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Influential South Dakota figures weigh in on political climate

Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 6:38 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - It’s one week before the general election and some would argue the US is more divided than ever.

Influential figures such as former Governor Dennis Daugaard and retired State Supreme Court Justice Judith Meierhenry are weighing in on this as well as the future of democracy in the US. They spoke as panelists at Monday’s Sioux Falls Rotary meeting.

As people have differing views about issues and candidates during this general election, Meierhenry and Daugaard say having civil discourse is important.

That involves having conversations that enhance your understanding of others. To accomplish this, Meierhenry has this advice: “To listen to the other person. You can disagree but you don’t have to be disagreeable,” said Meierhenry.

Daugaard recommends surrounding yourself with people who think differently than you instead of just those who think the exact same way.

“It doesn’t add to our knowledge or understanding of the world. It doesn’t advance better solutions,” said Daugaard.

As a democracy, Daugaard says coming to an agreement on solutions is important.

“And if the discourse devolves into personalization and vitriol and name-calling, then the likelihood of that agreement certainly declines, and then our problems go unsolved,” said Daugaard.

Daugaard says this is something political leaders especially need to be mindful of.

“If you don’t have leadership that has a clarity of communication and demonstrable compassion then the opportunity for extreme statements and extreme behaviors is enhanced and that creates violence. It creates all kinds of bad things,” said Daugaard.

In terms of the future of democracy in the US, both Daugaard and Meierhenry say they feel optimistic.

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