Your Time is Now

The generation younger than me offers plenty of hope toward a better way, a better day

By Mike Jopek

If political ideology matters more than facts, please stop reading. You’ve already made up your mind. Go directly online and comment negatively. Nothing here matters to anyone not seeking.

It sounds cruel, short. It’s not. It’s the reality facing people across the nation. Many people have made up their minds.

I’m not here to convince you of anything. I’m a simple farmer putting down some words every month.

I’m a Montanan like you, trying to earn a living. I work the soil and attempt to bring decency into politics. So I say. I know some disagree.

To some, the time I’ve served in Helena tainted my views. That’s okay. You’ve made it into the fifth paragraph, so you must be somewhat interested, a thinking person willing to entertain the ideas of a fellow human.

This time of year, I spend enormous amounts of time outdoors. The snow has mostly melted from our fields, the earthworms are again active, and the dirt rich. The hoophouse is full of plugs seeking to ground, waiting for waters to recede and temperatures to normalize. It’s happening. Green onions are in the ground.

Recently, several graduate students from Missoula visited the farm, seeking an alternative spring break. Students organized and wanted time on a working farm. We’ve hosted many Millennials over the decades.

People ages 20 to 35 became the largest voting block in America. It’s a demographic offering much hope for America. Nationwide, we appear adrift in a sea of old man divisiveness and bitterness. Someone toss us a line so we can get real.

The hope that our younger generation offers is real. The grad students from Missoula were articulate, smart and motivated. Seemingly less concerned in Republican or Democrat solutions, more about doing what’s right.

I’m struck with the reality that social justice motives this generation. When one person is wronged, society is wronged. That’s more paramount today than the environmental concerns facing my youth decade ago.

People ages 20 to 35 want solutions. The tired practice of saying one thing and voting another way is all too familiar. That kind of double talk turns off all but the most fanatical base voters.

It’s infuriating how some politicians run their mouths about how great the new forest reforms are, or how much a new veteran’s home is needed in Montana, yet vote against the law.

That’s nonsense. A politician’s vote is their record — always has been, always will be. No amount of explaining changes that fact.

When Pearl Jam bassist and skateboard park philanthropist Jeff Ament returns to Missoula come August, the city will turn out to music but also a message. Ament grew up driving tractors in Big Sandy and worked the farm adjacent to his friend Sen. Jon Tester.

Ament, who is five years younger than Tester, says that his Rock2Vote Project is about making sure “people get out and have a conversation and talk through the process.”

To Ament, progress and change occurs through communication. “It was through those conversations you had, you know, with the people in your art class or the people you’re going to see music with,” he recently told Montana Public Radio.

The generation younger than me offers plenty of hope toward a better way, a better day. Every year on the farm, as the waves of robins return from their winter habitat, I convince myself with farmer optimism that this will be the best season yet. The 2018 crop looks promising.

Ament also told The Associated Press, “It’s hard not to be inspired by the youth movement right now on a national level. We’ll certainly follow their lead.”

If the younger generation actually cast votes as Ament suggests, the politicians will quickly wise up and listen. The vote counts.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.