Our ‘Montana moment’

Perspective on polarized politics in the West.

 

In May, Republican Greg Gianforte, a candidate out of Bozeman, Montana, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He managed this despite having the night before body-slammed a journalist and punched him hard enough to smash his glasses. Gianforte is a millionaire whose Twitter feed includes posts about elk burgers and huckleberry pie, as well as a pastoral ad campaign for the state that implores folks to find their own “Montana moment.” This assault, I guess, was his. But this moment of folly belongs to all of us.

Gianforte works hard to exude a romantic, mythic West, a cowboy of purple mountains and majesty. He also happens to be a man of no apparent self-restraint. More importantly, regardless of his political affiliation, he represents the caricature of an ideal Westerner, a rugged man, thoroughly capable of handling his business. One voter said the alleged beating showed that Gianforte was not “scared to jump in and fight somebody in Washington.” That Gianforte’s persona ruse worked is a sad comment on the way things are going and how simplified our politics have become.

In this issue, we take a subtler approach to Western politics. Reporter Leah Todd got to know the voters of Walsenburg, Colorado, trying to understand why Huerfano County swung from blue to red in the last election. The county has long been Democratic, with roots in coal production and unions. But coal is long gone, and the town now has an influx of retirees. People there want to see improvement in the local economy, and the Republicans in town were willing to mobilize for the sake of it. Voters in Walsenburg pray, fear God, and did not trust Hillary Clinton’s connections to Wall Street. They trusted Donald Trump.

The people of Walsenburg, in other words, have lost faith in professional politicians. And who can blame them? Our congressional representatives are the people we have entrusted to run one of the most powerful nations on Earth, to write the legislation of a nation of laws. Little of that is actually getting done. Instead, our representatives spend most of their time either undermining one another, or running around looking for special interest money to keep them in office.

calvertbrian-color-jpg
Editor-in-chief, Brian Calvert
Brooke Warren

Our nation is falling apart, literally and figuratively, yet Congress has proven incapable of fixing even itself. We have too many lawmakers, on both sides, who are unworthy of our votes; yet they are clever enough to stay in office, regardless. What Walsenburg teaches us, I think, is that we as citizens have a lot of work to do. We would do well to sit down and listen to each other, with a sympathetic ear, perhaps over a huckleberry pie. I’d even do so with the new congressman from Montana, if he promised to keep his hands to himself. 

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • Southwest Borderlands Initiative Professor of Native Americans and the News Media The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University is...
  • AWF seeks an energetic Marketing and Communications Director. Please see the full job description at https://azwildlife.org/jobs
  • The Southwest Communications Director will be responsible for working with field staff in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico to develop and execute detailed communication plans...
  • An intentional community designed for aging in place. Green built with Pumice-crete construction (R32), bamboo flooring, pine doors, T&G ceiling with fans, and maintenance free...
  • (CFROG) is a Ventura County, CA based watch-dog and advocacy non-profit organization. cfrog.org
  • Take your journalism skills to the next level and deepen your understanding of environmental issues by applying for the 2019-2020 Ted Scripps Fellowships in Environmental...
  • WINTER WILDLANDS ALLIANCE POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT: EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Winter Wildlands Alliance seeks an experienced and highly motivated individual to lead and manage the organization as Executive...
  • The San Juan Mountains Association is seeking a visionary leader to spearhead its public lands stewardship program in southwest Colorado. For a detailed job description...
  • The Cascade Forest Conservancy seeks a passionate ED to lead our forest protection, conservation, education, and advocacy programs.
  • Mountain Pursuit is a new, bold, innovative, western states, hunting advocacy nonprofit headquartered in Jackson, Wyoming. We need a courageous, hard working, passionate Executive Director...
  • The Draper Natural History Museum (DNHM) at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center of the West in Cody, WY, invites applications for the Willis McDonald, IV...
  • Couple seeks quiet, private, off-grid acreage in area with no/low cell phone service and no/low snowfall. Conservation/bordering public lands a plus. CA, OR, WA, ID,...
  • 20mi N of Steamboat Springs, majestic views, aspen forest, year-round access, yurt, septic, solar electric, seasonal ponds, no covenants, bordering National Forest. Ag status. $449K....
  • Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring for two positions: Communications & Development Manager/Director (remote work possible) and a Deputy Director...
  • Former northern Sierra winery, with 2208 sq.ft. commercial building, big lot, room to expand.
  • The dZi Foundation is seeking a FT Communications Associate with a passion for Nepal to join our team in Ridgway, Colorado. Visit dzi.org/careers.
  • Available now for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojaidigital.net.
  • Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • 1400 sf of habitable space in a custom-designed eco-home created and completed by a published L.A. architect in 1997-99. Nestled within its own 80-acre mountain...
  • Suitable for planting hay, hemp, fruit. Excellent water rights. 1800 square foot farmhouse, outbuildings, worker housing.