Trust, But Verify

Ignore much of the utter nonsense that will pervade our midterm elections, but volunteer and then turn out to vote for Jon Tester

By Mike Jopek

Summertime finally arrived. Glacier National Park employees got the Going-to-the-Sun Road plowed out, and tourists flocked to the Flathead. It looks like it’s going to be a banner year, another full summer.

Late springtime rains turned the fields as vibrant green as any old-time Fourth of July. Even the deer, which are still hanging out in the local neighborhoods, put on their lush spring coats.

Soon locals will rediscover their favorite swimming hole, hike some great trails, or get farther out of town, away from the never-ending crowds of economy-driving tourists that descend upon our beautiful valley.

Wherever locals go to enjoy the summertime will likely be absent from the nasty politics that has infested our nation. The days of getting along with others are on sabbatical. That makes me sad.

I’ve enjoyed middle-road politics for decades. Having served in two out of the three sessions where the Montana House was politically tied 50-50, I witnessed how compromise is the bedrock of democracy. Today that sounds old-fashioned.

Sure it’s easier to control all the marbles, to govern under one-party rule. But nationally things got weird, really weird. It’s hard to deny it. It’s impossible to ignore it. Somebody better fix it, and fast.

When conservative political commentator George Will recently penned a column asking his fellow Republicans to vote against his party it caught my attention. I’m likely not alone. People can see the problem. Checks and balances is the solution.

Will wrote, in part, “In today’s GOP, which is the president’s plaything, he is the mainstream. So to vote against his party’s cowering congressional caucuses is to affirm the nation’s honor while quarantining him.”

Will is right. Our nation needs us. That ageless concept of keeping policy accountable to voters is what keeps our democracy alive, our community prospering, and our way of life free.

I get it that most of the Flathead voted for our current president. And that he’s likely reelected for a second term in 2020.

Yet this fall’s midterm elections offer voters an opportunity to check and balance our government. Moderate voters know that democracy works better when one side doesn’t control everything.

Step into the scene, Sen. Jon Tester. Tester is a friend to Montana. His no-nonsense service routinely cuts through the minutia of politics.

Tester has the keen political ability to get stuff done. He’s productive and sent more bills to this president, which got signed into law, than any other member of the Montana delegation or many members in Congress.

Tester is the only member of the Montana congressional delegation who actually voted for laws like the new veteran’s home is Butte, community healthcare centers across Montana, timber management funding reforms, and money to secure our borders. Others just talk.

Tester routinely stands up for Montana when it matters. Recently the president sent his people to court to dismantle the consumer health care protections for preexisting medical conditions.

No one but the administration thinks that demolishing preexisting condition protections is good health care policy or moral for aging Montana. Yet the GOP-controlled Congress is as silent as a mouse standing in plain sight of a barn cat.

A split state government served Montana well for decades. It also worked when Ronald Reagan ran the White House and Tip O’Neill was Speaker of the House.

Democracy works when voters trust, but verify. Compromise is what we teach our kids and it’s what we should demand from the adults in the room.

Enjoy the summertime outdoors. Go ahead and ignore much of the utter nonsense that will pervade our midterm elections, but volunteer and then turnout to vote for Jon Tester. Do it publicly or secretly, yet preserve our democracy for another Fourth of July.

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