Montana Politics

Tribune Forgets Crucial Quotation Marks Around “Conservative”

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In an article headlined ‘Conservatives chosen for top leadership posts in Montana Senate”, it seems as though they forget the quotations around the word ‘Conservative’, as the top spot went to Jeff Essmann.

Why do I doubt Essmann’s conservative credentials? A couple reasons. The first is of course his opposition to medical marijuana and to capitalism more broadly. Attacking businesses for providing a product demanded by thousands of sick people, and providing documented benefits to them, is not a conservative thing to do – it is the epitome of big government. Prohibiting a business to “accept anything of value, including monetary remuneration, for any services or products provided”, as Essmann’s MMJ bill does, is not the act of someone who believes in the free market.

Moreover, championing the introduction of a sales tax to Montana is hardly the act of a Montana conservative. Granted, Essmann’s sales tax proposal was rather modest and would ostensibly give some property tax relief (only 35% of the raised tax, however).

Finally, Essmann, with other Republicans, insisted in spite of all evidence that the State didn’t have enough money, losing an opportunity to invest hundreds of millions of dollars that already belonged to Montana. Conservatives claim to stand up for government accountability and running government like a business, but no real business manager fails so spectacularly to invest revenue and then tries to give that money away when they don’t use it effectively.

All in all, putting Essmann in another position of leadership is surely not an indication that the Montana GOP is seeking to authentically represent conservative Montanans. Rather, it’s a sign that they are sill sticking to their bizarre formula from the last couple sessions – give government more power over what is truly personal, while cutting government services in the name of ‘personal freedom’.

And a special thanks to Montanafesto , the true Jeff Essmann experts.

About the author

The Polish Wolf

23 Comments

  • I find it illuminating, when dealing with American politics, to simply dispense with labels in total. There are some foolish ideologues among us, such as the Perfesser, but he has no power, nor do the others. Ideology is never more than a package worn for marketing purposes. Instead, concentrate on interests, and for that, follow the money. As a Democrat, your best efforts in this regard might be to focus your efforts on other Democrats. It’s a field in need of plowing.

  • Mark – besides your Beck-esque rambling about following the money, what are you trying o contribute to this conversation? Montana Democrats have accomplished quite a bit in the last eight years, and its not just a label. As my two great interests are education and international policy, I tend to judge individual candidates based on how they affect those two elements. So, statewide my focus is on who is going to create the best possible environment for my students to succeed. Essmann is doing no such thing by crippling a burgeoning business in Montana and sending more money into the hands of drug dealers, forcing more Montanans to rely on prescription painkillers that are both addictive and potentially fatal, and pretending Montana doesn’t have the money to fully meet the needs of its citizens. I don’t need to follow the money to come to these determinations.

    • “Beck-esque”? My compliments. I would not have anticipated that. I don’t know what the hell it means, of course. But nonetheless, my compliments.

      I find your ideas in the area of international policy to be a nice book cover, nothing more. I find American education, even at its best, inadequate. You don’t seem able to muster enthusiasm in your causes, as your ideas are uninspired, beginning and ending with you enduring faith in the Democratic Party.

      • Beck, as in Glenn – constantly ‘following the money’ to no where, or to al Qaeda, depending on his mood.

        I did follow the money with Jon vs Denny, remember? Jon got a lot of banking money, probably for his attempt to protect them from the anti-banking legislation bought and paid for by the retail industry. He also received a lot of money from the LCV. I couldn’t tell you where all of their money comes from, but certainly a great deal came from individual members and donors. Denny’s money came by and large from fossil fuel extraction companies and organizations, and yet you still insist that there can be no difference between the two. Granted, those whose jobs and profits depend on it saw enough of a difference to invest thousands upon thousands of dollars in Denny, but somehow that doesn’t mean anything to you.

        And there is your problem, Mark – you think that having a ‘freed mind’ perspective makes up for lacking expertise, and you’re doing par excellence here. In one sentence,

        “I find American education, even at its best, inadequate.”

        you attempt to dismiss entirely all discussion of how best to educate our students. Of course, you’re not in a classroom, and you don’t see how funding levels impact actual student performance. My entire position depends on legislative funding, it not being a standard ‘teaching’ job, and I have to justify my work every quarter by showing objective results. And its not just me – I’m sure there are hundreds of positions, many of them non-traditional, statewide that are allowing students to succeed despite the flaws in the system. It’s not a matter of ‘adequate’ education; its a matter of the best education we can provide. We can get that from Democrats, we can’t get it from Republicans, and the most objective statistics we have available support that.

