It’s always a tale of two senators in Montana and the contrast could not be more stark. In Jon Tester you have a big, hulking farmer, quick to laugh and speak his mind, on the other hand you have Steve Daines who comes across as stiff, rigid and phony to constituents. Just look at this clip of Daines to get that slimy feeling from him:
The plastic smile and manufactured remarks of Senator Daines remind us of everything that is wrong in Washington D.C. and brings me to the second point of the key distinctions between Senator Tester and Senator Daines. The citizen in the Daines video was explicitly asking Senator Daines to hold in-person town hall and Daines could only mention his telephone conference calls with screened questions.
On the other hand you have just re-elected Senator Tester holding town halls in Daines town of residence, Bozeman, without anyone even having to ask him.
Tester also listens to his constituents and develops policy by listening to what is best for them, Daines would need to hold town halls to listen.
At the Bozeman town hall that occurred yesterday Senator Tester fielded a question from Sara Blessing, a Montanan very concerned with her future as climate change is an imminent threat to her generation.
Sara Blessing asked Senator Tester:
“I’m wondering if you’ll support the Green New Deal and if not what is your plan to give my generation a future that is being rapidly stolen from us?”
Senator Tester responded:
“I support the fact that we need to have a debate on climate change.”
“Most of this is solved by putting resources in research and development.”
Tester was referring to research to make renewable energy production and storage more safe and affordable. He spoke of his personal experience in seeing the great leaps wind and solar energy have taken in his lifetime and how we need to develop them further.
Watch Sara’s question and Senator Tester’s response here:
Senator Tester did have some opposition to pieces of the Green New Deal, he stated:
“There are other things in the Green New Deal that I just can’t support, in other words, a job, period. You get a job. If I’d have been in high school and someone would have said ‘no matter what you do, no matter how much alcohol you drink, no matter how bad you’ve done to your community you get a job’, that just doesn’t work for me.”
This is the portion of the green new deal that proposes a job guarantee for every American. Tester continued:
“The issues that she(Rep. Ocasio Cortez) put in about climate, I think we need to have that debate.”
Senator Tester finished his statement on whether he supported the Green New Deal:
“Kind of yes, kind of no.”
To me, it sounds like Senator Tester supports efforts to address climate change, but he has questions about the overarching ambition of the Green New and the full scope and exact language.
Senator Tester was gracious and listened and then had an answer that was complicated and not all that comforting. While he agreed that “we need to find out what’s appropriate” when it comes to addressing climate change, the realities of the modern era were a concern. He stated about the use of diesel fuel in his tractor:
“I don’t have any other options, give me options. That’s what more research and development will do.”
Sara Blessing is a lifelong resident of Gallatin County, she was born and raised in Reese Creek, a small farming community north of Bozeman so small that I had never heard of it until Sara mentioned it in her question, and I was raised in Bozeman.
Sara is real Montana, just like Jon Tester.
Sara is a member of the Sunrise Movement, a group started by teens and students in college to address climate change on the global scale. The Sunrise Movement has rallied around the Green New Deal as a mechanism to solve the global crisis of climate change and is focused on immediately and rapidly addressing climate change in the next 10 years before we reach the point of no return with global average temperature increases which threaten the future of human life on the globe.
I’ve heard Senator Daines lives in Belgrade, that’s not important and it his home address should stay private. We all deserve our privacy. Sara probably was born and raised 15 minutes from where Steve Daines currently resides but she couldn’t be further away from his dangerous policies on climate change that endanger her future and the future of our country and world.
Senator Daines called the Green New Deal “Venezuelan socialism.”
This is the sort of dangerous rhetoric that moves us backwards in addressing this crisis and has no place in the marketplace of ideas on such a catastrophic concern.
In the last few years climate change has caused wildfires and hurricanes, like the destructive and unprecedented Hurricane Sandy which struck New York City. Just in the last few weeks tornadoes and flooding across the United States have devastated crops and communities as well as the national security risks the flooding caused when it damaged a storage facility for a vital aerial command center, as Reuters reported:
Flooded U.S. Air Force base underscores climate risk to security: experts
Last week’s “bomb cyclone” storm flooded about 60 structures including 30 buildings at the Offutt Air Force Base, said Ryan Hansen, a spokesman for the 55th Wing, a unit providing reconnaissance, intelligence and combat support to U.S. leaders.
Eight planes in the 55th Wing had to leave the base, Hansen said, and workers might not be able to assess damage to hangers and maintenance buildings until the end of the week.
One of the planes was a Boeing-made E4-B plane, one four the Air Force has that are meant to serve as an aerial command center in case of national emergency or destruction of ground bases, such as in a nuclear attack. Two E4-B’s were also damaged by a tornado at Offutt in 2017, CNN reported at the time.
Francesco Femia, the co-founder of the Center for Climate and Security, said the flooding shows that the White House needs to let the military do its job in assessing the climate threat.
“This is an example of a vital threat to our national security from a climate-related disaster, and more of this kind of thing is likely in the future,” Femia said.
I would love to hear Senator Daines answer a question about the Green New Deal with the respect and thoughtfulness that Senator Tester did yesterday in Bozeman. Thank you, Senator Tester for having the courage to do the job you were elected to do and listen to Montanans and take their tough questions. While I disagree with some of what Senator Tester said, I appreciate that he was willing to start the conversation.
Thank goodness people like Sara Blessing exist to ask these questions. Without active, engaged and tenacious citizens our government quickly falls prey to lobbyists and the D.C. bubble mentality. Senator Tester knows this and knows he must listen so he can learn from us and we can help him deliver what we need for a better future…or any future.
One person reflected on climate change and the burning of the Notre Dame in Paris:
Last night I went on a run. I couldn’t stop my mind from picturing all the world’s wonders that are dying or will die due to climate change, war, and environmental destruction. How will we mourn DC when it goes underwater? The national mall? The Lincoln Memorial? The White House?
I almost feel grateful that we can focus on mourning one old building right now. Soon it will all be too much. Entire cities, gone, without pause or notice.
If you feel sad about Notre Dame, join @sunrisemvmt and help fight the biggest threat to humanity as we know it.