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Loose ends: Zinke/Ryan, I-181, voting

The tale of two Ryans

The breaking news is U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan is coming to Billings on behalf of congressional candidate Ryan Zinke.

Good news for Zinke but also for challenger Denise Juneau. There are 435 House races this year so why Speaker Ryan would campaign for Ryan Zinke would indicate a competitive House race.

The two Ryans make for strange bedfellows as Zinke has steadfastly supported Donald Trump and Ryan has tried to distance himself from the Trump candidacy by about a million miles. But Ryan’s visit might dampen Zinke’s appearance as a rabid Trumpeter. At least that’s one perspective.

This could also portend Republican’s attempt to rebuild the party. Putting Zinke and Ryan on the same stage may signal an endeavor at conflict resolution.

Good luck with that.

Yes or No on I-181?

With a number of people who are close to me suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, at first blush I was leaning ‘Yes’ on I-181. I was more conflicted about this item on the ballot than perhaps any other.

And although I don’t put a lot of stock in Billings Gazette endorsements, today’s column recommending a ‘No’ vote was factual and thoughtful.

One of the main opponents of I-181, state Sen. Dick Barrett, is a well-respected Democrat and retired UM economics professor. Another key opponent is Republican state Sen. Rob Story, a former senate president. So, this is a common sense, not partisan, issue. It just doesn’t seem to pencil out.

I’m voting ‘No’ on I-181.

But you gotta vote

It has come to my attention that there are folks who are not voting, at all, in the 2016 election. I can understand the frustration in some of the choices being offered and as a way of protest, folks aren’t casting a ballot.

This would be a mistake. I’ll cite just one down-ticket example that’s in my district. My friend, Gail Gutsche, is running against incumbent Bob Lake for a seat on the PSC. So you have a choice between someone who is going to push for more renewables and energy conservation (Gail) and one who seems to be pretty cozy with the status quo, meaning fossil fuels and utility companies (Bob).

Then there are legislative and judicial races, initiatives, and U.S. House and gubernatorial candidates. Imagine the damage that could be done if the Republicans hold majorities in both houses of the legislature and there’s no veto pen.

To the anarchists out there who would like to see the whole, corrupt system crumble and aren’t voting, well, there’s some appeal in that. But it’s always a crapshoot in what might follow: could be utopia or could be totalitarianism. I’m not ready to take that gamble.



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  • Pete, Paul Ryan’s appearance in Montana is a normal rally the GOP and Republican leaning Independent troops in the last weeks of the election to help Zinke as well as a lot of down ballot races. There have been appearances by a number of national GOP leaders in the past month+ including Rick Perry & Donald Rumsfeld for Gianforte and Senator John Thune touring the state with Steve Daines and some down ballot candidates.

    Both parties have invited nationally recognized names in the final weeks of an election cycle to build momentum and rally the troops. I have seen few to no VIP invitations for Bullock or Juneau in the past month. Perhaps I am on the wrong mailing list or Steve and Denise either couldn’t get any nationally recognized Democratic VIPs to stump for them in Montana or decided not to go that route.

    Thanks for pointing out the Billings Gazette editorial on I-181. I had not seen it and am still trying to figure out how to vote on that issue. Barrett and Story offer some good points.

    • First, Gianforte gets Donald Rumsfeld, one of the architects of the disastrous Iraq War? Man, I’d pass on that one. And “Dancing with the Stars” Rick Perry? Gianforte has some winners stumping for him.

      Anyway, my point is that unless the Zinke/Juneau race is close, I’m thinking there’s more to Rep. Ryan’s appearance than just boosting numbers (although I see James Conner just posted a relevant comment below).

      As to Bullock and Juneau not having party VIPs stumping for them, I believe it’s the latter: they decided to not go that route so as to appeal more to independents.

  • Pete, only 57.6 million out of 202 million eligible voters (28.5%) voted in the primary. That means, according to your logic, that there are 144 million “anarchists” out there?

    I didn’t realize that 1) anarchists didn’t vote and 2) if you don’t vote you’ll be labeled an anarchist. In any case, if there are 144 million “anarchists” out there, maybe democracy isn’t working out too well in the U.S.

    Of course, maybe there are a only handful of anarchists, and just a whole lot of of disillusioned, politically apathetic people out there.

    A whole lot of men in the 60’s and 70’s (myself included) burned their draft cards. Women burned their bras. People make political statements in a lot of different ways. Lara Gardner makes an excellent argument against voting. Maybe it would be better to listen to her argument and engage in the debate about why the majority of Americans have given up on the political process.

    As to Gail Gutsche (whose campaigns I have worked on), I agree whole-heartely that she would be a far better PSC Commissioner than Lake. Then again, maybe she would have won 4 years ago if she didn’t have to avoid Obama’s coattails.

