In light of the recent drama surrounding South Dakota Governor, Kristi Noem’s status as a leader in the liberty conservative movement, I’d like to weigh in with some facts and opinions about the controversial governor. Along with many others in the conservative movement, a few members of The Liberty Block’s editorial staff have opined that Noem has totally squandered her chances for a 2024 presidential run and has even relegated herself to the bottom of the barrel in the conservative movement, rendering herself another Romney or McCain. Others in the conservative movement believe that she remains the best leader for liberty in the united states. So, who is right? Do both arguments have merit?
Here are my thoughts:
Kirsti Noem is a politician. She’s a pretty good one. This is not necessarily a jab at her; every person in public office plays politics to some extent. Those that refuse to play politics never really see any electoral or legislative success. However, those who become typical politicians lose the favor of their electorate. Being sincere and transparent means alienating massive chunks of voters, so politicians seek to remain as uncontroversial and popular as possible.
The good: Kristi Noem appears to be the only governor in the united states that never implemented corona-fascism. She stood up to tremendous pressures from all sides and never forced mask-wearing, never shut down businesses, and never mandated vaccines on individuals. This is one of the most courageous and controversial things that any public official has ever done, and this alone should make anyone who values liberty support and respect her. The other 49 state governors violated many laws and natural rights by shutting out their legislatures and ruling as dictators for at least a short period. My own dictator in New Hampshire, former liberty champion Chris Sununu rendered the legislature irrelevant and issued 86 tyrannical executive orders over a 16 month period. Needless to say, he has totally lost favor with many pro-liberty activists in the free state.
As soon as she was elected, the South Dakota governor signed SB47 into law, allowing all non-felons to carry concealed firearms without a permit. This makes her one of the most pro-liberty governors. Again, this cannot be overlooked or taken away from her. She stood up to massive pressures from the left and signed a momentous bill that drastically improved many lives by allowing them to exercise their natural right to self-defense.
As governor, Noem has signed multiple bills protecting fetal life. Again, this is something that we constantly see conservative champions fail to do. She stood up to political pressure and continued to support life.
Young Americans For Liberty (YAL) invited Noem to speak at their conference in Dallas in August of 2020. At the last moment, the anti-liberty city council of Dallas cancelled the conference. Noem spoke at CPAC in 2020 and 2021.
Kristi Noem has vowed to refuse to accept any illegal aliens that Biden attempts to relocate to South Dakota. Under Obama, only eight governors refused to accept refugees from anti-American countries. It takes guts to defy a leftist president.
The bad: A few months ago, many conservatives were disappointed when Kristi Noem rejected a bill that would have prevented transgender athletes from competing in sports that do not align with their biological gender. Despite initially supporting the bill, Noem issued a ‘style and form’ veto for HB1217, sending it back to the legislature for modifications. The conservative movement jumped on Noem immediately and called her out for being a sissy with no backbone to stand up to the left. The socially conservative governor argued that the legislation as written would be rendered ineffective by the courts the moment it is passed; the legislature could make the bill much more durable if they fixed some parts of it. Conservatives rejected this argument and doubled down on their condemnations of Noem. I have been conflicted on the issue. A part of me thinks that she is a fool for preemptively stopping a bill out of fear that the leftist NCAA lawyers may kill it. At the same time, I think that there could be merit to improving a bill before it is killed by the courts. Regardless, this debacle spelled the beginning of Noem’s fall from grace to many conservatives. Noem also launched DefendTitleIXNow.com to help protect biological girls in sports.
One of the most contentious battles in the united states at the moment involves employers compelling workers to get the COVID vaccine. Conservatives like Ron Desantis have prohibited businesses from forcing their employees to get the vaccine. Pro-freedom lawmakers in South Dakota like Reps. Jon Hansen and Scott Odenbach would like to ban private businesses from mandating the shots for employees. Noem refuses to support the bill on the grounds that she does not believe that the government should ever compel businesses to do anything. I agree with Noem that the government should have zero authority over businesses. However, I have recently come to terms with the sad truth that businesses are no longer private; the government makes the majority of decisions for private businesses via hard and soft coercion (licensing, courts, lawsuits, incentives, regulations, etc.). Therefore, if Noem were as purely consistent as she claims to be about economic freedom and property rights, she would totally eliminate all taxes and regulations on businesses. Until she does that, she should support banning the semi-private companies from mandating COVID vaccines.
It is important to point out that while I think that Noem is wrong on this issue, I do not believe that she is 100% anti-freedom or that she has no spine. She clearly supports freedom and clearly has a spine. She stood against corona-fascism much more strongly than any other governor in the united states. It is clear that she opposes vaccine mandate bans because she truly believes that such a law is beyond the rightful powers of the government. And she is right, but she is also wrong. Conservatives like Matt Walsh are idiotic for saying that Noem is totally useless to the liberty conservative movement. The blogger/podcaster said that Noem is just a pretty face and would be nothing without her good looks and “you put 50 pounds on her and another 20 years… I don’t think she gets any of the hype.” Walsh went too far for nearly everyone, including conservatives who oppose many of Noem’s policies.
In 2019, Noem vetoed a bill that would have legalized hemp. Liberty conservatives, including those in the South Dakota legislature, believe that people should be free to do what they want, as long as they harm nobody. Despite the claims made by Noem in the last section, she clearly does not believe that people should be free to grow whatever they wish. She has also signed a bill into law that makes it illegal to consume any cannabis in a vehicle. She really seems to hate cannabis.
When I asked her a question in a small meeting, Noem gave a classically disappointing answer that only a politician could manage. She did not even come near answering my question, which was pretty straightforward:
“How tyrannical must DC become before you begin to consider nullification or full independence?”
As I mentioned earlier, politicians have excellent instincts for avoiding controversial topics. And state independence is the most controversial topic in modern politics.