SOUTH DAKOTA STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Pierre, South Dakota 57501
GOVERNOR WILLIAM J. JANKLOW
JANUARY 6, 1979
Chief Justice Wollman, Members of the Supreme Court, Constitutional Officers, I guess I can call him cousin, Reverend Jim Gullickson, Father Murray, ladies and gentlemen of South Dakota:
I can honestly say that I stand here today--and it’s really not a Bill Janklow word--with a great sense of “humility,” and at the same time with a great deal of pride. As I said the night of the election, as we look out among just this group of people here, and the rest of the citizens of this State, we can see that today, we are not really Republicans in advocacy, Democrats in advocacy or Independents in advocacy. We are all South Dakotans gathered here together--688,000 people. We have common problems, we have common ideas, we have common goals and for many of us, we have a common destiny.
Yesterday, someone said to me, “Janklow, everybody likes it that you tell it like it is. . .until you do, and then you get into trouble.” But as we embark upon the stewardship of this State for the next four years, I am reminded of the old story of the mountain climbers who were climbing a tall mountain in the Himalayas. As they neared the top, they ran into a big storm, so they found refuge in a cabin and stayed in that cabin. When the storm was over, just as they were about to leave, another storm came up. So, they found refuge again. Then another storm and another storm. After about six months of this, a group of natives came by. The mountain climbers asked one of them, “When will these storms end?” The native answered, “Didn’t you know ... there are always storms near the top!” I believe we must climb the distance to the top. We’ll never make it waiting for the storms to quit. And that’s what I really think of as we begin this administration.
There are times when we will speak out boldly. There are times when we will engage in serious, confidential diplomacy. But we will always engage in responsible stewardship.
For the last twelve months, we have traveled this State. We have not sat down and invented what we thought were the problems of the people of South Dakota. We have listened to the citizens and they have told us how they feel about education, for example. We have learned that one of the few things that separates America from all the rest of the people of the world is the right to a basic free public education, whether you happen to be born white, black, red, yellow or a mixture. It does not make any difference in this country. You have a right to a free public education that opens up the doors and broadens the horizons of what the majority of us feel are the most beautiful things about America. And as we embark upon the challenges that we have in elementary, secondary and higher education, we must keep these things in mind.
We could also talk about our transportation problems. It does not take a genie to understand that we in South Dakota are facing an absolute disaster with respect to our railroad situation. Our highways are beginning to break up. And, they’re talking about removing some of the airline service we have for our citizens. Again, we recognize that this isn’t a Republican problem or a Democrat problem. It’s all our problem and we all have to work together to work for solutions.
We’ve also got water problems--something that’s literally torn the guts out of our State in the last several years. And, as the rhetoric goes on and on and on, there has been no meaningful development. Those of us who are my age and older will not pay the penalty in the long run, but our sons and our daughters and our grandchildren will pay the penalty for what we may fail to do or for what we may do over the next few years in water development . It is not enough to talk about staking out a claim to water. The resources of America belong to all its people. You can only stake out a claim to those resources you are willing to put to use. And that means it is our responsibility again as Republicans, Democrats and Independents together, to find a way. We also have the problem of declining rural prosperity. For fifty years, every candidate who has run for office has campaigned about preserving the family farm. Meanwhile, family after family must sell their farms because they can no longer economically produce and economically compete.
There are 500,000,000 people who go to bed every night hungry and undernourished in this world--12,000 people a day starve to death. It is not only a governmental failing but a human failing that people starve while we have an overabundance of food in South Dakota and in America.
Yes, we would like to export our agricultural foods stuffs and commodities to the rest of the world. Yes, we would like to sell them to the third world countries. But there is a greater purpose than just for the profit. It is the understanding that if people could go to bed at night all over the world with a full stomach, they could spend more time thinking about the ideals, the goals and the philosophy of what their governmental structure ought to be, and how they ought to conduct their lives as opposed to who they are mad at or with whom they want to quarrel. Perhaps then they will recognize what the founding fathers of this country recognized two hundred years ago when they came to America, and then perhaps they too will choose the democratic way of life that we all enjoy in South Dakota and the United States. There is also economic development. Again, everyone who runs for office says that they are for economic development. We know that economic development will bring us profits, bring us wages for our working people, and bring us the capital investment that is necessary for us to be able to advance in the State of South Dakota and address our other problems and issues.
