Perhaps the only things as certain in this era of rapid climate change as devastating fires every summer are the empty words of politicians while firefighters risk their lives and their health fighting them.
Yesterday, as the North Hills fire raged outside Helena, both Steve Daines and Matt Rosendale offered platitudes online, with Rosendale even choosing to post it on his candidate, rather than personal, page for maximum cynical value.
So what’s the harm of Daines and Rosendale offering their thoughts to the men and women risking their lives fighting this and other fires across the state? Surely, like all of us, they’re grateful that there are people willing to take such risky jobs for the sake of the rest of us.
It’s that both Rosendale and Daines have voted against healthcare for firefighters, and their messaging-tested expressions are the empty words of politicians who are only grateful as long as they don’t have to actually provide real assistance to firefighters.
We chronicled Rosendale’s bad votes last year during his Senate campaign. I’m not sure why Rosendale thinks posting pictures of fires and some empty words will erase his record, but during his time in the Legislature, he repeatedly voted against the interests of the very firefighters he seems to enjoy photographing. There may not have been a Legislator in the past generation who has a worse record on firefighter health and safety than Matt Rosendale, who voted against their workers’ compensation, their hunting and fishing rights, and their pension benefits.
And Steve Daines is no better. While 9/11 first responders including the firefighters who raced into burning buildings to save the victims of a terrorist attack have been dying while fighting Congress for compensation, Daines voted against a bipartisan measure to make their healthcare benefits permanent in 2015.
And that’s how “grateful” and “thankful” Rosendale and Daines are: just enough to post some empty virtue-signaling words online but not enough to support them legislatively.
In this era where tweets and Facebook posts substitute for meaningful action, let’s hold these two accountable for their votes and not give them any credit for their empty words. The first responders who throw themselves into danger certainly deserve better.