In thinking about the forthcoming special election for our next U.S. congressman, my mind was brought back to my school days required reading of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1841 famous essay entitled “Self Reliance.” While a difficult read, particularly in today’s age of vocabulary erosion, Mr. Emerson espouses a scathing denunciation of what we today call “political correctness” or personal hypocrisy, and enforces the need to be an independent force in society, beholden only to one’s self.
Montana values in the folklore of the state’s image concern people of fierce independence who have withstood the ravages of weather and climate to make a living from the natural resources of the state. Timber, mining, agriculture, ranching all involve inner strength, determination and courage which are the hard rock of Montana values. Starting a ranch, opening a mine, irrigating a field, building a sawmill, all were entrepreneurial startups, and only with perseverance were they successful. The power of an idea and the freedom to exploit it is what makes Montana and America unique.
Our impending election pits two candidates against one another with totally opposing belief systems.
One is the entrepreneur who has capitalized on the resources of the mind to create a great company here in Montana based on his idea of how to overcome a 21st century business problem.
His history includes starting a successful software company while in high school, running a team of developers for an outside company while in college, working after college for prestigious Bell Labs, and then forming his own software development company. This he sold and was able to move to his first love, Montana, to bootstrap from his bedroom what became Right Now Technologies. This is the record of a self-made and self-reliant success, a model of Conservatism.
His competitor is a model of Bernie Sanders Liberalism.
While initially successful as a band musician with some national exposure, he progressively leveraged himself beyond his ability to support his ambition, depending on his celebrity notoriety to acquire debt without adequate cash flow. Records show a 16-year debt trail, dating back well before his health problems surfaced.
Unlike the Montana value of self reliance, he blames others for his misfortunes and uses his position as a candidate to draw a salary from his campaign funds.
His non-Montanan values include supporting Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders views including: increasing taxes to offer more free giveaways such as college tuition; national gun control registration which inevitably leads to federal gun confiscation; single payer socialized medicine often referred to as “death panels” for seniors; and sanctuary cities, a magnet drawing to our Montana communities people who are avoiding or have committed crimes against established American law. These Democrat Socialists he supports also favor immigration of peoples who have their own laws which are in direct conflict with U.S. law, and have no intention of assimilation into our Montana way of life.
It is clear that only one candidate, Greg Gianforte, has Montana values. Since the sale of his business five years ago, he has devoted his time and money to giving back to Montana by starting and financing multiple programs at the secondary and university level in computer science. He has started successful programs in entrepreneurship, personally mentored numerous aspiring entrepreneurs and given millions in philanthropy to causes which he and his wife support.
Rob Quist, his ultra-liberal opponent, represents the antithesis of these values, Montana values, which have made Montana unique and great.
Freeman E. Robinson