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2020 Governor Communities Featured Greg Gianforte Montana Legislature Montana Politics

Candidate Dr. O and His Desire to Strip Healthcare from Montanans

On the surface, it’s easy to see why Montanans and the media have taken so easily to Dr. Al Olszewski’s candidacy: doctor, veteran, he’s from the west, his Lt. Guv pick is from the east, he’s an adoptive father, small business owner, he isn’t Greg Gianforte, etc. And so far the media has been pretty quiet on digging much further into his policies and platform; content to just take the preceding list at face value.

Even his website is bare bones: no policy positions, few paragraphs of biography, half a dozen endorsement paragraphs. Without much to go on there, Montana voters will have to begin to dig deep into his Legislative voting record, Senate campaign statements/articles, press, and associations.

Both Dr. Al and his running mate Kenneth Bogner (SD-19) voted against Medicaid Expansion in the Legislature: demonstrating that they are comfortable stripping healthcare from 1/10th of Montana’s population. Both candidates are eager to say they “support healthcare”, but the campaign website makes no mention of how Montanans can afford to pay for the increasing expense of healthcare, or what will happen with all of the uninsured Montanans Al and Kenneth are determined to create through their NO votes. 

Thanks to the beauty of the Internet, Al’s previous run for U.S. Senate (2018), and a very supportive PAC (Excellence in Voting PAC): the website Swampproof is a treasure trove of Al videos, endorsements, and statements. The linked YouTube channel is practically a love letter to Dr. Oszlewski in year-old video clips. Text from Al’s campaign website is word-for-word repeated on the Swampproof’s pages. At least the fan website paid for by Excellence in Voting PAC has some policy positions and platform posted. (Also, if someone has some time to kill: the association between Al and this PAC might be worth some investigative energy.)

In these videos we can witness Dr. O’s:

  • Desires to reduce to next-to-nothing the Montana State Government and all of the important services our tax dollars provide.
  • Eagerness to privatize crucial services and allow the free market to rule (and take advantage of vulnerable populations).
  • Servility to Trump and the corruption of the current administration (the title of the fan website demonstrates that irony is, yet again, dead to the MTGOP).
  • Aspirations of being involved in every Montana woman’s visit to her doctor and throwing his support behind bills claiming to end the erroneous instances of “infanticide” (none of which are documented anywhere in America; pure fiction). With his doctor credentials, his rhetoric is beyond inflammatory and is medically dangerous.
  • And, as mentioned above, immediate plans to strip Montanans of their healthcare with no solid backup plan.

Both Bogner and Olszewski are making tracks around the state trying to demonstrate to Republican Primary voters that they are a safe alternative to Greg Gianforte. Heck they’ve even gone after Greg’s campaign and the Susan B. Anthony List directly in a contrast attempt that looked an awful lot like mudslinging.

It is refreshing to see MTGOP candidates out and about visiting with voters in public — it’s a nice contrast to Greg Gianforte and Steve Daines who hide from voters and tough questions even here in the east. Bogner, to his credit, spends miles and time covering his territory over in SD-19; his selection as a running mate was smart and strategic. Dr. Al is trying to shore up more than a margin of victory in Eastern Montana — he’s looking to win this territory solid.

I gave credit where it was due — Olszewski and Bogner are “showing up”, but Montanans shouldn’t be fooled by their smart campaign strategy. Their Medicaid Expansion vote, just by itself, is practically a disqualifier. Even if we discredit the other policies and positions we’ve found by digging around fanboy websites and we ignore his dangerous talk about non-existent infanticide, we are still presented with a Governor candidate and a Lt. Governor candidate who are tripping over themselves to strip healthcare from vulnerable Montanans.

Voters, we’re better than this.

***

For viable alternatives to the dumpster fires presented by the MTGOP, please check out:

Mike Cooney, Reilly Neill, Casey Schreiner, and Whitney Williams.

And before everyone leaps down my throat — YES, the majority of Democratic candidates above could do much better about shoring up their policies and positions on their campaign websites. Hint hint. 

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.

About the author

Plains Feminist

Montana and national politics from a Southeastern Montana perspective, focusing on regional activism, womxn’s issues, LGBTQ equality, education, and revitalization of the Montana Democratic Party. Being a liberal east of Billings has unique and intense challenges, and Plains Feminist tries (sometimes fruitfully, sometimes not so much) to educate the hard-working folks who *eek* out a living on the “not mountains” side of the state. Plains Feminist enjoys intellectual banter over coffee or beer preferably after dark. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @PlainsFeminist.

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  • The websites of candidates have little to no information on issues because the campaigns believe that making the same message available to everyone would reduce the effectiveness of microtargeting voters. Microtargeting wins elections but undermines democracy

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