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South Dakotans Know Best

By Sen. John Thune

September 24, 2021

In Washington, Democrats are doing everything they can to expand the power of the federal government – incremental steps toward achieving their broader goal of giving Washington, D.C., more power over South Dakota and our way of life. I know that the last thing South Dakotans want are more rules and regulations coming from out-of-touch Washington bureaucrats, and I don’t blame them.

This summer, Democrats held votes on legislation that would put the federal government – instead of states – in charge of our elections. Their so-called “For the People Act” would create a pathway for a massive federal takeover of our electoral systems by undermining state voter ID laws, spending taxpayer dollars on political campaigns, and imposing troubling new burdens on free speech. Fortunately, these votes failed, and I proudly opposed this federal power grab. Let me be clear: there is absolutely zero legitimate reason to have the federal government dictating states’ election policies.

The excuse Democrats are using to bully states and push their partisan federal election legislation is that they think it will strengthen their precarious hold on power and improve their chances of winning future elections. My message to them is that attempting to stack the deck will not work. And South Dakota election officials are doing just fine without having their every move dictated by Washington bureaucrats. South Dakota had the highest number of ballots cast in its history in the 2020 election. If anything, other states could learn a thing or two from the way we run our elections. 

Unfortunately, the Democrats’ federal power grab doesn’t stop there. They are attempting to pass legislation that would preempt virtually all state restrictions on abortion. Their so-called Women’s Health Protection Act would eliminate just about any abortion restriction adopted by states across the country, including those in South Dakota. Throughout my time in public service, not once have I seen such a radical, anti-life piece of legislation that would make on-demand abortions part of the federal law. 

These are just two examples of a very concerning pattern by Washington Democrats. They continue to assume the federal government can fashion a one-size-fits-all solution to any problem, real or perceived. Instead of focusing on issues like national security and border security – real problems that demand real solutions – they are simply trying to find more ways to give the federal government more power over individuals and states.

The federal government has too much power as it is, and the policies that Democrats are attempting to advance double down on a divisive, government-knows-best approach. It’s disappointing that rather than fulfilling their promise to unify the nation, Democrats continue to pursue a partisan agenda at the expense of states. As a conservative, I’ve always believed in a limited but effective federal government. Government that is closer to those who are governed is more responsive and more accountable. While Democrats clearly disagree, I’ll never stop fighting for the principles of freedom, personal responsibility, and hard work that define what it means to be a South Dakotan.