        For one example – I doubt you’ve taken even a cursory look at the numbers in the links provided, but you might do well to do so. If you did, you’d notice that, for example, since the election of Brian Schweitzer we’ve seen the gap in reading proficiency between white and Indian students narrow by ten percentage points – critically, we went from less than half of our American Indian students being proficient in reading, to two thirds being proficient. That’s huge progress, and it’s progress we didn’t see with Martz and her unnecessary cutting in education budgets.

        So keep up the ‘holier than thou’ act, Mark. It may make you feel better about yourself, to be above all this. But holier than thou doesn’t teach kids to read, it doesn’t get them diplomas, it doesn’t help them pass tests to get into college. Really, it doesn’t do any body any good.

        • Oh screw “holier than thou.” And do follow the LCV money, as that $1 million shot that Jon got at the end speaks of some desperation. People, wealthy people, who wanted him in, saw he was going down and rode in to rescue him. They used LCV as a conduit. Your casual dismissal…

          “I couldn’t tell you where all of their money comes from, but certainly a great deal came from individual members and donors.”

          … speaks of willful ignorance. You don’t want to know. Do you. And of course, you’ve never fought in the trenches trying to preserve our wild lands, so you take all of Tester’s assurances at face value. You’d be wise not to comment on things you know nothing about. If it makes you feel better about yourself, to be above all of that, fine. But it doesn’t preserve land, and once it is gone, it is gone. But take it from me – LCV is a front group, nothing more. They collect small money from well-intended individuals, but they also channel big money from those not so well-intended. I’ve been in the trenches. I know. I see how they offered a green front for Baucus all these years. And now Tester.

          My comment on education: Here’s another angle, a parallel debate back before Budge banned me form his web site: He constantly criticized me in his holier-than-thou style for not having read all of the sources he had read, von Mises and the others of the Austrian school. My answer was simple – his end product. Every recommendations stunk to high heaven. Every time his ideas were put in practice, they led to disaster, or simply failed. His whole philosophy rested on the hypothesis that could not be disproven. What more did I need to know? Must I read Hubbard before I judge that Scientology is bankrupt?

          The same with the American education system – your product are students who cannot think critically. How far do I have to go to find the kid who sees through cheap propaganda, easily unpacked lies, two-party charades? They are not coming out of your classrooms. But do get your funding, do improve reading scores, as kids who cannot read cannot be properly indoctrinated.

          Man, talk about missing the forest for the trees!

          • Talk about self defeating arguments.

            You dismissed Budge’s point of view based on, “his end product”. Seeing as how the “end product” of Tokarskian Logic is that improved reading scores for Montana’s children is not a good thing, would it follow that we should dismiss all your arguments on this issue? Actually, your response to children reading better was nothing more than a weak argumentum ad consequentiam – a fallacious red herring.

            You then appeal to your time “in the trenches” as evidence towards a higher probability for your argument’s truth. All the while dismissing the education policy views of a teacher, an individual himself “in the trenches”. Interesting.

            You need reevaluate the meaning of critical thinking.

            • Too funny. Ellul, one of many I have read on the art of indoctrination, absolutely emphasized the essential role of education in the process. He went further in saying that the intellectual class was by far the most susceptible to propaganda. I don’t have to go far to see this – our chattering classes, our academics, our “bought priesthood,” are the most deeply ‘bought in’ to our corruption, and most submissive to power. Right now, right this very moment, you’ll find them defending the state of Israel as it goes about its terror. It’s what they do.

              And of course I did not say that reading was a bad thing. Quite the opposite. The ability to read and think often leads people out of the desert. It has certainly helped me. Just as often, it leads them in circles.

              By the way, where does it say “judge a tree by its fruit?” That’s all I did with Budge. I realized that whatever he was selling did not have positive value, and saw no value in exploring it deeper. Wasn’t there something said above about going in circles?

          • NamelessRange eloquently pointed out the inherent idiocy of your whole line of argument, so I’ll get into the specifics.

