Exploitation runs deep in Montana’s history. In the early days of the Treasure State, mining moguls duked it out for control of real estate and power. They extracted what copper they could from the earth leaving behind poisoned land and bodies piled high. As prospectors discovered gold deposits, more boomtowns sprung up across the state. The early arrivals to these lodes did all they could to control their new-found wealth and flexed their bankrolls as they established influence in the burgeoning communities. The selection of the state capital served as a referendum on gold versus copper.
In 1890, copper mining mogul William A. Clark failed to secure a Senate Seat. Nine years later he launched a successful senate bid and presented his credentials on December 4, 1899. The same day his opponents made it known that Clark had secured his position through bribery which launched an investigation. By April of the next year, the investigation concluded and unanimously declared that Clark obtained his appointment through nefarious, undemocratic means. He resigned his seat before his formal removal only to once again obtain it after providing financial support to the overwhelming majority of a newly elected Montana Legislature.
If you believe that story reeks of corruption and goes against the ideals laid out by our forefathers than you likely find yourself in the majority. If you think the idea of having more money than others should allow you to spend freely in order to obtain the title covet above all else you are probably Greg Gianforte.
Instead of gold or copper, Gianforte’s fortune comes from silicon. His successful run in the tech industry allotted him a personal fortune and rather than retire and travel the world he instead decided that he should run Montana.
Disregarding that his company would not have turned profits or earned the valuation it did without the 1,000 plus individuals he employed, Gianforte has been pursuing his dream job in vain since 2016 under the premise that he’s a self-made billionaire and therefore the government should function as he believes it should.
Even though he was unsuccessful in his first bid for Governor, Montanans ultimately gave him a title and sent him away to Washington, D.C. by electing him to the at large Congressional seat. But that was never what he wanted. He wants Montana. He wants Big Sky Country as his fiefdom.
While his primary opponents engage in public debates, allow voters to hear their policy positions, Greg Gianforte opts not to participate. He sits out any public event that could lead to him having to utter anything other than the three canned answers tucked away in his brain. His bank account allows him to take this approach to campaigning. Rather than share his ideas in front of voters he can simply pay money to pollute the airwaves with his name.
On top of all this Gianforte has proposed a “unity pledge” for the GOP. He has the gall to ask his opponents for their unwavering support after sitting out the primary save for his vast spending. After he spent the primary dodging them how can his opponents even know if Gianforte shares their same vision for Montana?
The upside to all of this lies in the fact we’ve rejected people like Gianforte throughout our state’s history. Montanans’ fierce independent streak allows them to recognize the absurdity of the idea that those with more money should have the final say in the governance of our state. We have repeatedly spurned this idea throughout our history and will continue to whenever someone like Gianforte appears on the ballot. Workers drive political action in this state. In 2018, when Donald Trump rallied against Jon Tester hoping to get another yes-man in the Senate, Union members turned out to keep Tester as a voice for working people in Washington.
In 2020 we will turn out again to remind Greg Gianforte that the Governor’s Mansion can not be bought.