Reality Check

Saviors or Defective Candidates?

Defective candidates for political office need to be saviors to win political races

By Tammi Fisher

Our state unemployment rate is back to where it was pre-COVID 19. Yet demand for employees remains high; several small businesses in the valley are closed due to a lack of employees. Despite rising wages far above minimum wage, employers are still unable to recruit employees. The idea that folks don’t want to work is far-fetched; if folks wanted to lounge around on unemployment, our unemployment rate would be high, not low. It is more likely that non-entry level businesses have expanded, pulling the former-entry level employees to their ranks, leaving our traditional entry-level positions empty. This creates a low supply and high demand problem that is the bane of every political campaign’s existence.  

Defective candidates for political office need to be saviors to win political races. “More jobs” is the usual battle cry. Indeed, many Montanans were able to overlook our governor’s deficiencies because of his “job creator” background as a start-up business owner. Oddly, the governor continues to hail job creation as his primary goal even though job creation isn’t a problem in Montana today, and perhaps not for the foreseeable future. The governor has added multiple state business recruitment positions to recruit new employers from every area of the country outside of Montana. What for? Montana’s small businesses are closing up and dying for lack of available employees — is it really in Montana’s best interest to add more employers when Montana employers can’t fill the job openings they have now?

Plowing forward on a “job creator” platform despite lacking a need for job creation reflects the pickle state politicians have found themselves in. Few statewide issues are compelling enough for voters to overlook the character deficiencies in state candidates for office without a need for more jobs. “Lower taxes” is always a ringer, but in comparison to other states, our income taxes are pretty low. Property tax is set mainly by local government and schools, so the state can’t do much there. Affordable housing is a function of the free market, coupled with local government regulation. 

As the significant issues in Montana are primarily controlled by local government, expect flawed candidates to make promises of more control over local government and school districts, similar to the recent attack on the judiciary by our state Legislature. They aren’t smart enough to be targeted or concerned about harming other conservative office holders, painting all local government officials as defective to elevate their “savior” status. Their efforts will usher in more unqualified elected officials guided by authoritarian principles, and cause an exodus of good conservative officeholders. If successful, Montana will find itself precisely where the current Montana GOP intends us to be, and jobs, taxes and housing will be the least of our concerns. 

Tammi Fisher is an attorney and former mayor of Kalispell.

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