by Gaynell Terrell
I spoke today with a Democratic party staffer who said a lot is riding, nationally, on Montana’s special election. Two minutes later I spoke to a Montana voter who said Rob Quist was not her first choice for Congress and she wasn’t energized. That’s okay – this can still work for everyone.
That’s because the rollout of a new health care plan and the president’s budget are not good signs of things to come. A lot of people in Montana like having health care. They like Meals on Wheels and PBS and funding public schools. Montana voters don’t like threats to public lands, or polluted streams and lands and dirty air.
It’s apparent the GOP takes “red state Montana” for granted. Truth is, Montana values aren’t always Democrat or Republican – we cross party lines. (Hello, Democratic governor and Republican legislature.) Which brings us back to Rob Quist, who happens to be the Democratic nominee. He may not be your first choice, but what he stands for grows on you. He supports Social Security and Medicare, veterans’ programs, public schools, tax reform for small businesses, agriculture and trade. He would streamline student loans and cap interest rates. He would work to provide health care for everyone, not cut out older, poorer, rural Americans the way the current plan does.
He is against wholesale transfer or sale of public lands into private ownership. He would work for paycheck equality. He believes in Native American tribal sovereignty. He’s not held an elective office, but has represented Montana for years as a cultural ambassador, fundraised for the Montana Food Network and served two terms on the Montana Arts Council.
Read the web page, go hear him talk. We can make this work.
Sen. Steve Daines has insulted Quist’s integrity and looked down on his musical accomplishments. Yes, Quist supported Sen. Bernie Sanders, who remains one of the most popular politicians in the nation, with a base in Montana. And music is a compelling force in Quist’s life and he’s right proud of entertaining us good folk. I’d think less of Daines if I knew he didn’t like music.
Back to my first phone call. There’s something in politics called momentum. If Montana sets an example by voting for values instead of political parties, it could set up the coming mid-term elections for other candidates who are value driven. People driven. And we’d have Meals on Wheels, which incidentally cost less than paying for security at the president’s private Florida club. Camp David has been used by every other president since FDR in 1942, but Trump called it “rustic,” which just goes to show he doesn’t get Montana values.
The presidential election was all about stirring the pot, helping a middle-class America that works hard but never gets ahead. The experiment didn’t quite work, but we can change that, too, and put value-driven candidates in place to speak for all of us. It all starts with voting Quist for Congress on May 25, right here in Montana. And we’ll build from there.
Gaynell Terrell lives southwest Montana.