    So, am I an anarchist for wanting to talk about the value of not voting in a system where the outcomes are rigged (U.S. presidential politics), of withholding my vote for Clinton out of not wanting to feel personally and ethically responsible for her horrendous foreign policies and financial corruption? It is possible to be an anarchist and work for just campaigns and politicians. Just don’t turn the word into another McCarthyism.

      • My Dad taught me that it’s nobody else’s goddamn business to know if you vote or who you voted for. Pretty sage advice from someone who was peripherally ingrained in Montana politics for 30 years, working for 5 governors.

        • I didn’t ask you who you voted for, just if you voted. Sorry it was such a tough question. You tell me you burned your draft card but won’t tell me if you voted. What a cop out. Shit, JC, I can go down to the county elections office and see if you voted or not, if I really cared.

          All this bluster about “not voting in a system where the outcomes are rigged” (where have I heard the word “rigged” before?) because you think I called you an anarchist or asked you to vote for Clinton. I didn’t — I just hoped people would pay attention to the down-ticket races.

          My closing line was: “To the anarchists out there who would like to see the whole, corrupt system crumble and aren’t voting, well, there’s some appeal in that.” Hardly McCarthyism, but read into my post whatever you want.

          By the way, I’m in the process of filling out my ballot and voting for those “liberal, do-gooder, partisan hack” down-ticket candidates, and not afraid to admit to it.

          • If you didn’t really care if I voted or not, why did you ask? Like I said, I grew up in a family immersed in state politics for 30 years, and was taught that is was nobody’s business but my own how and if I vote. I’ll defer to the wisdom of my old man on this one. Sure, go look it up, I really don’t care, either. I’m just not going to be pigeon-holed based on whether or not I vote. That’s just another form of McCarthyism. Barely an eighth of eligible Americans voted in the primary. Do they all deserve your derision?

            • Damn you’re good at taking things out of context. By asking people to vote I’m being derisive? And I didn’t pigeonhole you, I just suggested that some of those choosing not to vote would prefer anarchy over the current system. I have no idea why, in your infinite wisdom, you chose not to vote or if you voted at all. Whatever. It was a simple question. And McCarthyism? Love the hyperbole.

              By the way, 28.5% is more than an eighth; somewhere between a quarter and a third. A low number, no doubt, but one of the higher percentages in decades. I’m sure you have a solution for bringing those numbers up.

  • Ryan is helping Zinke, who probably doesn’t need the help, so that when Ryan runs for re-election as speaker, assuming the GOP holds the house, Zinke will help Ryan.

    I’m voting against I-181. It’s a brazen end run around the legislature.

    And, I’m voting. Those who do not vote lose their moral right to complain about the results.

    • Voting does not grant an individual any more or less right to petition for a redress of grievances. The Constitution purportedly serves to protect the rights of all, voters or not. And why would someone (a voter) think they have the right to tell others (non-voters) what their moral rights are?

      And do the 6 million felons who live in states denying them voters rights lose their moral right to complain because of their status? Civil courts sure wouldn’t agree with that. How about kids?

      Declaring what the moral authority of another is, depending on their personal choice, is a slippery slope.

  • I thought about not voting this year do to the terrible candidates we ended up with. I’m of the 60’s but didn’t burn my draft card and ended up in Vietnam. So I will vote in respect to those near 58,000 soldiers who lost their life in a senseless war so maybe they can have some voice against endless war. I don’t think Zinke needs any help from Ryan. I look at it this way. The GOP wants to run the victory margin up against Juneau to make Zinke look like a tough candidate when he runs against Tester in 2018. I did find it interesting that a Democratic Super Pac is spending $500,000 in next 2 weeks against Zinke. A lot of money but to late to make a difference in this race. Besides early ballots been out 10 days with many returned

  • My neighbor explained it for me better than anyone I know. He said that for all the folks who consider just voting for Drumpf and bringing the entire system crashing down, he said to remember the Tarzan theory of politics. And that would be that when you’re swinging from vine to vine, ya DON’T let go of one until you have another!

    Voting from Drumpf, or not voting at all, is just letting go. And you wanna know something? My neighbor’s right!

    Kinda makes sense, don’t it? The status quo for eight more years looks pretty dammm good compared to fascism!

  • refusing to vote is not synonymous with wanting the corrupt system to crumble. I have a family, why would I want the system to crumble? I simply refuse to lend my consent to this utterly corrupt system anymore.

    • But…..but…….but, the inbreds for Jeezus continue to vote in record numbers! And that can be REAL hard on our public lands. If for no other reason, it’s important to keep the inbreds off the land board, for they could do a whole lotta of mischief in a short period of time. And besides, I’m one who could never allow the inbreds to win be default. Just ain’t my style.

      I, too, used to be of the belief that things will never change until folks have suffered enough. Well, I think that they have suffered enough, but now, the change they want is NOT the change our country needs. History is lost on most folks. Returning to the good old days of fascism is NOT the change we need. If we can just hold on until the young people in this country become a political force, we just might have a chance.

      REMEMBER THE BERN! Let that be our battle cry.

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Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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