I took the plunge yesterday. I renewed my driver's license and re-joined the Republican Party. I do so holding my nose a bit, but one is better off working on the inside and getting dirty rather than trying to be pure and "above the fray." Here's an example of why I hold my nose. PP at the War College says that Tuesday's primary resaults show that the South Dakota Republican Party is dedicated to "less government, lower taxes, and good education for our kids."
Take a look at this chart. Could South Dakota's taxes get any lower? Take a look at our roads. Could we get any less government? It is true that South Dakota's national rankings in education are respectable. But is the South Dakota rallying cry "Hey, we're doing good enough!"? As one of PP's commenters notes, compared to other states South Dakota does well in education. Compared to where we should be we are doing dismally. As a college professor I can tell you that a disturbing number of our high school graduates are unable to write, read, or do math at a college level. And I know that is true everywhere, not just at my institution. Our institution does have a fantastic teacher education program. Guess where the best students go teach? I can tell you it is not South Dakota, and certainly not to rural school districts (yes, with some exceptions). I do not agree with liberals that more money for education will solve our problems. Compared to 30 years ago we spend 3 times as much per pupil in inflation adjusted dollars while at best remaining stagnant in performance. The biggest problem is with the curriculum, not with the funding. But that does not mean that we shouldn't be paying our teachers more. I don't see why we should be proud that we do "good enough" with government on the cheap. Government on the cheap gets you cheap government.
The South Dakota GOP labors under the belief that that Pierre is Washington, D.C. On the national level we are taxed too much and our government is too big. This is most decidedly not the case in our state. It is too bad that state policy must be made with an eye towards the bloated mass in Washington (and nowhere is that more true than in education), but we can't let their bad policy and excessive taxation stop our government from doing what it should do for the people of South Dakota. It is too bad that we essentially elect national governors, not presidents, and the national government has stuck its nose into so many things that are rightly state priorities. But state governments are here to provide for the "general welfare." The limits we conservatives would place on the national government are often inappropriate to state government. Let's hope some Republicans see that.