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Matt Michels: Collective Hive Mind Superior to Individual Genius

To the Republicans Are Really Marxists file, add this statement from Lieutenant Governor Matt Michels on preparations for the as-yet nebulous Blue Ribbon Stalling Tactic on education:

We might be smart individually but collectively we're brilliant [Lt. Gov. Matt Michels, interview with WNAX Radio, 2015.02.24].

In other words, Lt. Gov. Michels and his boss Dennis Daugaard value groupthink over individual genius. Hey, that's why we have Common Core, right?

Update 11:08 CST: Blogger John Tsitrian questions the Daugaard-Michels Administration's collective brilliance given our state economy's soft performance.


  1. Paul Seamans 2015.02.24

    I think that Matt Michels has a misplaced belief in his intellectual capabilities, as well as those of the legislative body. I have yet to see any spark of "brilliance" come out of this years legislature. Maybe this brilliance doesn't show until they are in task force mode.

  2. Craig 2015.02.24

    I know because the statement was said by a Republican many here aren't allowed to agree with it, but I'll go on record as saying I believe Michels is right.

    There is a reason we use juries to decide many criminal cases instead of allowing a judge to make the final call.

    There is a reason we have a school board instead of just allowing the Super to make the big decisions.

    There is a reason why we have a Congress and President rather than a Monarchy or Dictator.

    There is a reason why the best leaders that you can think of are those who have built the strongest teams. The best of us understand the importance of differing viewpoints and although there are captains of industry and Presidents and CEOs and religious leaders who may appear to have been handling everything on their own the truth is they are in those positions because of those around them.

    We generally are better together than we are apart. We have room for the individual genius of course, but there are times when genius is stifled by a barrier that only other minds can overcome. There is also the limits all humans suffer from - emotion, irrationality, bias, ignorance... all of which are often minimized or neutralized when we work as a group.

    Granted there are risks when you end up with a group of 'yes men' or a group comprised of members who are afraid of challenging authority or fail to speak out but instead follow the status quo or what they feel is the universal viewpoint. Yet even in those cases you still find a minority opinion - one that forces the others to step outside of their comfort zone and/or defend their view against the opposition.

    You can probably cite examples where individual genius suffered from a group which was holding it back (Galileo, Darwin et al) but more times than not the power of many emboldens genius rather than restrains it.

  3. mike from iowa 2015.02.24

    Who says you aren't allowed to agree or disagree?

  4. jerry 2015.02.24

    In February, you get Ground Hog day and Matt Michels Day, both are irrelevant to what the conditions are, but only one gets to show his brilliance of getting paid a 100 grand to do nothing.

  5. Curt 2015.02.24

    Craig -
    Are you drinking the Blue Ribbon already? The fact is that it is the constitutional duty of the legislature to provide for a system of public education in this state. They could but they haven't.

  6. leslie 2015.02.24

    random thots-

    we have a lt. gov?

    you didn't build that! (we did)

    "guttersnipe, liar" foxes bill oreilly "looking down the barrel of an m-16" cbs' bill oreilly.

    "looking into the tube of an RPG" nbc's brian williams.

    "elect obama and i'll be dead or in prison" journey to the center of your mind guitar solo's ted nugent.

    "you lie" GOP's rep. idiot

    "go back to the rez" throwing, spraying beer from box in rapid city ice arena. (5-10-15-20 visitors in box didn't see, hear or do anything. rapid city journal's anon saw the "allen 57" disrespect our flag, anthem or pledge (originally required holding arm in air rather than over chest).

  7. Jana 2015.02.24

    Lt. Governor Michaels must be exclusionary in his thoughts about collective thinking. Obviously he doesn't think that the collective will of the people of South Dakota should be included. Witness the tampering with the votes the people have made on abortion, 1234, minimum wage, GOED slush funds etc.

    In each of these cases the legislature has given the middle finger salute to the collective brilliance of the people. Heck, the Governor's office even called voters stupid.

    Maybe the Lt. Governor would like to expand on his thoughts.

  8. Jim 2015.02.24

    Sometimes it does feel we are all drones and workers and the GOP establishment is the queen.

  9. John 2015.02.24

    This would never gotten us the light bulb.

  10. Craig 2015.02.24

    John: "This would never gotten us the light bulb."

    Ah John... you're mistaken. In fact the standard incadescent lightbulb wasn't an invention of Thomas Edison as you may believe, but rather a work of Edison's team. Edison was wise enough to hire Francis Upton who worked together with a team to research possible alternatives and build upon prior concepts. Edison was a visionary perhaps, but even as brilliant as he was - he still relied upon other minds to make his ideas come to live.

    By the way... one of Edison's other employees was named Nikola Tesla - the father of AC power, the modern electric motor, and many other inventions that we use each and every day. Clearly Edison was a great leader and knew how to surround himself with great minds.

    @Curt - I'm speaking in general terms and not in reference to the specific Blue Ribbon commission etc.

