There’s a petition on Change.org to sell Montana to Canada for $1 trillion to help pay down the national debt. The fact that the asking price would barely put a dent in a deficit that just eclipsed $22 trillion is beside the point. Instead, what has drawn national attention is the number of people who have signed on to the idea.
As of late last week, Ian Hammond’s call to “Sell Montana to Canada for $1 Trillion to eliminate the national debt” was approaching 15,000 signatures and climbing. His reasoning for choosing our state to shop to Canada was: “We have too much debt and Montana is useless. Just tell them it has beavers or something.”
And that’s all it took. People began signing. A lot of them. Then the Great Falls Tribune covered the petition, then Fox News, Newsweek and NPR. To be sure, this is a tongue-in-cheek nonbinding petition posted to raise awareness about our country’s growing debt that evolved into a viral joke. And scrolling through the comments on Change.org, it’s clear most of those who signed are in on it.
There are those who agree the sale is best for both sides for unusual reasons:
“Montana is cool and all, but we’re better as friends.”
“There are too many states that begin with an ‘M.’”
“I only knew Montana was a state because of Hannah Montana.”
There were those who want to renegotiate the terms of the sale:
“Montana is great, but who the hell said Canada wanted it? Take Quebec and maybe we will talk.”
“Will you throw in Maine as well? It would allow me to (get to) New Brunswick faster, without having to cross the border.”
“Can we sell Michigan too please and thanks.”
There were those who support the sale wholeheartedly:
“Born and raised Montanan. Definitely in favor of this!”
“Big Syrup Country, please.”
And those who don’t:
“I grew up in Montana. There is no way you can take away my home. My family, my history and my peace cannot be sold.”
And those who perhaps took the petition a little too seriously:
“Whoever started this, I suggest selling your own state because it obviously creates people who are low class.”
According to Hammond, he was surprised “that so many people have backed my cause,” which will never happen. Still, his petition has generated enough interest to generate discussion at the state capitol in Helena.
Last week, according to the Tribune, the House State Administration Committee overwhelmingly voted to have its staff draft a resolution opposing any sale of the state to Canada. The committee later ditched the lighthearted measure.
Hammond’s decision to use Montana as a bartering chip — beyond the “beavers” and erroneous claim of uselessness — is unclear. After all, Oregon’s state animal is a beaver. Why not sell it? And as for the usefulness, our state is home to a wealth of natural resources and some of the most pristine wild land in the country. Glacier National Park alone is priceless. Wouldn’t it make more sense to sell North Dakota?
For Gov. Steve Bullock’s part, he linked to a story about the petition on his Twitter account (this one by The Hill), and attached a comment: “Sure, what could go wrong?”