capitol, at the Mansion, at the farmhouse on Highway 81, at the Ramkota in Watertown, wherever is convenient for your schedule and my schedule.
Don’t let my stern and steady criticism of your administration fool you, Governor Noem: I can get over myself in a heartbeat and talk to anybody. I can live up to the words you said here in Aberdeen in April and in Michigan yesterday; I gladly offer you the opportunity to do the same.
Governor Kristi Noem, the most conservative woman in America, talks to Cory Heidelberger, the most liberal man in South Dakota—brand it however you want, but let’s make it happen on Dakota Free Press!