We have many senior citizens in our State. When we talk about senior citizens, it is not enough to remember them on their birthdays and at Christmas. It is a 365-day-a-year obligation. Those are the people who made this State what it is for us today and those are the people who made this country what it is for us today.
Another thing that we must recognize in both political parties is that the government can no longer solve everyone’s problems in every area. We have to recognize that people solve people’s problems and not the government. When we run into a problem, it is really not right to always turn to the government and ask the government for a solution and then criticize the government because the government then becomes involved in our daily lives to a greater extent. The government will only become as involved in the people’s lives as the people allow it to become. I am not much of a person for quotes, but I could not say it any better than Abraham Lincoln did in 1860 when he said that the legitimate object of the government is to do those things that people cannot do for themselves. In all other things, the government ought not to interfere.
Fortunately, we in South Dakota never really forgot Lincoln’s message and we can now give a lesson to some of the people of America who have forgotten it.
There is one special thing that I feel very strongly about. As an individual, as Governor and as the Chief Executive of this State, I recognize we have 688,000 people, some of them red, some of them white, some of them black, and some of them yellow. And, I am honestly tired of the occasional racist talk we have in South Dakota. I strongly feel that it is inappropriate for anyone to address any human being or talk about any human being as a squaw, or a buck, or as a honkey. It is inappropriate for anyone to ever make any slighting comments or have any negative personal feelings with respect to the color of someone’s skin.
In alleviating this problem, the government can set an example by treating every single citizen the same, whether they are red or white, whether they come from the good or the bad side of the tracks, whether they happen to be Protestant, Catholic or Jew. It makes no difference. When we get locked into only one viewpoint or one attitude, we should realize that stubbornness has only one advantage. Those who are stubborn always know what they will be thinking tomorrow. We cannot afford to be stubborn in this State; we cannot afford the luxury.
As we recognize that the government cannot solve all of our problems, we must also understand that there are many things we can do as individuals. We do not need a government program to clean up the community where we live if we can clean it up ourselves. We would not need a government program to clean up the ditches along the highway if everyone took care of the land that really belongs to all of us. There are many things that we can do as individuals within our communities and within our daily lives where we do not have to call upon the government for assistance. We should also remember that the government will only become involved if we fail in our mission to do these things ourselves.
As we embark on the next four years, probably the most honest thing that I can tell you is that I realize we are going to make mistakes. I will not make any bones about that. I have never said we are perfect. I have never said our way is the only way. I have never said our ideas are the only ideas.
But, I can promise you one thing. Lowell’s and my administration will be honest. It will be open. It will be your government. And when I say that, I must also say that we will be outspoken. We will endeavor to carry out the campaign pledges and promises that we made to you, all of you citizens of South Dakota.
Fifty-seven percent of the people voted for us. As I take the oath of office today, we realize it is our responsibility to represent those people who voted against us as well as those who voted for us. How we deal with the government has nothing to do with how someone voted in the election. And every one of us who is in elected office recognizes that responsibility. Sure, we will have our political differences, but I ask Republicans to remember that Democrats are not the common enemy. And I ask Democrats to understand that Republicans are not your common enemy. Our enemies are things like poverty, prejudice, bigotry, misexpenditure of tax dollars, and wasteful government--these are everyone’s enemies. Though we may have different personal philosophies as we approach the methods on how to eliminate our common problems, we must do it on the basis of our common goals and not according to our personal or personality differences.
As I close, I would like to say this: we recognize that we are only on this planet for a short period of time. In the history of the world, we only have a very small part to play. The graveyards are full of people who thought the world could not get along without them. Somehow the world does. Those of us who are lucky enough to have been given the stewardship of our fellow men and women for a time have to recognize that we have an awesome responsibility. As we go about that task, we are going to do it with openness. We are going to do it by speaking out, and we are going to do it in partnership with the other branches of government. Most importantly, we will recognize always that you people out there who get up and go to work, who go to your religious services, who vote in the elections, and who pay your taxes, are the ones that own this business that we call our government. And we will never forget or deviate from the conviction set down in our State motto several decades ago, that in South Dakota: “Under God, the People Rule.”
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