Fall Chores

Maybe voters will bring some balance and clarity to our murky future

By Mike Jopek

The wind picked up. The sky was howling. The yellow, light green and orange leaves were blowing on trees in the field.

We’d taken the dogs out for their evening walkabout. Autumn was in the air.

Toward the west, pink clouds flooded the sky. Suddenly they seemed within reach, just overhead in the misty low flying clouds. The east lit up – the pink cloudbursts had taken over the entire evening sunset.

We’re putting the farm to bed. Soon the garlic will go into the ground, hoping for a good 2019 season.

A farmer has to remain optimistic. The weather is unpredictable. We’ve learned that the cold, rain, hail, warmth, and sun come when they want. Markets turned more unstable then before.

Still, many locals are hopeful about the future. I’m trusting that locals cast and mail back that election ballot soon sitting on the kitchen table. That is, if you vote from home.

Next week, one can vote in person by going to the Flathead County Election Department.

Others will wait until Nov. 6 to vote at their local polling stations. Either way, just vote.

I have been active in local and state politics in the past. Best I could tell is that the people who show up at public meetings help make decisions, and those who cast election ballots make things happen.

A large voter turnout can bring about change. From what I’m hearing, people are excited to vote. Let’s make sure.

Remind our younger friends and our kids that a vote is a critical part of how their future is represented in the upcoming Congress and Montana Legislature.

The vote is currently the only way that 100,000 Montanans retain health insurance through Medicaid. It’s not like our state legislators have been overly joyous about using existing federal funds to help pay for health insurance for 100,000 Montanans. Only your vote will protect Medicaid health care in Montana.

The vote is the only way that Montana retains the 6-Mill Levy for higher education. The measure maintains that all property classes, from industrial to agricultural to commercial to residential, help equalize how the state’s four-year colleges are partially funded.

Sure, voting down both of the proposed initiatives would be cheaper. Cigarettes would remain $2 cheaper, but 100,000 Montanans would lose their Medicaid health care. Property taxes would go down a bit, but student tuitions would skyrocket.

We still mostly agree that Medicaid works well in Montana and maintaining those 6 mills for the state higher education is equitable.

At least that’s what we said when we voted a decade ago. Back then the same 6-Mill Levy was approved by 57 percent of voters while nearly 70 percent of us voted to considerably expand access for Montana children who need health insurance.

That was then, this is now. Things feel different. Unhinged at times. Maybe voters will bring some balance and clarity to our murky future.

The past couple of years have been just too politically mean. The one-sided, my-way-or-the-highway politics feels unjust and heartless. We deserve a government as kind, diverse, and independent as the people of Montana.

Maybe young voters will vote and cast some direction for their future. The disrespect and injustice they’re witnessing from their federal representatives warrants a vote.

It’s really all up to the youth. Vote like your future depends on it. It does.

Those cold fall winds feel familiar, like they’ve been here before. Off in the distance the aspen leaves are continually waving, churning with the wind, noisily rustling and dancing.

Soon the leaves will fall and mulch the cold ground. Autumn’s rain has arrived. It’s time to make stuff happen.

Join me and do those fall chores around the place. Act, use your voice, cast a vote, and return that ballot.

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