            To my knowledge, the LCV isn’t required to disclose their funding sources, but with millions of members dishing out dues and donating extra during campaign season, I think you lack any evidence of their majority of their funding coming from a nefarious source. However, I agree that they were desperate. Why would they be desperate not to get Denny elected if they have a secret anti-environmental agenda? It’s much easier to follow the money on Denny – four out of five of his top donors coming from the fossil fuel industry, lets apply Ockham’s razor: Fossil fuel companies take he lead in funding Denny’s campaign, and the LCV throws a million dollars in to keep Denny from being elected. Now, which is simpler and more likely – despite the two candidates being the same, groups with opposite stated goals (one side with potentially billions of dollars at stake) spend millions of dollars on opposite sides of an election to…fool us, or something, or that two candidates with similar agendas with nonetheless important differences get money from two groups with opposing interests?

            And now education – again, you have no clue what you’re talking about. How much time do you spend with teenage kids? Because I spend the majority of my waking hours with them, and I think I might know a bit more about the situation that you do.

            For one thing, literacy is not a necessary condition for indoctrination to work. Just watch a music video – the messages are aimed directly at the most basic level of comprehension. You don’t even need to words to get the message: Expensive cars + gold chain + $150 Nikes + aggressive attitude = sexy, mostly naked women. Country videos are even more straightforward – oversize truck + cowboy hat + $200 cowboy boots + American flag = sexy women in shorts that would embarrass Daisy Duke.

            For another, there are plenty of kids who are experts at critical (to say, skeptical) thinking. Try teaching them something, and immediately they doubt why they need to learn it, start to question the facts you’re teaching them, etc. A great many kids have no trouble with critical thinking, the way you exhibit it. But lacking the literacy to get your news from anywhere but the TV or rumors, and lacking the math skills to work out how much they are actually paying when they buy things on their credit cards, kids who don’t get the knowledge the school is trying to teach them are actually far easier to get caught in the consumer cycle and far less likely to pose any informed or effective opposition to Gov. policies. As long as most poor kids are stuck with a substandard education, they are unlikely to realize the wastefulness of the life they aspire to, and even less likely to gain the ability to express their perspective in a way that is taken seriously by the middle class majority.

            • Again, too funny. That noise I just heard was Ockham spinning in his grave. His dictum – don’t add unnecessary arguments, is not quite the same as what you have done, which is to ignore evidence. And I am leaning right now towards deep disgust with you, as you have twisted logic to condemn Rehberg’s corruption while using the exact same logic to defend Tester. That is perverse. Corruption is corruption.

              Your assumption that LCV money came from LCV, and further, without examination assumes hat they are what they claim to be, is not Mr. Ockham’s dictum. It is that of three monkeys.

              Education – me, the father of five whose son is daily working with young people, though not in the trenches as you are – I know nothing? He says what you say – there are some bright ones. The school my kids went to did not teach advertising resistance, or the power of imagery to bypass the censor. It did not each critical thinking. You guys all say, to a fault, that you are doing all of this, and yet the kids, even the bright ones, turn round and joint the two parties and fight the wars, have no advertising resistance nor a clue about compound interest.. I am out here on the fringes looking for those bright kids you’re sending out daily. Where the hell
              Are they?

              Reading is essential in critical thinking. It is also essential in indoctrination. Is that too subtle a point?

    • Mark – you are ranting more and arguing less. You harp on and on about me finding where LCVs money comes from. I do not know, I cannot know, that information is not available. But we can follow the money to an extent. The opposed a candidate whose primary financial backers were extractive industries. So we can safely assume that a candidate they back is not the one preferred by the extractive industries, and from there we can surmise that in some way the LCV is less enthusiastic about resource extraction than the people pumping the oil or mining the coal. The only rational alternative is that those people whose livelihoods depend on government regulation of the environment, and who have invested millions to influence that regulation, do not understand government regulation of the environment. This seems unlikely.

      As to the connection between education and indoctrination, think a little tiny bit about it and your irrationality will become obvious. While a society indoctrinated probably needs SOME literate people, it is more effective to have the majority of people functionally semi-literate. The greatest atrocities committed against Natie Americans were committed by a society that was only semi-literate, and those who were the least well education supported Andrew Jackson, probably the president responsible for the most atrocious treatment of the Indians, and the President who set the precedent for the extra-legal treatment of Indian nations.

      The case is even more powerful today. It is easy and cheap to write a scathing critique of the two party system, of the military industrial complex, of imperialism, etc., but the message i limited to those who are well and truly literate. But it takes a great deal more money and influence to get that same message into video and images designed to appeal to the semi-literate, and even then the message transmitted is limited in its complexity. But hey, you’re not interested in how thing work, just the fruits, right? So then you’ll not be surprised to hear that Americans with the most education were the ones most likely to oppose the war in Iraq, and the best educated States were also the ones who opposed the war, while those with weak education systems also by and large gave the most support to the war.

