Given the disastrous rollout of his gubernatorial campaign, I’ve found myself wondering about the hiring process Greg Gianforte must have used for his technology company and his campaign. Given his inept communications staff who still seem not to understand that public lands are our lands and Mr. Gianforte’s own series of serious missteps, it’s easy to imagine an interview process that was more focused on the applicant’s willingness to be outsourced to Texas and belief in the coexistence of humans and dinosaurs than on relevant experience for the job.
For those of us choosing our governor, though, experience should matter. The contrast between Mr. Gianforte and Governor Bullock on this point could not be more stark. While the latter has been deeply involved in the intricacies of state policymaking for years, Mr. Gianforte seems so over his head when it comes to policy questions that it’s hard to imagine how he could lead the state or interact with a Legislature.
Perhaps someone can learn how to code on the job or after taking an online class, but running a state is an entirely different matter.
And learning the role of government and how it functions is not something one should be permitted to do on the job.
The truth is that if we take Mr. Gianforte at his word, he should be disqualified from consideration for the office he is applying for. He’s professed ignorance about the intricacies of many critical issues from the CSKT Water Compact to public lands management that it’s clear he hasn’t done the homework for the job interview. If the candidate can’t tell voters how he would act in the job, we simply ought not give him the chance to fumble his way through critical issues facing Montanans.
Even worse than his professed ignorance about critical policy questions is the fact that he seems to have no idea about the limits of the governor’s power.
This past week, Mr. Gianforte pulled an old trick from the patented Republican Pandering Playbook and attacked Governor Bullock for not blocking Syrian refugees. Putting aside the troubling xenophobia embedded in this pandering, it’s absurd for Gianforte to suggest that the governor can block migration in the United States. Immigration is clearly federal policy, as anyone with a basic understanding of civics knows. David Parker, MSU professor of Political Science and political commentator pointed out this fact on Twitter this past week:
Anyone who has taken Intro to Amer Gov't should know that the fed gov't, not the states, control immigration. See the Constitution. #mtpol
— David Parker (@dparkermontana) June 17, 2016
This isn’t Gianforte’s first mistake. Consider his ill-conceived, half-baked, and ultimately retracted call for Montana high schools to replace foreign languages with computer science classes. As I first reported here, that was wrong on many fronts. Graduation requirements for the state are set by the Board of Public Education and local school boards, so the governor simply can’t mandate the change.
When the state’s media finally called out Gianforte for the illegality and impracticality of this latest policy idea, his campaign fell over itself to draw back, suggesting it was just an idea that Gianforte would “cheerlead.”
It doesn’t end there. Gianforte attacked Governor Bullock for not somehow vetoing a bill in the Washington Legislature that puts the future of Colstrip on even more precarious funding. I’m not sure what they teach at Petra Academy, but I do know that the governor of one state doesn’t have the power to veto a bill in another state’s legislature.
Hell, the man doesn’t even know how to pronounce the name of the state’s capital. It’s hard to imagine someone getting the job if they called the tech giant “Giggle” at an interview.
The breadth of Mr. Gianforte’s misunderstanding about the role of the governor is as breathtaking as it is disappointing.
Mr. Gianforte says we should run Montana like a business. It’s a premise I reject, but if Montanans take him at his word, this extended job interview would make it clear that he shouldn’t be hired. Whether it’s been his evasiveness about exactly what he would do as governor, his inaccurate description of the state of Montana’s economy, or his outright ignorance of the role of the governor, he’s made it clear he’s simply not ready to lead our state.