South Dakota is a state built on tradition. As such, those who live here expect their elected officials to meet certain standards. This tradition of standards is witnessed through the level of leadership that South Dakotans expect to see.
That is a word that is just thrown around a lot in today’s world. But not many people, especially those elected to represent us, know what it means to be a real leader. Throughout the course of this nation’s history, many great people have shared their thoughts on what leadership is. Unfortunately, sometimes their words get muffled by the world around us.
"Leadership must be based on goodwill. Goodwill does not mean posturing and, least of all, pandering to the mob. It means obvious and wholehearted commitment to helping followers.” - Admiral James B. Stockdale
A real leader stands up and is counted when the time comes because they know that the ultimate responsibility lies with them. By taking the mantle of responsibility, a leader is acknowledging their role within a defined system. They take a stand and take responsibility not to further themselves but to help the people who have asked for their leadership. In order to lead, a real leader must first understand how to follow.
"Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand." - General Colin Powell
A responsible leader seeks solutions to problems rather than problems that would hinder solutions. Leadership is knowing that you cannot make 100% of the people happy 100% of the time. Instead, a leader would rather give 100% of themselves to ensure the best for those they lead 100% of the time. That means being proud of the accomplishments they help achieve and acknowledging the consequences of the decisions they made . . . whether they be good or bad. A true leader doesn’t shy away from their record. They stand by it and do their best to defend it in a way that every person can comprehend. They do this because their record is what they deemed the best course of action throughout their career.
“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but rather a molder of consensus.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
As voters, we have a responsibility. A responsibility that has been passed down from generation to generation. It is our sacred duty to select those people whom we believe represent us, South Dakota, and our beliefs. This person should be beholden to us, the voters, and to us alone. South Dakota doesn’t seek an individual who will blindly follow the direction of an elite few. Instead, South Dakota will continue to maintain the highest standard when it comes to selecting leaders. South Dakotans seek those individuals who will be our voice, our vote, and our standard-bearers . . . not rubber stamps for a liberal president’s agenda.
In South Dakota, leaders aren’t born – they’re chosen.