      So…nothing you’re saying has any relevance. Should you decide to post again, please give a) some indication of why you think there is no difference between a man funded by the coal and gas industries and a man funded by a nominally environmental group (remember, only following the money has any relevance under Mark rules) or b) explain to me why you think it’s not important that our students be literate. I don’t care what ELSE you think our education system needs to do, unless somehow being able to read is not important for what you believe to be the proper role of education. Kids who can read can expose themselves to any number of viewpoints. Kids who can’t stand very little chance of getting anything beyond mainstream consumerist viewpoint.

      • I am frankly of the opinion that our elections are nothing more than a pressure release valve. The universal franchise had the opposite of its intended effect – it made elections pointless. It should come as no surprise then that public opinion ceased being relevant at the very point when it would have had its highest impact, after the franchise was extended to all. The oligarchy had to take policy formation behind closed doors. It could not be left in the hands of an uneducated public.

        How education factors in to our system? It doesn’t much. We are limited to two parties because we are an oligarchy. The second party in such a system plays a vital role in defining the limits to which public opinon is allowed to influence government. Democrats, in effect, usurp meaningful resistance to the oligarchy, placing themselves in the positions that should be held by true opponents of the Republicans. In effect, as I like to say, Democrats prevent the rise of a second party. Others put it more succinctly: Democrats act as a ratchet to prevent backsliding after real gains are scored by Repiblicans.

        In that situation, with oligarchical control of media and education as well, we are limited in our ability to think. Everything must be defined as a difference between the parties, and since they do not differ on much, politics becomes trivia. That’s where advertising comes in – it is the opposite of information, and seeks to motivate without informing, to manipulate based on slogans and symbols while avoiding serous issues.

        Now please do tell me how education is helping us. I could have sworn you just said that our system is based on ads aimed at the semi-literate. You did say that better-educated people opposed, say, Iraq, but you forgot to also say that it did not matter. You seem to miss the point – 2006 we voted you in based on opposition to Iraq, and you turned right around and stepped up the war.

        I know the problem here, I’ll be frank: You think that education is the antidote to propaganda. Not so. It is the delivery vehicle.

        Here’s soemthing funny: Tester and Rehberg, no difference, but it gave you huge boost of satisfaction for your guy to win. Pressure relief valve. Other than that, they are no different.

        • Mark – you answered nothing. You did not answer either question I posed.

          First, if Tester and Rehberg are the same, why did oil and gas companies put hundreds of thousands of dollars into Rehberg’s campaign? To relieve pressure? It’s nonsense, and contributes to the overall impression that you’re a raving lunatic.

          Second, on education – I never claimed education to be the antidote to propaganda. I believe that increasing educational achievement, especially for groups that are generally lower socio-economically is valuable for the society as a whole. I do believe, from observation, that students who are more literate and more academically curious (not to say necessarily more successful) are far more resistant to consumerism and propaganda.

          Not that it matters, of course, since by your logic public opinion is unimportant. The most meaningful resistance is probably limiting your consumerism, and curbing the desire to buy new things constantly. But frankly, I think you’re asking quite a bit to ask that education inoculate our children against the propaganda of the government funding said education is quite a bit to ask. Teach kids to read and write, to understand math, give them basic history and geography from multiple perspectives, and teach them the foundations of science. Its up to their parents and themselves to give give them their ideological grounding.

        • I exactly answered your question as to Tester and Rehberg. I said they were not different. You said they are and offered as evidence Rehberg’s support by one faction within the oligarchy, apparently concluding thereby that Tester rests outside it. Nonsense. Each man serves the same masters. Tester usurped the position that a man or woman of character would hold in opposition to power, was free to speak publicly as if he held an outside point of view. That is how Democrats function in a oligarchy.

          That’s where you come in. Your personal validation as a man who honestly seeks truth and lives by high ideals is validated by Tester’s victory. Good for you. To maintain that posture, however, you have to ignore Tester’s support by the same forces as supplied Rehberg, and this requires a heavy dose of denial. They supplied it to you by routing his bribes through a pseudo-green group. They know you quite well, these political operatives. They know what it takes to keep you passive – some tinsel on the tree.

