Thoughtful voters across the nation must envy South Dakota for having two quality candidates in the race for U.S. House of Representatives.
Intelligent and informed, both Republican Dusty Johnson and Democrat Tim Bjorkman have focused mostly on consequential problems and opportunities, ignoring topics that offer cheap political gains. Their campaigns have fostered a minimum of extremist rhetoric and malicious exaggeration. They have appealed mainly to our hopes rather than fears.
Despite a few vapid television commercials, both have also given listeners an honest description of where they stand on important issues and how they would operate if elected. Both pledge to be pragmatic creators rather than showboating obstructors.
Their campaigns have been like a fresh South Dakota autumn breeze. Let’s hope it doesn’t portend a cruel political blizzard before Nov. 6.
Bjorkman has rightly identified anonymous outside campaign contributions as a means by which special interests buy votes contrary to the public good. Bjorkman has set an example by refusing PAC money. He also has correctly identified the country’s lack of affordable health care as an insidious cancer on our culture. As a former circuit court judge, he saw how untreated mental health and addiction issues bred criminal behavior. Bjorkman sees that rising health care costs have eaten our wage increases, and how they make American goods less competitive globally. Lastly, he knows that a consensus on immigration will be essential to bridging this nation’s deep divide.
Johnson, meanwhile, is an energetic, old-style Reagan conservative, emphasizing individual responsibility, limited government and strength abroad.
He has shown an admirable independence. Johnson departs from his party’s attempt at pandering to voters by making debt-digging tax cuts permanent. He also rejects the wholesale abandonment of the Affordable Care Act without a working replacement. Johnson further departs from President Trump on his tendency to label all unflattering reports as fake news.
Some will reject Johnson as a career politician, but what he knows and does matter more. Johnson served as former chief of staff to Gov. Dennis Daugaard and has gained experience implementing public policy. Knowing all aspects of the political game, he would use that to the state’s benefit. On a variety of issues, Johnson can quickly get into the technical weeds, the details upon which laws typically succeed or fail.
The Rapid City Journal gives its endorsement to Johnson on the strength of his administrative background, his understanding of policies at a granular level, and on his close reflection of the views held by most South Dakotans.
The structure of the House today, where power is concentrated in the hands of a few leaders and committee chairs, works to frustrate most visionaries seeking wholesale change. Johnson intends to foster respect among his colleagues, become a trusted voice on rural issues, and represent his state’s wishes. Meanwhile, he hopes to deliver small victories for South Dakota.
Voters must insist he remains true to his word.
It would serve Johnson well if he develops some of his opponent’s compassion and understanding of human contradictions. The Journal hopes Johnson will work toward health care solutions that serve rich and poor, reducing overall costs while fairly treating old and young. To ensure the continued long-term success of our republic, Johnson should also carry Bjorkman’s banner of working to achieve a consensus on immigration. Compromise, reason and facts must be the guide. Lastly, while we applaud Johnson’s conviction to reduce the national debt, we fear solutions that will fall heavily on the poor, unfortunate and elderly. The load must be broadly shared.
Dusty Johnson brings a positive spirit to conservative values. He wants everyone to know the meaningfulness of hard work. He will serve us best in our nation’s capital.