Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota just gets it. What I mean by that is that she doesn’t attempt to play the game many Republicans play, which is to dance around what needs to be done in order to present a good face to the mythical middle. She looks at the facts and she acts on them. If the facts don’t fit whatever the prevailing political narrative is at the time, she doesn’t care.
That led South Dakota to be one of the only states in the union not to lockdown. The result? A death rate nowhere near the top and a caseload that shows nothing unusual compared to other states that did lockdown. As the evidence eventually bore out (see The Lock Downs Were One Big Scam), lockdowns showed essentially no correlation with reduced deaths and caseloads. In fact, the states with the strictest lockdowns consistently show the highest death rates in the country.
But recognizing that the facts aren’t lining up with politicized conventional wisdom is not something Washington is good at, nor are Democrat governors interested in any such pragmatism. So we get more lockdowns in places like New York and California.
Noem stood in the gap, following the science, and didn’t destroy her state’s economy with a pointless lockdown. Now, she’s announcing she’s not going to do it via keeping schools closed this fall either.
Our kids are going to be back in school in South Dakota. Every school district will make a decision that works for their facilities and kids as to what that looks like.
I'm not going to mandate masks. Kids tend to play with their masks and touch them frequently. pic.twitter.com/sP7HYhT8lB
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) July 29, 2020
While many other GOP governors have waffled on this point, Noem plays no games. Schools will be opened because there’s no reason to keep them closed. Districts will have the leeway to decide what mitigation they want to take, as the individual communities will always be able to make those decisions best.
Her comment about masks really caught my eye though. Masks have become a religious rite the last few months, much like lockdowns were early on. In reality, there’s very little science that says masks are an effective deterrent of the virus. Countries like The Netherlands and Norway have almost no mask usage, yet low levels of infection and deaths. Meanwhile, the United States has a mask fetish now and we are seeing spikes in cases. If masks were truly effective, there would be an obvious correlation between their increased usage and caseloads. There isn’t, just like there wasn’t with the lockdowns.
Point being, Noem’s willingness to state the obvious, i.e. that masks haven’t been proven to be largely effective and that children end up messing more with their faces when forced to wear them (which actually does spread the virus), is a breath of fresh air.
We are currently living in a reality obsessed with virtue-signaling over results. Lockdowns and masks take priority over mitigation efforts that actually work. Meanwhile, some teachers’ unions act as if they are going to drop dead if they dare return to work. It’s really great to see a GOP politician be willing to just speak truth and do it without fear.
Noem has a bright future ahead, and I think she’s far more likely to gain traction in 2024 than some other names being batted around.