Former governor Mike Rounds stopped by our studios yesterday to discuss his campaign for US Senate. Rounds is running for the Republican nomination for the seat currently held by Senator Tim Johnson.
We touched on a variety of current issues, such as the Farm Bill, livestock losses in western South Dakota, the economy and Obamacare.
I also typically ask candidates what they're hearing from South Dakotans as they travel across the state.
Rounds says many are worried about their incomes and whether they'll be able to keep pace with rising costs.
However, he quickly transitioned into a subject on which he's clearly gotten an earful.
"(In) the polls that we've worked on, the surveys we've done...there's a real distrust in government. And its pervasive," Rounds says.
He says the distrust starts at the federal level, but has become so strong that people have become suspicious of every level of government. Massive data collection by the NSA and the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS are generating grave concerns among all age groups.
"People are starting to realize that we're going into a George Orwellian type of a program, where Big Brother really is out there and they're following everything that we're doing," Rounds says.
"It used to be that people would say, 'I don't think that's really gonna happen. It's not there.' But now they're realizing that it really is there and it is a serious issue."
I asked Rounds if he would shut down the NSA and put an end to the spying program. I'm not usually surprised by the answers of my guests. However, Rounds surprised me with his comments, as well as the forceful passion of his response.
"I think it's bigger than that. I think it's a matter that Congress has let the bureaucrats start running the country. And it's because Congress has absolutely failed to do their own job. What they've done is they've allowed the bureaucrats to start making the laws."
Streaming Audio: Mike Rounds interview
Rounds drew an analogy to South Dakota government. He explained how state lawmakers pass legislation, direct the executive branch to make the appropriate rules and regulations to enact the law, and then review the regulations before they go into effect.
"Congress doesn't do that. Why? Because, number one, the laws they're passing right now are so broad...and then you get 15,000 pages of bureaucracy on top of it in order to tell everyone what they think the law really meant. That is stupid. And it's got to stop."
Frankly, it was enjoyable to see Rounds so engaged and clearly passionate on the subject of dysfunction in the federal government.
It's no surprise to conservatives that many Americans have grown distrustful of government.
Rounds is clearly critical of the current state of Congress. Fixing the corrupt culture and broken system in Washington, however, is another matter.
Greg Belfrage is heard mornings 6am-9am on KELO Newstalk 1320 AM / 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.