Congressional candidates do little to excite electorate

Brad Molnar
An Opinion

Our top-tier candidates are not helping infuse excitement in their campaigns. Gainforte is not out meeting people and changing the minds that rejected him in his race for Governor just a few months ago. Rather, he is bunkered behind his communications person to the point he will not directly answer emails sent to his personal email. For his part, Quist is championing the same positions that kept Hillary Clinton from receiving even the base of Democratic voters. Apparently he figures Hillary Clinton was not liberal enough or loud enough. Quist even withdrew from negotiations with Montana Public Broadcast Systems for a statewide debate broadcast in front of his natural constituency. While both accuse the other of not being willing to meet the public they want to represent, the fact is that both, in their own ways, are avoiding unfiltered public contact.
Gianforte’s main themes seem to be that he will protect public lands, support term limits for congressmen, withhold pay if congress does not balance the budget, and “draining the swamp,” by banning congressmen from becoming lobbyists.
The bill introduced this year to give federal land to the states got one co-sponsor and fizzled. On Jan. 27, Donald Trump signed an Executive Order banning Congresspersons from becoming lobbyists. The Supreme Court ruled a long time ago that term limits on congresspersons are unconstitutional. It is plainly so, and none have challenged this. Montanans passed a term limitation for congress persons but cannot enforce it. This is common knowledge. The 27th amendment to the same Constitution does not allow a sitting congress to change their own pay schedule. Sen. Steve Daines (R) has been promising the same “no balanced budget-no pay” for years and still uses it for fund raising. The same constitutional provision stops him from doing so his bills to keep his campaign promise places the pay in escrow until congress adjourns at the end of the year. His most recent bill to “escrow” their pay got one co-sponsor and fizzled. Turns out congressmen do not want to have their pay withheld based on Daines approval of their votes. Perhaps Gianforte will be more persuasive. Ha!
Basically Gianforte is promising to do what can’t be done and has already been accomplished. An easy work load even for the three day congressional work week followed by summer and spring breaks.
Quist also promises to protect our public lands. He also pledges to defend Social Security but he never mentions that soon SS receipts will not cover expenses and explain what he will do about it. He just uses twenty-second sound bites to proclaim he is against “privatization” of our retirement funds without saying what that, or his solution, is. Quist is just parroting Max Baucus’s old lines on this subject and, like Max, ignoring a known hazard and kicking the can down the road. It worked for Max, how bad can it be? Quist also uses 20 seconds to say he will “represent Montana farmers and ranchers, not Wall Street Bankers.” What Montana farmer or Rancher does not realize that a fair, balanced, and healthy banking system is necessary to provide credit when required? Quist’s disappointment with the outcomes of his approved loans is not a federal issue. As a congressman Quist cannot chose the bills he will vote on. The rest of his shtick is the same old class warfare that is the hallmark of Democrat campaigns over the ages. Class warfare hasn’t worked for ages.
Mark Wicks is running as a Libertarian and is as abandoned by his own party as Quist and Gianforte. He has promised to impeach Federal judges that violate their oath of office, never vote for a budget that spends Social Security taxes on anything but Social Security, and ban drug companies from selling drugs cheaper outside the US than inside the US. Oh, and to protect public access to public lands.
He is rarely queried by corporate media and was not allowed on the stage at the only debate of this season. Too bad, he might liven things up and give people a reason to get off the couch and vote even if it is their bowling night.
Part of the reason for the apathy is that across the board the electorate has rejected traditional candidates and traditional campaign tactics yet that is all that is offered by professional Republican managers and professional Democrat managers. The “say nothing emphatically while smiling at café patrons,” model does not serve democracy well. Demonizing opponents to avoid discussing real problems is time-honored but only of value to ad salesmen.

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