  11. mike from iowa 2015.02.24

    Good to excellent post from John T. He haz them knuckledraggers dancing to his beat.

  12. Jake Cummings 2015.02.24

    Craig, the issue becomes whether or not the blue ribbon panels, workforce summits, etc. are:
    1). generating objective, "data-driven" strategies
    2). whether the powers that be truly consider the recommendations of those bodies and take concrete action, or whether they selectively adopt strategies that serve their own agendas

    I agree that collaboration can be a great tool, but unfortunately, the Administration and many legislators fail to earnestly engage in that collaboration.

  13. leslie 2015.02.24

    thx for link to tsitrian's brilliant piece, jana

  14. Moses 2015.02.24

    Like Matt Michaels will do anything for educatio like his boss Do Nothing.

  15. Wayne Pauli 2015.02.24

    we are now into year 13 of legislative and executive branches that are not friends to education. I know I always get raised eyebrows and under your breath swearing when I say that we have not had a friend to education since Bill Janklow left office. I am a Democrat who voted for the post Mickelsen Janklow. maybe he feathered my nest, but he did appreciate education. Rounds...No...Daugaard...absolutely hates it.

  16. mike from iowa 2015.02.24

    Too many cooks spoil the broth.

  17. Curt 2015.02.24

    Mr Pauli -
    All that's lacking in the Rounds/Daugaard/Michels cabal is leadership - and maybe some political will.

  18. Tim 2015.02.24

    Well, it's nice of the Lt Gov to finally explain why they let ALEC write all of the important legislation.

  19. Owen 2015.02.24

    The one thing Craig this so-called Blue Ribbon panel has already been done-many many times.
    That's like Edison inventing the light bulb and 20 years later doing the same thing

  20. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.02.24

    Craig is right on the button regarding the value of teamwork. He's also right that team members must feel valued and safe to do valuable work.

    It appears to me that the SDRP is a lousy team. I take that back. They are not a team at all. They are a group of individuals, nearly all of whom are silenced and intimidated by the ones at the top, who have power and control and wield it capriciously.

    The ones at the top are definitely not leaders. They are also not elected officials. They are Grover Norquist, Kochs, Sheldon Adelstein, the Waltons, ExxonMobil, etc.

  21. Darwin 2015.02.25

    Quote from Craig "There is a reason why we have a Congress and President rather than a Monarchy or Dictator."
    We have a President? Here I thought we had a Dictator!

  22. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.02.25

    Nope Darwin. The Dictator is either Charlie Chaplin or the SDRP.

  23. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.02.25

    Tim, I live in MN now, and the respect for ordinary citizens is light years different from SD. We matter. Dayton is not owned by anyone. He is a true liberal.

  24. leslie 2015.02.25

    re: daugaard's STEM v. STEM plus liberal arts-our gov. wants productive work force specifically trained for corporate needs as they change, mobility of work force, and without worthless liberal arts focus-seems to differ from SDSU advertising on SDPR:

    "Don't just learn about the world...learn how to impact it" SDSU!! sounds like a liberal education concept.

    Daugaard-we are confused??!! oh,...daugaard does not have higher education expertise nor philosophy. he's a lawyer who worked at BHCH.

    cheap skate! :)

  25. leslie 2015.02.25

    darwin-tell us how you really feel. veto stung huh?

  26. leslie 2015.02.25

    matt- alot like your statement distancing dennis from EB5 malfeasance, and daugaard failures to monitor as lt. gov and as gov. 2.13.14 smaokeout excerpts from GOED audit.

    matt- "i can't understand how it (cash payments all blamed on benda, not bollen) was happening before,...." brilliant

  27. Roger Cornelius 2015.02.25

    If President Obama was a dictator, Darwin would probably be in prison.

  28. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.02.26

    That statement about China makes absolutely no sense.

  29. Jake Cummings 2015.02.27

    Deb, I think Winston may have framed the comment in a somewhat misleading manner. When I listened to that portion of the video, it did not seem like Daugaard was comparing the "communistic socialism" [not sure what Daugaard meant by that hybridization, as I am more familiar with China being described as a market-socialist/quasi-capitalist nation (] to the U.S. economic system. He was trying to advocate establishing ties with Chinese government so that their government would not simply "play gotcha" (Daugaard's verbiage) with businesses who may run afoul of Chinese regulations. Maybe they had some EB-5 quid pro quo taking place.

    What I loved about the video is that Secretary Costello later noted that the trade mission was funded by a federal grant, yet another example of the federal government, which conservatives rail against, subsidizing SD activities. In addition, Daugaard pointed to China as an example of a nation largely untouched by recent recessions; however, that characterization is in dispute for reasons such as fabricated data and reports from the Chinese government. This resource highlights concerns about China's economic environment (

  30. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.02.27

    The feds paid for that trade mission? Lovely.

  31. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.02.27

    Thanks for the clarification Jake. It was helpful.

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