We've been in Montana for two years and change now so the state and local political landscapes are much clearer to us than when we last voted in a general election, a mere three months after our arrival.
We look at where candidates claim to stand on the issues only as a first cut. It is important to dig. We are pretty thorough in vetting candidates in order to understand their backgrounds, political and life experiences, and governing philosophies. We don't expect people to be saints in their personal lives, but integrity in the public arena is non-negotiable.
Candidates reveal themselves in the choices they make in life and their achievements (or lack thereof), much more so than in any 30 second radio or TV spot. Many times the most revealing information you can get on a politician (or most anyone else for that matter) is what they do when they don't think anyone is looking. I look for candidates who have the background, the motivation and the will to do the right thing.
Montana is an odd state politically. To oversimplify a bit, voters are both anti-corporate and anti-government, or conversely pro-union and pro-liberty. When anti-corporate sentiments are brewing the Democrats do well. When anti-government animus is rising the Republicans do well.
Second Amendment rights and insistence on the freedom to bear arms without state interference are huge. You walk into any sporting goods store, a ranch supply outlet, or even the Costgo, gun safes are front and center. This is not about abstractions. It's a matter of everyday life.
Let me offer an example. For whatever reason, the deer population around town is up this year and there has been a lot of road kill. It has been coming up in conversation lately on a regular basis.
I was talking to "Brian" about the dead deer scourge, when he mentioned that he was driving down Churchill Road the other day, and saw a severely injured deer writhing along the roadside. He stopped and got out of his truck, and observed the deer was mortally injured. He returned to his vehicle and retrieved his hand gun to put the young buck out of its misery. A few days later I was talking with "Jay." He had seen a badly injured deer on River Road a few days previous. He mentioned that he retrieved his pistol from his Subaru and effected the same result. I mentioned these incidents to "Dale" who told me that he had done the same thing many times, out in the country of course. He wouldn't shoot anything in town.
All these guys hard working, salt of the earth, decent, honorable and self reliant as they are, if they lived in DC, and were stopped and searched as a result of a traffic violation, would be arrested for felony gun possession and would be looking at doing hard time.
We live outside of town. In the two plus years we have lived here I have seen maybe a half dozen times a county sheriff's department patrol vehicle out our way. In stark contrast, there were plenty of days back in Arlington, Virginia in non-emergency situations, that I saw that many police cars in one place at one time (usually near the Dunkin Donut or hanging in the Goodwill parking lot, middle of the night). We may be lightly policed out here, but I can vouch that most (perhaps all) of my neighbors are armed with rifles and semi-automatic hand guns. They say don't mess with Texas, but you are bananas if you mess with citizens in Montana. Firearms are really important.
My view of the political world, forged by 33 years in Washington, DC, and decades of economic and financial analysis, is the federal government is too big, too wasteful, too debt ridden, too deficit driven, too imposing, too burdensome, too incompetent and too ready to pull the trigger, literally and figuratively. That doesn't mean I believe in no government. It does mean we marched right past what was reasonable, fiscally sustainable, and efficient and effective, many years ago. No sincere effort to productively reduce or limit any aspect of the federal government, or identify major paybacks from increased accountability, would come up empty. Washington, DC is totally out of control.
I don't vote for anyone or anything, and I never have, because someone promised they would give me something. My voting these days is colored substantially by the reality that we are $18 trillion in debt, at perhaps the worst possible time, when we are about to see federal expenditures inexorably climb as the baby boom demographic tsunami makes the country's most populous generation takers instead of makers. I would be happy to see my federal pension limited or shaved as part of genuine fiscal reform because that would be good for the country and great for my children.
You mix all the above together and my views are very much libertarian -- I say libertarian leaning because I don't vote based on party labels. Running under the Libertarian Party banner doesn't qualify someone as the best choice in a given election, anymore than does qualifying for the ballot as a Democrat or Republican.
So here are my 2014 choices for federal office. I pray that they are right.
United States Senate.
One of the positive things about Montana is many of the Republican candidates have a libertarian streak. So it is with the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, Steve Daines. Daines is a first term U.S. Congressman who has taken votes to limit the size of the federal government even when those votes have been unpopular with constituents. His campaign motto is "More Jobs, Less Government." He means it. And he is not a lawyer.
Daines is a local boy in his youth elected president of the student council at Bozeman High School,who earned a chemical engineering degree at Montana State, went to work internationally for Proctor and Gamble, and then returned to work in Bozeman with his father in the construction business. Through that work, Daines became acquainted with Greg Gianforte, founder of Right Now Technolgies, a highly successful tech startup that Daines joined, producing together hundreds of high paid jobs in the Bozeman area. I have been unable to find anyone who knows Daines personally or professionally who has a bad thing to say about the man or his character.
