I shouldn’t blame politicians for being, well, political. These are practical people who know how to read a room and what to say, when to wink, when to nod, when to smile, when to say yes, and when to just shut up about stuff, even important stuff.

So, it’s no surprise that we have a guy like Neal Tapio considering a run for the House of Representatives. Neal is as predictable as George Ferebee; people with no vision and little understanding and plenty of agendas. Neal hasn’t got any ideas worth running on so he smears every Muslim in America, never mind the world, and he does it citing Pew Research that doesn’t exist.

Of course, some research exists, but it doesn’t say what Neal wanted it to say, so he made some stuff up. That’s a particular kind of bad guy, and we have more than our share. I hope we don’t send Neal to Washington. He does enough damage to South Dakota right here at home.

More interesting is Shantel Krebs’ prevarication on the question of religious freedom in America. After all, Shantel is an otherwise very bright light in many ways. Why fudge her answers when asked if she favors religious freedom for people who are, well, religious?

You either support religious freedom for Muslims, Catholics, Mormons, Baptists, Scientologists, whoever, or not. Never trouble another person about their religion, somebody said. It’s good advice. We give tax-free status to all kinds of billion-year old people and so forth. It’s why a bunch of us, including Hani Shafai and Qusi al Haj, came here. I’ve never asked them about their religions, and, if they are religious, they’ve never discussed it with me. I don’t care. As long as they support the Boise State Broncos, we’re good.

Dusty Johnson took the high ground, which may not help him. He said he supports religious freedom — for everybody, including Muslims. Probably lost a bunch of votes since the Constitution really isn’t very popular, or well understood, in the Heartland.

I was thrilled to drive by the new statue of Dignity on the Missouri River last week. I’m torn about it. That wonderful monumental sculpture is either a beacon of justice and liberty or a reminder that we need to do a lot better. Maybe it’s both. In any event, we have no business electing anyone to any office in South Dakota who hasn’t seen the monument in person, who can’t tell us what the artist wanted to convey, and who doesn’t have something stirring and authentic to say about Her.

I think of Her as the spiritual embodiment of SuAnne Big Crow who may, or may not, have danced the shawl dance at a rowdy basketball game in Deadwood. If she didn’t, she should have. If she did, I wish I would have been there. I wish everybody in America would have been there. What a night. Maybe it’s on YouTube.

Our poor little state; we have so much to offer as various candidates for governor pointed out at the annual Governor’s conference, and we are so insular and small-minded about so many things. I actually had a woman at a fast food joint in Little Falls, Minnesota, tell me she was sorry to hear I was from South Dakota! Little Falls! I was speechless. Well, I laughed out loud and patted her hand. On the drive back, I thought about what she said. The more I thought, the more I wondered if she had a point.

To whom much is given, much is expected. We need to try harder, especially those who would lead us.

Frank Carroll is a freelance writer and columnist. He can be reached by emailing frankcarrollpfm@gmail.com or visiting blackhillsforestpros.com.