          It is nice to see that you have backed off any use in education in preparing a person for the propaganda faced in everyday life. That’s the job of the home, you now say. Quite a different tune you are singing. Teach them to read and sipher and your work is done. You’re halfway there now. The final step is to freely admit that far from inculcating them from propaganda, which you now eschew, you are actually a delivery vehicle.

          I await your final realizations on this matter. Self-awareness is, as I can easily attest, painful. We are, all of us in this country, raised in a delusional state, and when the scales fall from the eyes, the light can be intense. Good work so far. Keep at it.

          • ” I said they were not different. You said they are and offered as evidence Rehberg’s support by one faction within the oligarchy, apparently concluding thereby that Tester rests outside it.”

            Two matters – one, you specifically said “follow the money”. I did, and lo, the money came from two markedly different sources.

            Second, you are again framing the debate strangely. I am trying to tell you there is a real difference in governance between Jon Tester and Denny Rehberg, (though that is unrelated to the last two posts, both of which focused on State level government. Again, as you lack any specific knowledge you fall back on hackneyed, sweeping generalizations). You are trying to tell me that rich and powerful people support both of them. I’m not disagreeing with that point – merely saying that the powerful people supporting Rehberg are a great deal more troubling than those supporting Tester. It is as though I continue to point out the difference between mice and giraffes, while you stridently insist that in fact they are both mammals.

            “It is nice to see that you have backed off any use in education in preparing a person for the propaganda faced in everyday life.”

            Not at all, merely admitted that education is not a panacea for solving propaganda and consumerism (though again, it was a small admission, as I had never claimed that before). Without education, very few people can hope to grasp the ideas or access the facts needed to approach decisions in daily life in the best way possible. That’s not to say that they will; there have always been and will always be smart, educated people nonetheless supporting terrible policies.

            However, it is also not the task of schools to spend their time trying to ‘open students eyes’ in the way you describe, because as I see it all your enlightenment has not done anything to actually better the country you live in. Indeed, if schools churned out students as bitter and closed-minded as you, we would indeed have a bad situation on our hands. I would like for every kid coming out of high school to have the knowledge to oppose something as stupid as invading Iraq (or Iran), but I don’t think that any education is going to be able to do, largely because many people in this country are immediately suspicious of any ideas gathered from education or critical thinking.

            The one area I most wish education were more active, and where I have seen some progress, is in resisting consumerism. After all, the rich and powerful don’t need the support of the majority; they need the apathy of the masses and the vocal support of a very few. Our consumer culture strives constantly to minimize the importance of real concerns like tax policy, foreign policy, the environment, etc., and to maximize the imagined importance of the new iPhone or F-150. Again, without education, it’s almost impossible to resist this culture. With it, its still difficult, and I think an area where progress is needed. However, to suggest that education is in fact necessary for indoctrination, as you did, is patently absurd,

          • You are..”merely saying that the powerful people supporting Rehberg are a great deal more troubling than those supporting Tester…”

            Interesting that you say that not even knowing where Tester got that last minute ass-saving million dollars. We’ll know, soon enough.

            Supporting or not supporting a war is one thing, as people are reflexively taken in by agitprop as led us into Af-Pak and Iraq, and then Libya, Syria and Lebanon. Agitprop is very difficult to deal with as we never know what is true until it is too late. The government owns reality, I’m afraid. Our only defense are the three rules: They lie, they lie, they lie.

            Far more important is what Ellul called pre-propaganda, or plowing the field for later sowing. This includes fake history, inculcation into the two-party mindset, consumerism, doody/honor/country, that killing is appropriate human behavior outside our tribe … and here schools play an essential role. In my own primary and secondary years I was taught to fear communism and Russia and China. We went through air raid and duck and cover, all part of the indoctrination. We learned that kids who went off to Vietnam were defending us. My teachers, themselves brought up in this system, were delivering for the state.

            The great liberals of the early 20th century such as Lippmann and Bernays who thought it important to keep us invested in voting for preselected candidates and learning to have our minds right on the issues of the day, as the public mind has no use in governing a country. This is where “closed-minded and bitter people” like me differ from liberals – we think it worthwhile to invest in people, as each one is a unique work. Education matters. We should try it.

            • “Interesting that you say that not even knowing where Tester got that last minute ass-saving million dollars”

              I can assume, if we figure money is being invested rationally, that the million dollars saving Jon Tester came from people who were opposed to the agenda of those funding Rehberg, that agenda being exploiting our natural resources as quickly as possible.

