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When I was a young girl growing up on our ranch in South Dakota, we had a sign hanging over our pasture gate where we grazed our horses. The sign said, "There’s nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse." 

I didn’t come from a political family, so it wasn’t until years later that I learned this was a quote from President Ronald Reagan. Suddenly, he became my favorite president. Any leader who recognized the value of time spent with horses was a person of good discernment and wisdom in my book. 

Over the years, I’ve learned that looking back can help us move forward in incredible ways. Former leaders and important periods of history remind us of what makes America special.

Ronald Reagan led our country through challenging times on the world stage, yet embraced the humble simplicity of the daily life of an average citizen in America. Recently, I was honored to spend some time at the Reagan Ranch in California. It is maintained by the Young America’s Foundation and preserved for the next generation in order that we may look to the past to create an even better future. 


I was struck by the life that Ronald Reagan and his family lived at the ranch. It was not remarkable, fancy or reflective of the position of power he held as leader of the free world. It was average, simple and a step back from the grandeur of Washington, D.C. To him, it was heaven. 

Gov. Kristi Noem at the Reagan Ranch in October 2021. (Young Americas Foundation)

While he publicly stated, "government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem," he lived the truth of those words behind the scenes. He didn’t rely on others to do his work for him at the ranch. Instead, he cleared brush, built fences and enjoyed the work of it all. 

My hope is that the American people take note of this aspect of our former president’s life and example. We can’t rely on a debt-ridden federal government to take care of us. We are burning through borrowed cash. Many people wake up looking for a handout, rather than tackling tasks for themselves that will lead to prosperity and opportunity. 

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We can restore our "shining city on a hill" with old-fashioned work ethic and belief in our fellow man, but it will only happen with fiscal discipline that is not being displayed today by power-hungry politicians. 

Gov. Kristi Noem visits the Reagan Ranch in October 2021. (Young Americas Foundation)

As governor of California, and later president of the United States, Reagan focused on growing the private sector, creating jobs and building the economy. He gave little boys and little girls like me the chance to pursue our dreams and actually have a shot at reaching them. 

His vision for America is my vision for South Dakota. Our state will be safer, stronger and healthier because we embraced the foundations of our history, learned from our former leaders, and got up every day working to create a smaller government and give more power to the people, as our Constitution instructs. 

What we are seeing unfold in the White House today is a very different vision for America. Joe Biden’s policies and actions reflect his true goals: to diminish the role of the individual and create a government more powerful and threatening to individual liberty. 

My prayer is the average citizen will wake up to the damage being done by the extreme views and policies the national Democrat party is pursuing. 

Make no mistake, President Biden plans to cripple our country with massive debt in the form of "infrastructure stimulus" spending and entitlement programs that extinguish the drive to think for oneself and stand independent of the government. We are seeing this president expand the reach of the federal government to historic levels. If we allow it to continue, America may never be the same. 

Gov. Kristi Noem at the Reagan Ranch in October 2021 (Young Americas Foundation)

As a state legislator and congresswoman, I worked to cut taxes and regulations. We put more money into the pockets of Americans knowing they knew better how to spend their hard-earned money than some government bureaucrat. 


Democrats are threatening to undo these policies. And if they succeed, today’s young people will be shackled with debt instead of opportunity. Today’s liberal proposals alone will add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt for each individual by 2031. It is unsustainable, and the consequences of today’s actions will be felt for generations. 

Ronald Reagan was an optimist. He was a happy warrior who reminded the people of better days ahead. He never shied away from the truth, but always offered up a vision for the future. 

A former Democrat, he said he didn’t leave the party, but the party left him. It’s possible that many people in the Democrat party feel that way today. It very well may be time for us all to follow the lead of President Reagan and become happy warriors for opportunity and freedom. 

The Democrat party seems to have left America behind with their support of critical race theory, unlimited federal spending, defunding of police and government control at all costs. My prayer is the average citizen will wake up to the damage being done by the extreme views and policies the national Democrat party is pursuing. 


Stepping onto the Reagan Ranch last week, I understood in a new way the greatness of Ronald Reagan and the life he led. He was a man who held a powerful position, yet embraced the life of an average American. And he loved it. 

It was in those hours spent on the ranch, working with his hands, loving his family and riding horses that he was the happiest. Perhaps it reminded him of why he wanted to be president in the first place: to preserve the nation so it would always be "the shining city on a hill."