On the other side, the Democrats have been royal screw ups. Known for 36 years as Max Baucus' seat, Democrats have held this senate seat for a hundred years. Realizing that his role in drafting and managing the passage of Obamacare would likely be fatal in the 2014 election, Baucus announced his intention to retire and spend more time in his beloved Montana. It turns out that Montana is the neighborhood of Beijing, where an Obama offered ambassadorship beckoned.
Democratic Governor and lawyer, Steve Bullock, chose John Walsh, his buddy and lieutenant governor, to complete Baucus' term when Max left for China. General Walsh, US Army, Ret., was touted for his honor in serving state and country, having commanded the Montana national guard and having served a rotation deployed in Iraq. Bullock was looking to give Walsh the edge of incumbency going into November's election. Wash's candidacy imploded in July when it was unearthed that he had plagiarized a paper required to earn his masters degree at the US Army War College. Walsh first responded claiming he made some paperwork errors and had done nothing wrong (virtually the entire paper was copied without attribution from other sources), then claimed post traumatic stress disorder and anti-anxiety drugs. Then he blamed his fraud on a soldier's suicide. Finally, he quit the campaign realizing his credibility and honor shticks were shot (his masters degree has been subsequently revoked and his rank as general will eventually follow).
The Democrats chose to replace Walsh with one Amanda Curtis, a school teacher and first time Montana house legislator from Butte, who is really good at dissing, sassing and mocking her opponents (with a great big smile, of course), but not much of anything else. Vote for one of us she says. Check this out.
Curtis has said some unflattering things about gun rights, and Christians, and her desire to punch other lawmakers in the face—all of them in YouTube diaries she broadcast as commentaries on the Montana legislative session. Nothing terribly far-out there. The far-out part is her association with the Wobblies.
The Wobblies are the Industrial Workers of the World, a hard-left union of historical vintage that let the 20th century pass it by. “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common,” the group proclaims. “Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.”
Nothing says “modern, forward-thinking progressive” like warmed-over Lenin.Well I ain't one of you, thank God, and Amanda, I hope the campaign lets you keep your spiffy new wardrobe when you return to the mining city for the next semester.
Curtis’ husband is more active in the IWW than she, but her admiration for communist economics doesn’t stop there. Not long ago she replaced her Facebook profile picture with a photo of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, the former chairwoman of the Communist Party USA.
RealClear Politics has spotted the Montana senate seat as the most likely to change parties in November.
As an aside, the Libertarian party candidate for senate is one Roger Roots a one-time skinhead and Nazi sympathizer, whose libertarian roots appear to be solely grounded in the legal arena. He has no economic cred. It appears he is a part year Montana resident. I never seriously considered voting for the man.
I will be happy to vote for Steve Daines.
US House Race
Here we are a mile high amid the mountains in Montana. And the mainstream party choices are a Capitol Hill staffer and a Navy Seal. I do not lie.
John Lewis, the Democrat, worked for Max Baucus. He has shot a single TV commercial in which he smugly states, "I will balance the budget the right way." When asked in the first debate what programs he would trim or eliminate to balance the budget, Lewis could not identify a single one. Enough for the lying scalawag.
Ryan Zinke is a Navy Seal. Did I tell you. Ryan Zinke is a Navy Seal? Did I forget to mention, Ryan Zinke is a Navy Seal? Zinke won with the minority of the votes over three serious challengers in the Republican primary, two of whom were libertarian leaning candidates I would have been happy to vote for in November. Too bad they split up the vote. Zinke has zero cred on economic and fiscal issues, and not much of a philosophical core, other than he knows how to lead us into combat and war.
We turn to Mike Fellows, Libertarian Party candidate for Congress.
Welcome to the Mike Fellows for Congress Web site. Libertarians agree that you should live your own life without infringing on the rights of others. Government is simply force with a little mob rule thrown in.
Mike Fellows is running because we have no Fiscal Conservative that represents Montana. Congress continues to spend like drunken sailors. The national debt keeps rising with no end in site. Our dollar is weak and we see higher prices as a result.
Please get out and vote. There are choices in folks who want a smaller government and lower taxes rather then the Tax and Spend or the Borrow and Spend candidates. Thanks for visiting and we look forward to your vote and help.In the 2012 election, Mike Fellows ran for Clerk of the Montana Supreme Court, and received 43 percent of the vote, the strongest partisan election performance for statewide office of any Libertarian candidate ever.
Mike Fellows is our choice for Montana's at large seat in the United States House of Representatives.