Discouraged? Maybe. Thankful? Absolutely

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I’m not sure if it was the dispiriting series of nullifying votes cast recently, thechange in the weather, a mid-session malaise, or just missing Missoula Moth 2 this evening, but I found myself feeling a little discouraged as I walked home tonight. There’s a lot of troubling activity going on at the session, and it’s easy to feel discouraged about the direction our state seems to be taking.

That being said, being discouraged doesn’t solve anything, so I’ve chosen tonight to be thankful. I can’t thank everyone, but this is a little list of the people who make me realize that it isn’t worth being discouraged for too long:

  • The activists at organizations like the Montana Human Rights Network, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Northern Plains Resource Council and so many others who have been willing to face what must often be dispiriting episodes of testifying before legislative committees, never giving up on what they believe.
  • Senators and Representatives (too many to mention) who have eloquently stood to defend the rights of others,  quality education, and our environment. While they may not be winning many votes, they are articulating the kind of values that will bring voters to the polls the next time, and more importantly, inspiring the next generation of Montanans to get involved in politics to improve their communities and state.
  • The legislators on the other side of the political spectrum who have chosen to engage in reasoned debate during the session—and who have cast some occasionally surprising votes. You’ve convinced me we can move forward in a spirit of bipartisanship, maybe not this session, but in the future.
  • The largely unseen staffers who support these legislators and act as liaisons between the voters and the people who represent them. I can’t imagine how hard they must work, with little compensation and even less recognition.
  • The local reporters who spend endless hours covering the session and proving the #MTLeg and public with almost real-time information. It’s absolutely transformed the way citizens can follow the Legislature in action. I may not always agree with your coverage, but I appreciate  the output coming from these understaffed members of the press.
  • The inspiring, insightful, inspirational bloggers who always push the press and politicians for the truth. It’s been such a blast writing alongside some of you for five years, some for a few months. I look forward to reading what you’ve been saying as soon as I get home everyday.
  • On a personal note, my students, for always reminding me that as important as what happens at the Legislature seems, what happens in the classroom and in their lives is vastly more important. The joy and challenge you provide every day is a tremendous gift, for which I will always be thankful.

Thank you all, for everything you do.

I’m not giving up on my Montana. It’s a tolerant place, with clean rivers and skies, and the best-educated children in the world. While it may feel like there is a gray (not quite Confederate) cloud over Helena right now, Montana has always been about boundless opportunity and optimism. It’s what brought my great-grandparents here, and it’s why I’m going stay. It’s going to get better.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

21 Comments

  • And be thankful for Governor Brian Schweitzer! He's the one standing between the extreme legislators and their irresponsible bills becoming law.

  • And thank YOU, Pogie, for having the most insightful, well-written blog in the entire friggin' STATE! You're very, very good dude!

    But take if from this old dude, that pendulum is about to swing the other way in Montana and KICK these pathetic fundiwackmentalist, racist, confederidiot, moronic bastards right in the ASS! Come next election, THEY'RE DONE! We won't have to worry 'bout Jumbo Jimmy Knoxous, the Skeester, Pope Wendy, Herr Vaugner, Mike Moore, and all the OTHER Teankerbells for a long, long time! THAT is the good news! You'll see. Things are gonna get better and better.

    And I know Schweitzer. He's a pal. He will abso-friggin'LUTELY love to VETO these dumb bastards right back into irrelevancy! You just watch. You can count on it.

    You just keep doing what you do so well. Writing your ASS off! We'll get our Montana back, and Pester Chucky Cheesey Baldwin and his inbred militia will be lookin' for more friendly climes!

    True story.

  • I sure hope you're right, Viola and Pogie. After Schweitzer's 'kill the wolves' tea party rhetoric, I'm a little worried.

  • You guys know as well as I do that Gov. Schweitzer at this point in his tenure is mostly concerned about his own political image.

    He'll veto a few token bills – some of which are going to be sent to him just for that purpose, but much of what you dislike will become law.

    And NO Larry – you are wrong about the political pendulum – it's going to keep going right until after the 2012 election,

    thanks to the Messiah, Barack Obama.

    The pendulum will inevitably swing the other way though – so our legislature needs to use this term, and the next term to undo the DAMAGE of 6 years of Schweitzerism –

    • Geez, Eric, you aren't even CLOSE to reality. Did you notice that the pendulum just KICKED Snot Walker right in the arse? It's probably over for him, and the fascists have been outed. Hell, they outed themselves! It'll be a whole new ball game from here on out. The Kochs and Rupert Murdoch OWN the Republican Party. Their depravity and hatred of working people and the poor in this country knows no bounds. They're finished. This was a pivotal day in our country's history. They attempted to undo one hundred years of labor struggle overnight, but instead, they're outta power for probably another one hundred years! I'M LUVIN' IT! Oh, and then THIS little gem. The assitant AG actually SUGGESTING that the police open up with LIVE ammo on peaceful protestors? Wow! THAT would go over real well, wouldn't it? Sorry, you lose again, Eric.

      http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/indiana-o

  • Thank you Pogie, for taking the time to build this blog site. I want to let you know how grateful I am to have this as a place to find out what is really happening at Helena during this legislature session. The Great Falls Tribune has never been the voice of reason, but it's increasingly biased reports on the Medical Cannibus issue caused me to search for more even coverage from other news sources. Hence, how I found your blog. The Republicans/Tea bags are steam rolling to over-turn 3 voter initiatives, cyanide heap leach mining, CHIPS, and the Medical Marjiuana Initiative. Apparently when the people speak, they have no idea what they are doing and must be "amended" to what they deem is "right". (I am not even going to talk about the assalt on Montana's constitution!) Just the attention to overturen voter initiatives alone, is reason for me to be fighin' mad. Thank you for all links to other far minded folks who are not going to give up! Keep it coming Repub's/teabags, you will see a backlash that will take place in the very next election. As for Schweitzer, I would think it would be prudent to get as many people possible to write and let our Gov. know how we feel.

    Thank, Pogie Keep up the good work!

    Gray Cat

  • "KICKED Snot Walker right in the arse"

    What in the world are you talking about Larry?

    Wisconsin is broke, and headed 3.5 billion dollars in the hole.

    Their Governor is taking steps to fix it, and the Dem legislature scurried out of state, and hid, because they are too afraid to have their votes on the record.

    The unions busing in protesters has had no effect on the fact that when the end of the day comes the problem still needs to be addressed, and he will address it.

    And from what I'm seeing in the news, most people have little sympathy for the protesters.

  • "And from what I’m seeing in the news, most people have little sympathy for the protesters."

    Nice "from what I'm seeing in the news' as a way to avoid actual polling data like this

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-02-22-po

    referring to the American public as a whole or this

    http://www.pensitoreview.com/2011/02/22/poll-wisc

    referring to the opinion of people in Wisconsin. But I imagine if you're watching Fox news, you would get that mistaken impression. Oh, Eric.

  • Jaysus, Eric, you USED to sorta make sense. But I can see that you've gone off the deep end. Guv. Snot Wanker of Wisconsin lifted his OWN raincoat and exposed himself for the little, venal twisted pervert of a human being that he is. HEY, I didn't do it. The difference between you guys and me is that I fully BELIEVE that people of Wisconsin are smarter than you give them credit for. They WILL find a way to send this perv packin'! The WILL find a way to rid themselves of the Big Kochs. And they WILL find a way to restore AMERICA to their state! You just wait and see!

    Now, let's see. I still owe you a burger on our last bet. Wanna make it double or nuthin'?

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