This morning I read a wonderful, funny and (believe it or not) scholarly paper entitled The Dakota Effect. It first appeared in PSOnline, an electronic journal of the American Political Science Association.
The article (maybe the wittiest academic article I’ve ever read) was written by two political science professors at George Washington University. It is about the statistically significant number of members of Congress who, although they now represent other states, were born in the Dakotas. For those of you who don’t know, South Dakota is where I grew up and where I lived until my mid-30s.
But one of the reasons I love the article is that they nailed a number of the idiosyncrasies of those of us from the plains of Dakota (being positive, they might be called cultural peculiarities). Not surprisingly I suppose, since Lee Sigelman, one of the authors, is a native South Dakotan himself.
The authors write, “…Dakotans…are a proud but humble people. (A cynic would say they are humble because they have so much to be humble about.)”
Well, the first phrase in that description doesn’t apply to me. I don’t know anyone who would put me on their “10 most humble people I know” list. But the parenthetical certainly applies…I have plenty to be humble about.
And maybe that is the reason (along with the cultural peculiarities I learned in the first half of my life) that I am very, very uncomfortable with self-aggrandizement. Several good, and financially successful, friends of mine have pointed out that I would be a much better businessman if I were willing to be a bit more self-promoting. I’m sure they are right, but I’m too old to change now.
But I’m going to make an exception. Last week The Town Talk, the daily newspaper in Alexandria, Louisiana, wrote an editorial in advance of the statewide meeting of the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation at which I spoke on Wednesday. I have inserted the link below. Take a look if you wish. I’m not sure what they wrote is true, but I’d like to think that this is why I really do have the best job in America.