Ron Moeller is a carpetbagging former CIA paramilitary operations officer now bunkered in Lead and running as a Republican for District 31 Senate.
Hmm… I guess the Trumpists are working to place coup collaborators in every state capitol.
Moller’s campaign looks like the usual Trumpist tripe, with a few notes on South Dakota thoughtlessly pasted onto the standard MAGA marketing materials. Thoughtless line #1 comes right at the top of Moeller’s Issues page, where Moeller shouts, “JOIN ME IN TAKING OUR STATE and COUNTRY BACK!” So South Dakota is also in the hands of enemy forces from whom it must taken back? Who are the controlling enemy forces whom we must oust, Ron? Kristi Noem? The current District 31 delegation of Representatives Odenbach and Fitzgerald and drunk Senator Johns? Do tell.
Thoughtless line #2 comes right after #1, as Moeller claims his first issue is “South Dakota and America First”—which makes no sense, because only one thing can come first. Moeller’s wording indicates that while he’s aping the national fascist slogan, he would default to secessionist state’s rights:
South Dakota, while a proud member of the United States, should never sacrifice its own well-being to please others, whether it’s a large multinational corporation, collegiate athletic organizations, or another state. We need to stand firm for our state and its citizens [Ron Moeller, “Issues Overview,” District 31 Legislative campaign website, retrieved 2021.11.29].
Moeller’s while phrase indicates that he really puts America second, behind South Dakota. Yet both of these thoughtless opening lines hint that he really puts both America and South Dakota behind the Dear Leader whom he’s parroting (and doing a darn good job thereof, since the Dear Leader doesn’t put much thought behind his words, either). America, South Dakota, cult of personality—I’ll be happy to debate Ron on whichever of those he wants to declare as his core value, but before we can have a debate, I need Ron to clearly state his core value.
Moeller then fills his issues page with a number of generic MAGA shouts that don’t really relate to the core issues the South Dakota Legislature needs to spend its time on. Moeller promotes a ban on coronavirus vaccine mandates, although his supporting statement—”Mandates, whether imposed by the government or corporations, are morally wrong and illegal”—appears to apply to all requirements and thus is illogical and anarchic. Government is not a suggestion committee; we form governments to set and enforce rules that circumscribe our freedom to maximize liberty. Government mandates written into law are by definition legal. When Moeller was a CIA spook, he surely had to do what he was told by someone back at Langley. Did Moeller follow the mandates imposed by his government superiors, or did he just organize his own raids and coups?
Corporations, too, operate on a hierarchical decision-making structure, with folks at the top telling workers below what to do. Corporations impose mandates on employees every day: start work at 8, wear a hardhat, produce 50 widgets a day, attend active shooter training, pee in this cup. Are bosses inherently immoral and illegal?
Moving from illogic to irrelevance, Moeller apes the Stop the Steal lie, boosting the idea that our elections are inaccurate and unclean and that we need election audits. No evidence has been presented anywhere that past American elections have been inaccurate or unclean; in South Dakota, voter fraud or miscounts have been complete non-issues. Again, Moeller isn’t talking about real South Dakota issues; he’s just playing dress-up in his Bannon brownshirt.
Moeller tries to talk South Dakota but either fails miserably or stumbles into liberal talk. He declares South Dakota’s economy is doing well but then dissolves into generics about Help Wanted signs everywhere and needing “unemployment benefits” to “be not greater than wages.” (Read the DLR Reemployment Assistance Benefits handbook: benefits aren’t greater than wages.) Moeller then says “We need to encourage clean light industries to establish themselves in South Dakota,” which sounds great and green but runs against his own parties intense focus on recruiting factory feedlots and big employers and their failure to keep wind turbine manufacturer Molded Fiber Glass in state. Under economy, Moeller also says “State government spending needs to remain flat,” another lazy generic slogan which, if it stood a chance in heck of enactment, would promise economic stagnation in a state keenly dependent on government jobs for economic survival (and again is a funny thing to hear coming from a guy who spent his career earning government checks).
