PIERRE, SD – Leadership comes in many forms, and most of them are revealed during times of extraordinary challenge. Dealing with a pandemic panic slamming the United States certainly qualifies as one of those times, and there is no shortage of opportunities for leadership.
In our own State of North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper has followed other states in first closing bars and restaurants, then followed other states in ordering more businesses closed and restricting assembly, and finally following other states in issuing a statewide ‘Stay-at-Home’ order. The measurable result has been record job losses, sky rocketing unemployment claims, and a fundamental erosion of core liberties in the name of a collective good and in contravention of our constitution.
Before and after the mandates, North Carolina COVID-19 profile was among the best in the country; it still is. Following others, however, has resulted in a disastrous situation which may lead to even worse outcomes over the long term than the threat the virus itself.
That’s what following looks like.
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This is what leadership looks like:
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem gave a press conference on Wednesday in which she focused on her role as governor, the role of government, and taking the oath to the South Dakota and U.S. Constitutions seriously.
At a time in which the sheer inertia, the monumental societal pressure, is pushing local, state leaders to follow others in shutting down their states, Governor Noem is a beacon of leadership that measures prudent crisis response with respect for citizens’ rights.
“Our constitution ensures that the citizen’s right is protected. I agree with the role of our government as set forth in our state and in our national constitution. I took an oath to uphold these constitutions.
My role with respect to public safety is something I take very seriously. The people themselves are primarily responsible for their safety. They are the ones that are entrusted with expansive freedoms – they are free to exercise their rights to work, worship, and play – or to stay at home, or to conduct social distancing. […]
The calls to apply a one-size-fits all approach to this problem in South Dakota is herd mentality, not leadership.”
This isn’t the first time, or only way Noem has showed leadership. At the end of March, when public fear was perhaps at its apex, the South Dakota governor spoke to citizens in a neighbor to neighbor speech that inspired calm amid chaos.
In times of crisis, the notion of ‘We the people’ often gets conflated with ‘our government.’
‘We the people must be vigilant with social distancing if we hope to avoid a possible overwhelming of out healthcare system,’ quickly translates to, ‘Our government most order us to social distance,’ and objectors are deemed threats to the common good.
North Carolina is not South Dakota; but we certainly aren’t New York City, either.
We have one of the lowest confirmed case counts, lowest death rates, and lowest number of hospitalizations in the country, more encouraging when one considers the relative size, population and mobility of our state. While social distancing can be credited with blunting the spread and spike, that is a function of We The People, not a credit to a government willing to subvert their rights in the name of their collective safety.
Governor Noem of certainly understands that. If there are true leaders to follow during these uncertain times of maximum consequence, she is definitely one of them.