During yesterday’s debate on whether South Dakotans should be allowed to order wine by mail, Sen. Tim Begalka had an interesting riff on why he was voting against the measure. Begalka, a Republican from Clear Lake, came across as utterly flabbergasted by recent trips to a couple of liquor stores as he researched the issue.
“I’ve visited two liquor stores in the last couple of weeks, specifically to see – one in Pierre and one in Huron on my way home. And I was amazed – because I don’t visit liquor stores that often – the hundreds of different brands of wines that are available on the shelf. It was the whole isle, both sides, top to bottom. Hundreds of different varieties of wine.
“I don’t know why in the world anybody would want to order one online and get something else, anyway. I mean, have you tried all those already? I don’t think we need to promote any more wine consumption in South Dakota. I think we have plenty of opportunities already, so I really don’t think this is necessary.”
A couple of observations here. First, Begalka won a controversial Republican primary in 2012 as the Tea Party candidate. The Tea Party is a different animal, depending on where you go. I’ve long maintained that self-identified Tea Party types from South Dakota are interested in limiting government in some areas, and expanding it in other areas. In some places, the Tea Party is more interested in economic issues. Here, many Tea Party advocates focus on social issues.
Begalka is more interested in keeping a government sponsored monopoly in place than he is in expanding the freedom of individuals to buy a bottle of wine.
Now, imagine if the subject was firearms. During recent gun control debates, we’ve heard the same argument Begalka makes to limit wine purchases that gun control supporters make: Why would you need to buy an AR-15 when you can buy a shotgun or another type of rifle?
I wonder how Begalka would feel if there was a proposal to further limit the ability of South Dakotans to purchase firearms on the Internet? After all, you can go down to the local gun shop and choose from hundreds of different firearms. Why would you need to order one?
It’s a reminder that those who preach for limited government aren’t always interested in limited government.