Under “Taxes,” Moeller complains about outsiders like him pouring in and driving up property prices and property taxes. He promises not to raise taxes, but we already have the property tax caps built in to prevent skyrocketing assessments. He does propose to “reduce and eliminate” (again, which is it, Ron?) the “sales tax on groceries,” a great liberal idea that his Republican Party has staunchly opposed. He then tosses a vague vow to “shut down private businesses that view the South Dakota Treasury as their personal ‘piggy bank.'” I’m not sure what businesses he’s talking about (come on, Ron: get tough and name names!), but the only ones I can think of are his own Party’s cronies, and promising to shut those guys down is a sure route to primary destruction.
Moeller also mentions water use and the risk thereto posed by the “recent influx of newcomers” like himself. “We need to seriously consider where new housing is placed and ensure the water aquifer can support it,” says Moeller, in what sounds like a call for zoning restrictions that would run counter to his own Governor Kristi Noem’s (you are aware, Ron, that she’s actually your governor now, right?) agenda of tearing up local zoning restrictions… although maybe he’s going to advocate a statewide zoning board that would restrict where developers can put new houses…although, nah, that would be government mandates….
Stepping back from the confusion that results when tries to espouse original South Dakota-specific policy ideas, Moeller drags us through the predictable generic cries against the 1619 Project, Critical Race Theory, and “teacher’s unions that have a stranglehold on” school boards (complete with links to generic national propaganda via the Heritage Foundation and Fox News), none of which are issues in any South Dakota school district. He also mouths the predictable generic absolutism about abortion and the Second Amendment (why don’t Republicans run on the sacrosanctity of the First Amendment, or the Fourth, or the Eighth, or the Fourteenth?).
In his one true delve into South Dakota specifics, Moeller rails against a proposed move of one of the South Dakota Wildland Fire Division’s four district offices from Lead to Spearfish. The state says that move, if executed, will be based on science and cost—and having a district office in Spearfish right near the new tanker base at Clyde Ice Field would seem to promise some cost efficiency—but forget science and efficiency, says Moeller. Calling the move “indefensible”, he expects the state to continue subsidizing the lifestyle choices of him and his carpetbagging compatriots who are building houses deep in the flammable woods and then are too lazy to volunteer to put out their own fires:
But Lead Fire Chief Tim Eggers asked the state officials to explain their justification for even considering a move. Unlike Spearfish, which has forest fire protection resources from the U.S. Forest Service, Lead does not have immediate resources beyond its volunteer fire department. Therefore, the Lead department relies on the state presence for immediate fire response in the forest.
…The difference in Spearfish’s urban growth and Lead’s vacation housing boom in the forest is another reason the Lead-Deadwood area needs to retain a full-time presence from wildland fire officials. In Lead, more and more houses are being built deep in the forest, a move that further warrants the need for wildland fire protection, said Al Williams.
“We’re here in the woods,” Williams said. “I would like you to explain to me how you can justify the growth as an excuse, when that growth is different.”
While Lead is experiencing major growth patterns with expensive homes built in the forest, its volunteer base in the fire department is shrinking, which is another factor Eggers asked the state to consider. “We’re seeing this growth, but we don’t have more people to draw from to add to our forces and train them up,” Eggers said [Wendy Pitlick, “State Officials, Lead Fire Volunteers Discuss Possible Wildland Fire Move to Spearfish,” Black Hills Pioneer, 2021.10.23].
Funny: the guys like Moeller who want to burn down government can’t put out their own fires without government help.
Moeller fails to offer any consistent, specific ideas on how to govern South Dakota. If any consistent idea can be divined from his lazy Trumpist tripe, it may be that newcomers like him create all sorts of problems for South Dakota: higher land prices, higher property taxes, tighter water supplies, more forest fire danger, more dependence on government services… and crappy campaign issues that speak more to the national fascist punditariat than to any practical South Dakota problems that need solving..
I don’t know if incumbent District 31 Senator Timothy Johns intends to run for reëlection—he certainly could, given he’s only in his first Senate term. But it’ll be a darn shame if District 31/Lawrence County’s only choices for Senator are a drunk driver or a sloppy fascist. It’s hard to tell who would do more damage to the Republic.