Montana Politics

Ravndal’s Follies Called Out

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I don’t know Hugh van Swearingen, but I’d like to shake his hand. Last night, at the Broadwater County Commission meeting, he rose to give public comment about Tim Ravndal’s latest attempt to insert himself into local government about an issue he has little understanding of.

It seems Mr. Ravndal has written (copied?) four different resolutions regarding nullification of federal gun laws for the Broadwater County to consider. Ravndal thinks his resolutions are so important that he has repeatedly canceled his appearance, demanding that every commissioner be in attendance to receive his wisdom. He, as he told the Independent Record, “doesn’t want to waste his thunder” in front of an audience insufficient for his expertise.

That’s the thing about thunder. It makes a lot of noise, but doesn’t matter very much.

Mr. Ravndal might, despite all evidence to the contrary, believe himself to be a Constitutional expert. He, despite all available evidence, might imagine himself to be an effective political leader. He might also believe that the wrong side emerged victorious from the American Civil War. He’s certainly entitled to each of those views, and no one should try to censor or silence him.

But school, municipal, county, state, and federal governments don’t need to indulge his crusades, either. Ravndal should be entitled to what every other citizen is: a few minutes for public comment at meetings and the ability to send e-mails (which are sure to be read) to anyone in government he’d like to.

The Broadwater County Commissioners have better things to do with their time than debate meaningless gestures which will at best, make a few members of the TEA Party swell with undeserved patriotic pride, and at worst, potentially cost the county down the road if someone is foolish enough to litigate this nonsense.

van Swearingen laid out the case against Ravndal’s crusade to have his country preemptively resolve to block federal gun laws: it’s unconstitutional, it ignores the vital importance of the rest of the Montana and US constitutions in favor of a single amendment, and worst of all, it wastes time.

Mr. Ravndal’s fifteen minutes have long expired. It’s good to see a member of the community stand up to make that clear.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-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.

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