Montana Viewpoint: Acting like a nation
I am reading a history of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin and their role together in the creation of America. It depresses me greatly. It depresses me because of the stark contrast with the caliber of people we now elect to office.
The Senate recently created a bi-partisan bill to address the border issue. It was spearheaded by one of its most conservative members, James Lankford of Oklahoma. It addressed issues of great concern to Republicans and did not address issues of great concern to Democrats, like a path to citizenship for longtime resident aliens—the “dreamers”. Nonetheless, it had substantial Democratic support. It was ripe for passage; our immigration policy has not been addressed in forty years.
But then, former President Trump said he didn’t like it, and like buckshot on a tilting table those Republicans who had supported it rolled to the opposition side, and its chances for passage are slim.
That is spineless. It is cowardly, and it is servile. These people are not concerned about America, they are concerned about the prospects for their political futures if they incur the wrath of the MAGA movement. They are not worthy of their titles or of our—or anyone’s—trust.
We are electing people to office today whose intent is to NOT govern, only to tear down what Washington and Franklin carefully and lovingly put together for us. Anybody can destroy—anybody, it’s easy. It’s child’s play and by golly we have the elected children who can do it. And they are playing into the hands of our enemies by making us look weak and fractious.
They are Putin’s playmates: Two years ago, Matt Rosendale was the sole vote against sending aid to Ukraine, Matt Gaetz brought down the Speakership of Kevin McCarthy and held the Congress and our Nation helpless and vulnerable for three weeks while they played at electing a new Speaker. But at least those guys I understand. They are just petulant little kids who want nothing more than attention and know the fastest way to get it, no matter who it hurts.
The guys I don’t understand and who have earned my anger and disrespect are those who cannot stand up to power because they fear for their political future. They should fear for their souls which they gladly sell for a bowl of political pottage.
Then, to help fuel the fire, Governor Gianforte goes to the Southern Border to join 17 Republican Governors to help Texas Governor Abbott thumb his nose at the Supreme Court. Maybe he went on his own dime, maybe he went on ours, but the point is that he went at all, representing the state of Montana. Their goal is to keep the entire border issue alive as political fuel for the coming election.
Complain about inaction as you wish, but the point is that these politicians want someone to blame, which is a clever move, because the blame lies with themselves. They demanded a border solution, they got a solution of basically everything that they had asked for. They supported it, but then, suddenly, they didn’t want the solution, they wanted to keep the problem.
I believe that it matters that America is respected around the world and the antics and games being played in Congress don’t help our standing at all. Is it important that Rosendale thumbs his nose at Ukraine, giving Putin a big smile? Yes. Is it important that Gaetz strokes his importance by making the world laugh at us? Yes.
Congress is not a playground. It is a solemn and unique institution created by Americans to command respect from the leaders of other nations. The juveniles holding office need to know that, even if they can’t understand it.
Washington and Franklin committed their lives to create and nurture a nation that they believed in, not just for themselves, but for their fellow citizens and the world. They risked being hanged for treason to give Americans a place of freedom. In 1785 Washington wrote to James Madison:
“We are either a United people, or we are not. If the former, let us, in all matters of general concern act as a nation, which have national objects to promote, and a national character to support. If we are not, let us no longer act a farce by pretending to it.”
Let us then act like the great nation we are.
Montana Viewpoint has appeared in weekly and online newspapers across Montana for over 25 years. Jim Elliott served sixteen years in the Montana Legislature as a state representative and state senator. He lives on his ranch in Trout Creek.