              “Far more important is what Ellul called pre-propaganda, or plowing the field for later sowing. This includes fake history, inculcation into the two-party mindset, consumerism, doody/honor/country, that killing is appropriate human behavior outside our tribe … and here schools play an essential role.”

              Quite the contrary. Fake history I’ll grant, but education has little to do with inculcating a two party mindset, and the rest of it is all pushed by the media and, to an extent at least, limited by education. Killing is of course a natural human behavior, as is consuming. But where in an educational setting you may try to get a balance of views about warfare and consumption, outside of the education system the media is very one sided on these issues – our books, music, and movies are saturated with killing and consuming, as has pretty much been the case for all of human history.

              “we think it worthwhile to invest in people, as each one is a unique work. Education matters. We should try it.”

              Funny, investing in individual people is what I do everyday. But hey, you’re the expert. That must not actually be happening. You assume a lot about education, Mark – you have the system diminished to a caricature, and you don’t understand half as much as you think you do.

              • “I can assume, if we figure money is being invested rationally, that the million dollars saving Jon Tester came from people who were opposed to the agenda of those funding Rehberg, that agenda being exploiting our natural resources as quickly as possible.”

                Oh, I agree, the money is invested rationally. They know in advance what they are buying. I’m feeling pretty much slam-dunk in my assumption that a million dollars in politics does not buy an honest man. Your idea that one form of corruption must be superior to others is like dividing by zero, not definable.

                And of course I am not an “expert” in your field, and I feel your retreat in progress. Education does not exist outside the power structure that also controls media, politics (two parties only), business commerce, government and the military. Saying so would be ludicrous.

                From the inside looking out, you feel that boundaries on your behavior do not exist, just as journalists feel free to report on anything once they internalize their own boundaries. You have a choice – to opt out or buy in. That is the only choice you were ever given, but choice does provide an illusion of freedom.

                Tester, by definition, cannot take a million dollars and represent anything but that million dollars. It is impossible. He is corrupt. You cannot teach within our educational system unless you have bought in. You would either explode form internal contradictions, or quit.

              • I come here thinking “God I hope he hasn’t responded” because I know I cannot let you have the last word. But it is your blog. So please have the last word. I will read it, and will summon all my strength and use all my professional skill to let it rest.

              • Mark –

                Your definition of corruptions is so broad as to be meaningless – essentially, people acting in their own best interests, by your reckoning, is corrupt. That may be fair – but it also means that every accomplishment of human beings is marred by ‘corruption’.

                For a very recent example, look at Lula da Silva. We’re learning that under his watch, corruption was rampant (even though, hopefully, it did not include him personally). But that doesn’t change the fact that he worked tirelessly to pull nearly forty million people out of poverty. That’s forty million living breathing people who can live comfortably, not worried where their next meal is coming from. So, if some of that was accomplished in spite of, or even as a result of, corrupt practices, does that de-legitimize what was accomplished? It shouldn’t. Those forty million people aren’t moving back to favelas, going back to starving, just because the government that moved them into the middle class benefited from corrupt practices.

                Similarly, with your idea of being in the ‘power structure’. Yes, we all have rules that govern our behavior. It’s called living in society. And we have specific rules that govern our behavior. You have the GAAP, I have a handbook full of rules. As a government employee, I actually probably have a lot more protected rights than someone working in the private sector. Regardless, we both have constraints, there’s no denying it.

                That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to have a real impact in those positions. I see it every day, and I honestly hope that you also see positive results of your work.

                I think what you aren’t seeing is that just because possibilities for action are limited doesn’t mean that what action that is taken within that acceptable spectrum makes no difference. That’s what I’m trying to tell you – I see real differences every day in education, both on a personal level and a statistical one. The overall system isn’t changed, but that doesn’t mean that people’s lives aren’t being impacted in a positive way. And the programs making that difference are new – Brian Schweitzer’s administration signed the laws that made them possible, Denise Juneau saw to it that they were implemented properly, and Barack Obama and Senate Democrats passed the stimulus funding that got them off the ground. I’m not trying to say that helping these kids through school is going to set them up to bring down the system, indeed, as you know I don’t think that’s what’s necessary, exactly.

                I’ve had some very good conversations with a few students about how the world works, the role of consumerism and corruption in our political and economic systems, but far more important is that the students who are getting an education are set up to get a better life than what they could expect otherwise. it is a difference that is both visible to me personally and quantifiable, and it is made possible because one party won some elections. That’s why I believe elections are important and will continue to work to make them turn out in our favor.

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