“Let’s just pray that 100 years from now, a couple guys can stand in this yard and have a decent conversation and share ideas like we just did. Then we’ll know we made it.”
I spent the night in the side yard of Brad Busch’s little farm near Belvedere, South Dakota. Brad used to own a plumbing practice in Sioux Falls. He and his wife moved out to central South Dakota where they raise some draft horses, a few lambs, and enough chickens and turkeys to keep their larder full. In his low blue jeans and suspenders, Brad looks like he is as much a part of rural farm country as a stack of hay. Before tucking in for the night Brad told me it wasn’t worth interviewing him because he didn’t have anything to say, and then we talked for an hour and a half over the back of his pick-up truck.
The first thing Brad told me when I gave him a very general overview of my project was, “You know, there’s good and bad things about having a lot of immigrants here. I worked a lot all over the state, and pretty much everywhere there are Mexican workers. You get to know them and all they want is good things for their kids and for their families. They are hard workers and want the same thing that anyone else wants. But then it seems they bring in a lot of drugs, too, the cartels.” I pointed out to him that there are a number of drug rings that are not Mexico-based, and he agreed.
I asked Brad what he thought we could do to heal the divides in our country. He didn’t even hesitate. “Politics should not be a lifetime job. We need people who work like us for a living who then go and represent us. My dad was a friend of Hubert Humphrey’s. We had him at our house for dinner one time; just one Secret Service agent. Now you can’t get anywhere close to the people who are supposed to represent us.”
“I’m no liberal or socialist, Brad said, “but we have homeless people in our cities even here in South Dakota and no one does anything for them. That’s just not right. And the people down on the Pine Ridge where you were? We just put them down there and forget about them. It’s the worst economy in the country and no one in our state government cares a bit about them.”
Brad asked me a bunch of questions: Is it true that a lot of people are leaving California, and why? Who do I think are the “elites”? Do schools still teach “shop”? How do carbon credits fit into the climate change model?
Finally, as it was getting dark, the turkeys were pecking the ground for their last bite before going to bed, and we finished emptying his pick-up of the miscellaneous old items he had bought at a Department of Transportation auction that day, Brad finished off with this: “Let’s just pray that 100 years from now, three guys can stand in this yard and have a decent conversation and share ideas like we just did. Then we’ll know we made it.”