Today’s endorsement of Greg Gianforte was bizarre on at least a couple of different levels. The most bizarre element, perhaps, was that the IR saw fit to endorse. Over the past few election cycles, the IR has taken an incredibly inconsistent position on endorsements, ignoring them all together in some elections and fitfully endorsing in others.
Worse, the IR’s endorsement of Mr. Gianforte is based on a definition of “Montana values” that smacks of support for exclusion and discrimination. While readers were informed that they should vote for Mr. Gianforte because his record as a hunter and fisherman suggests he better understands what it means to be a Montanan, the endorsement chooses to ignore a far more fundamental element of the values Mr. Gianforte will bring to office.
- He’s worked for years to undermine public schools, which are the heart of the small towns that Gianforte pretends to champion.
- He’s given rhetorical, legal, and financial support to efforts that seek to keep LGBTQ Montanans and second-class citizens.
- He’s argued that women should not have the right to make their own health care decisions.
- He has donated to and taken money from white supremacists.
- And on and on and on…
Hardly Montana values.
And even if one puts aside (as we shouldn’t) Mr. Gianforte’s support for discrimination, the endorsement ignores Mr. Gianforte’d well-chronicled financial support for groups that want to close off public lands and his own decision to sue to block access. Protecting public lands is as “Montana” as a value gets, and the IR simply chose to ignore that Mr. Gianforte has actively worked against that.
The only other justification the author of the endorsement could muster was to argue that Mr. Gianforte’s business experience would serve Montana well in Congress. Opening with a strawperson argument that those who oppose Mr. Gianforte say he should be disqualified because they believe Gianforte’s “business accomplishments as bad things,” millionaires the piece also ignores Gianforte’s former CFO, who has repeatedly argued that he cannot be trusted and that his business experience is “eliminating jobs.”
And when it comes to representation, it’s hard not to be concerned that, if Mr. Gianforte is elected, 2/3 of Montana’s Congressional delegation will be two millionaires from the same company in the same town. No amount of wearing hunter orange or a cowboy hat will change the fact that the vast majority of Montanans will not be well-represented by a pair of millionaires, both of whom made at least part of their fortunes by outsourcing.
Finally, the IR editorial even acknowledges that, on the most important policy question facing our next member of Congress, Greg Gianforte is decidedly wrong and will vote strip health care from tens of thousands of Montanans, seriously undermining their health and perhaps irreparably harming the small town hospitals who serve them. While Mr. Gianforte has hedged on this issue with the Montana press, he was far less circumspect with D.C. lobbyists when he told them he was thankful the ACA repeal vote had passed the House. There is no way we (or the IR) should believe that a candidate who is running on the “Trump Train” would vote against the President on this issue.
As a teacher of rhetoric and logic, I would love to see the reasoning that led the author of this editorial to conclude that hunting licenses matter more than human life.
In the end, the IR’s endorsement perhaps best underscores just what a bad candidate Mr. Gianforte is. That the best arguments the IR can muster are a business record that wasn’t good enough for the IR to endorse six months ago and a collection of hunting tags demonstrate that Mr. Gianforte simply isn’t qualified to represent Montana.
Written on my phone. Apologies for any typos. Will revise.