2018 Election Featured Jon Tester Matt Rosendale Montana Politics Senate Race 2018

The Dangerous Emptiness of Matt Rosendale’s Campaign for Senate

I just haven’t been able to shake the feeling that Matt Rosendale might be the worst candidate Montana Republicans have put up for national office in a long time. It’s not that he’s from Maryland, that he lies about his resume, or even that he is a marionette whose handlers, whether Steve Bannon or the Club for Growth, don’t even bother to hide the strings they use to make him dance.

It’s that, as a candidate, Rosendale has no vision, no agenda, no policy proposals other than a slavering devotion to Donald Trump. A review of Rosendale’s social media demonstrates an unseemly devotion to President Trump that extends as far as aping his incoherent use of capitalization to emphasize arguments hardly worth the attention.

And the problem for Rosendale–and Montana if he gets elected–is that there is no Trump agenda. Other than childish babbling about making America great again, a rhetorically empty phrase devoid of policy, the only Trump agenda is Donald Trump.

He ran for the Presidency with the intention of enriching himself and now that he won by hook and crook, his entire agenda is to survive without being impeached or watching his children get thrown in prison. There’s no vision for American foreign policy other than coddling despots and alienating our best allies, no domestic policy other than needlessly cruel efforts to destroy immigrant families, and no reform policy to end the corruption that plagues our political and economic life.

Where is the huge infrastructure plan candidate Trump promised? Where is the plan to make the American healthcare system the best in the world he said we’d have? The leadership to pass a bill to truly reform immigration?

They are all as absent as Matt Rosendale is from his elected office lately.

Though some Republicans and even members of the professional press still stubbornly pretend otherwise, there’s no Trump policy because the President, with the attention span and impulse control of a toddler, has neither the mind for policy discussions nor the concern for the country to develop it.

And somehow, with no other evidence than a disastrous tax cut, Matt Rosendale has thrown his entire support–and entire candidacy–behind President Trump.

That’s perhaps what makes Rosendale such a dangerous candidate. Montana’s elected officials have always maintained a streak of independence when they arrive in Washington, in part because it’s been a political necessity, but also because our influence depends on it. Whether it’s working across party lines to pass bills like Senator Tester has done or standing up against the President during the war in Vietnam as Mike Mansfield did, Montana is best served by Senator and Representatives who understand that their role is to protect the interests of our state and people, not simply to follow the national political winds.

We need an independent voice in Washington–one who ensures funding for veterans’ homes in Butte, not against them as Rosendale did, one who votes to protect our public lands, not vote to sell them as Rosendale did, one who votes to ensure healthcare for all Montanans, not one who has spent his time as Montana’s top insurance regulator coddling the very industry he’s meant to oversee as Rosendale has done.

We need a person who understands Montana, not a MAGA-screaming outsider who honestly seems to believe that he’s running to support the illusory Trump agenda rather than running to vote for and look out for Montanans.

Ultimately, it’s hard to say what would be worse, that Rosendale actually believes in the increasingly incoherent, dishonest rhetoric that comes from President Trump’s Twitter feed or that he, like Trump, only has one real agenda, promoting himself.

In either case, it’s perfectly appropriate that one East Coast real estate developer who is only concerned about himself is celebrating the arrival of another. As for the rest of us, let’s celebrate our Independence Day holiday working for a candidate who has worked to always put Montana first and look forward to this being the last election season we need to hear from candidate Rosendale.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an 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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