Uncommon Ground

Freedom from Political Dogma

If initiative signers join the majority of Montanans on Election Day, it’ll be a good day for privacy, democracy, and freedom-loving locals

By Mike Jopek

Thunder boomed in the sky. No real stark cracking sounds like when air rapidly expands around lightning. The reverberations rumbled, then rolled far overhead, growling like a loaded freight train barreling over open land. Rain fell hard onto earth.

I worked the hoophouse, readying soil for another crop. I’d seed arugula again, knowing it didn’t like summer heat. It’s probably too late to plant a cold hardy crop until fall, yet I needed something fast-growing. I gambled on the nutty green.

A torrent of water gushed down the skin on the hoophouse. Outside, potatoes and garlic would grow plenty with this amount of rainwater, I thought. Sheets of rain continued as I cut through weeds with the stirrup hoe, the blades I’d earlier sharpened with an angle grinder.

The rain eased as sun brightened air. Seems showers often arrive before Independence Day. Keeps forest fires down, I mocked myself as if anyone cared in today’s politics. Flathead blows up plenty of fireworks celebrating our freedoms and independence from tyranny.

Over and over, voters try to get the same message to state lawmakers that locals favor our freedoms, especially when it comes to healthcare and when or if we choose to become parents.

Montana Republicans, led by Gov. Greg Gianforte and U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, aren’t listening to voters when it comes to women’s reproductive rights. Over the past few years, the millionaires from Bozeman consistently supported and signed laws repealing women’s rights, even as state courts favor privacy, repeatedly finding Republican’s bans unconstitutional.

A whopping 117,000 Montana citizens pushed forward a constitutional initiative keeping abortion legal, with one out of every seven registered voters signing the petition. If initiative signers join the majority of Montanans on Election Day, it’ll be a good day for privacy, democracy, and freedom-loving locals.

Polls consistently indicate that Montanans remain pro-choice. Locals are overwhelmingly pro-freedom, enjoy our privacy, and value being left alone from government intrusion.

That Gianforte and Daines keep pushing their personal beliefs and religion onto the rest of rural Montana is puzzling and troubling. Voters will have plenty to say come November. Maybe politicians listen. I kind of doubt it.

The Republican crusade continues with Rep. Matt Rosendale vying to outlaw in vitro fertilization pregnancies, Rep. Ryan Zinke voting for multiple abortion bans, while Daines stops Senate bills guaranteeing family rights to access contraception, deciding for ourselves when to become parents.

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe and women’s right to choose whether to have children, Justice Clarence Thomas went farther and wrote a concurring opinion suggesting the biggest court of the land also reconsider previous opinions that prohibit bans on contraceptives and same-sex marriage.

That same Court now decreed that Presidents are kings, immune from the law. That should concern every Montanan. Those same Justices at their Senate confirmation hearings said that no President is above the law. But hey, who cares, right? Oh, boy.

Today’s fickle weather said the Fourth would be a bluebird day. Hope it holds. Early week’s rain was pleasant. The thirsty ground drank the large downpours quickly. These days it seems like the planet is burning hotter and faster with each pending wildfire, alarming farmers like us who suddenly find plenty of anxiety in the upcoming dry months of these new Western summers.

The beef dogs and burgers are headed to the barbeque, the celebration to include beans and greens. Family and friends will gather like we’ve done many years prior. Montanans enjoy our independence, liberties, and freedoms.

Above the lodgepoles and larches, up toward Big Mountain, we’ll see the fireworks show which locals celebrated for the past hundred years in Whitefish.

Independence Day is past for this year, and you, like the rest of us, are undoubtedly back at work to pay the never-ending and ever-increase bills. Montanan’s freedom-loving values live on, undaunted, called to action by nonstop political dogma.