‘While The Media Was Attacking Me, The People Were Watching’
Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who has faced harsh criticism from the mainstream media for refusing to shut her state down in response to Covid-19, outlined some lessons South Dakota has learned from her unique approach to the crisis.
“My approach to this virus was to provide South Dakotans with all the information that I could, and then trust them to exercise their freedom to make the best decision for themselves and for their families,” Noem said Monday. “The mainstream media has spent many hours and nearly endless column inches attacking me for that, but countless South Dakotans have thanked me for trusting them.”
When Noem refused to shut down South Dakota’s businesses and churches or to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, the media slammed her, predicting massive casualties in the state.
“Rescinding orders that people stay at home — or declining to issue them, as in the case of South Dakota and four other states — offers plenty of peril,” the Washington Post warned.
But contrary to the media narrative predicting a massive outbreak, South Dakota has seen less Covid-19 deaths than 44 other states. The total number of Covid-19 related deaths in South Dakaota is 51, ranking them above only North Dakota, Hawaii, Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska in number of deaths.
“The mainstream media attack those who push for freedom and for people to be able to make the best decisions for their families,” Noem said. “While the media was attacking me, the people were watching. As many of my peers applied a one-size-fits-all lockdown, ordinary Americans saw what we were doing and many said, ‘that’s exactly the way I want my government to treat me. To trust me, not dictate to me.’”
She also said that South Dakota’s response to the pandemic has drawn people to the state, not driven them away. On a recent family trip to South Dakota’s famous Black Hills, Noem noted that there were “license plates from every corner of the country.”
“I’ve never seen so many visitors,” she said, inviting businesses that are facing closures and regulatory burdens in other states to come to South Dakota.
“More freedom, not more government, is the answer,” Noem said, reflecting on the past few months. “Freedom is a better friend of true science than government-centered and government-controlled science. Freedom focuses our politics on persuasion and the intellectual strengths of our positions, not on control, coercion, or the heavy hand of government.”
Watch Governor Noem’s full address here:
Elle Reynolds is an intern at the Federalist, and a senior at Patrick Henry College studying government and journalism. You can follow her work on Twitter at @_etreynolds.