Opinion

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Uncommon Ground

Vote Tuesday for Reason

Voter fatigue will soon take a strangle hold upon the electorate.

Voter fatigue will soon take a strangle hold upon the electorate. With busloads of corporate and secret campaign cash being poured into Montana, citizens will simply tune out.

Most statewide and national races will poll 46 percent to 46 percent from now until October. And then the 8 percent of undecided voters will choose the president of the United States, our Montana senator, our Montana governor, and plenty of lower ballot races.

Until November, expect the wild west of campaigns to dominate the televisions, mailboxes, social media, and our telephones as out-of-state political surrogates bad mouth candidates.

All this negative advertising will achieve one thing: lower voter turnout.

And in tight races, keeping good and decent people out of the polls increases the odds that the candidates that the corporate surrogates support win elections.

Who votes in elections determines who wins. And who wins the primary sets the stage for what tone of general election voters will be subject to in the fall. Your vote matters as there are multiple races where a handful of votes determined the outcome.

Last November’s election landslide in Whitefish was highlighted by the highest voter turnout in memory. More people voted than ever before to elect a Whitefish-friendly city council and mayor.

That is strikingly different from the year prior when former Congressman Pat Williams pointed out – in a statewide column – that in the 2010 general elections a meager 56 percent of Montanans voted. Williams wrote, “The results of low turnouts are almost always the same: candidates on the political fringe win.”

There is no more recent example for why reasonable people should re-engage in the civic duty of voting than the fanaticism of the 2011 Montana Legislature. If middle-class Montanans want a repeat performance of those kooky politics, they can simply stay home and not vote.

Fringe candidates winning the primary election will have their own “Etch a Sketch” moment and become moderates for the November election. But once fringe candidates are elected into power, their true and callous policies emerge.

In choosing who to vote for, note how the candidate made an effort to be accessible, how much of a proven track record do they have on getting stuff done, and were they, or their political surrogates, a positive or negative influence during the campaign.

Expect the same work ethic from candidates – if they become elected officials – that they demonstrate during the campaign. If candidates or their political surrogates behave overly negative, expect more negativism if the candidate is elected.
But really, how much nattering negativism do Montanans want?

Most Montanans still have hope and optimism that our best days are ahead of us. There is little that can stop the spirit of Montanans who are willing to do the work that matters in moving us forward as a society.

And yes there are the angry candidates, those willing to continually tear us down. But the vast majority of Montanans want a better world for our children and their children. Our kids deserve as much and a better opportunity than we have to succeed in life and raise a family.

No amount of negative corporate election cash can take away that dream for a better tomorrow. And by voting in Tuesday’s open primary election, citizens will once again prove the power of democracy.

Low voter turnout perpetuates a negative outlook. Low voter turnout assures that fanatics continue to paint a deranged political portrait of our democracy.

But Montanans know better. We are all in this together. There are still plenty of people moderate enough to work with each other to make our community better.

Add your voice to the open primary ballot box. Vote for reason this Tuesday.