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.