Opinion

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Closing Range

Why I Voted

The constant carpet-bombing drove me to mark and deliver my ballot three weeks ago

While you’re reading this on Halloween, the horror show you’re hearing on radio, finding in your mailbox, seeing on TV and reading about in the paper won’t be replaced by your favorite drug commercials until sometime late next Tuesday, Nov. 6, Election Day.

Me? The constant carpet-bombing, all of which seems to be directed at Montana’s most-gullible, most-fickle voters, drove me to mark and deliver my ballot three weeks ago. I know I’m not alone.

Now, I’m tuned out, mute button, fast forward, trash can. I’ll still squint at the fine print, scrawl a note to myself in case I can re-find the motivation needed to identify and maybe research the vast galaxy of mysterious PACs (political action committees) that have, as usual, treated Montanans like hayseed idiots this election season.

Or maybe it’s just generic American idiots. Anyone with basic satellite TV has probably seen political ads for different audiences, with all of it, in every market everywhere in America, directed at the lowest denominator – which is sadly too common. Why spend these millions, even billions, on garbage, unless, gulp – it works?

In 1789, Thomas Jefferson wrote that our Constitution was “proof that wherever the people are well-informed they can be trusted with their own government […]” – what might he write today? How would he vote? Would he bother to vote at all?

Sure he would, for lots of reasons. So did I.

Call me crazy, but above all, I chose candidates who acknowledge the legacy of freedom represented by our Constitution. It’s an amazing document, under which the United States of America has pushed human liberty so far forward, the rest of the world can only follow.

As an example, in our Bill of Rights, my first among equals is the Second Amendment. But I can’t help but wonder why so many former First Amendment stalwarts now qualify their views under catchphrases like “hate speech,” maybe “fake news” or “real news?” What about privacy, or presumptions of innocence?

What about the need for checks and balances against popular majoritarianism? Is the Electoral College still relevant? How about a Senate that gives rural America some leverage against metropolitan whims?

I support the concept of federalist, representative government. “Federalist” doesn’t mean the federal government runs everything, or grabs all the money and then expensively doles it back out. Federalist means the feds collect taxes for federal functions, states for states, local for local – in other words, government closest to the people, who get them things they are willing to pay for themselves, rather than lobbying for windfalls from others.

Representative means that voters pick, yep, representatives who will make wiser decisions than we would if we had to vote on everything ourselves. While political advertising (and much political journalism) is aimed at dummies, government is complex even before politics are added into the mix.

I’ll support politicians who understand that a diverse economy is exactly that, diverse, not just on a national, but state and local level. Montana deserves all the best, starting with producing raw materials, then converting them to higher-value goods, generating Montana profits that pay Montana workers year-round family wages at each step.

As for the economy itself, socialist or capitalist? Capitalist, hands down, without the cronyism, of course. Socialism (and cronyism) picks winners and losers on political, not rational, grounds. Only profit, lots of legitimate, honest, taxable profit, can support a legitimate, honest government.

And speaking of rational, there’s the concept of fiscal responsibility, for those who demonstrate enough intellect to realize that piling on more trillions on top of $21 trillion of national debt (never mind the unfunded liabilities) is unsustainable, no matter how fast the printing presses run. Besides brains, I can only hope they’ll also have enough guts to actually stop deficit spending and start paying things down.

Now, those who want “free stuff” from “the government” paid for by “other people’s money,” or on the other end, cronyist lobbyists after sweetheart breaks, subsidies and/or fat contracts, will never vote like me.

But just canceling out one of those votes? That’s why I voted.