The high plains and prairies, mineral-rich earth, glacial lakes, and majestic mountains are all found in the Midwestern state of South Dakota. Primarily a rural state, South Dakota consistently ranks nationally in the top ten for production of hay, sunflowers, rye, honey, soybeans, corn, wheat, and cattle. Ancestral home to Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, politicians Tom Daschle and George McGovern, and the iconic Laura Ingalls Wilder, South Dakota encompasses 77,123 square miles, averaging ten people per square mile. If you are searching for wide, open spaces to get your small-town stretch on, this may be the place.
In the north-central part of the state is Mobridge. A map dot of 3,465 chilled out residents and 10-times as many head of cattle. One of those residents is Michele Harrison, born and raised in the area, and fresh from a public service stint representing the people of the 23rd State Legislative District from 2015-2017, not seeking another term. A lifelong conservative of 53 years, Harrison appears to be the perfect embodiment of the South Dakota lifestyle.
I caught up with the horse breeder and cattle rancher on a frigid day and dove into politics with ease. Harrison loves to talk shop; whether horses or political horse-trading, and well, so does this writer – so we bonded.
The economics of South Dakota are high on the list of Harrison’s must-haves from our national gatekeepers. Oh, did I mention she is the Executive Director of Mobridge Economic Development Corp? Just add that to the many hats she dons. And unlike Representative Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Harrison wears the real cowboy hat with flair and authority.
Harrison lamented the long over-due tax reform and praised President Trump’s efforts to push it through before the end of the year. With an insight into the dreary past eight years of over-regulation and taxing small businesses, she sees the Trump era bringing about economic growth that was non-existent for a decade.
In between horse tales and weather woes, finally, we spoke of energy and the controversial Keystone Pipeline and the recent oil leak near the town of Amherst. With a such a rural area as Mobridge – the nearest Walmart is 100 miles to the north – viable and transportable energy is a hot topic. There aren’t a lot of mass transportation options available, and it seems the big city dwellers don’t understand the economics of light rail and electric bus systems in the boondocks. It just isn’t feasible in most of the flyover states.
When we spoke before her interview, Harrison quipped, “I am not sure I have any jaw-dropping revelations, but I am pretty typical small town, mid-America type.” I agree; she is the quintessential mid-western woman. Family, friends, and stewardship of her homeland are her top priorities. She cares for livestock, her community, and the state, and like most fly-over state residents, enjoys the quiet lifestyle away from the Leftist coastal cities with the crazy out of touch ideals.
We have all seen the mighty power of the rural folks rise-up to the un-American push for a socialistic society. Harrison, along with the rest of middle America, defeated that tired agenda in 2016. And that is the best jaw-dropping revelation of the past quarter-century, Michele, and one in which you were a participant. Just ask the media; they are still shell-shocked.