TESTER TIME-- A MAN WHO CAN MAKE BIG SKY COUNTRY PROUD IN THE U.S. SENATE
John Rodwick is a Down With Tyranny reader up in Montana. The first time we corresponded he seemed somewhat dejected and even cynical about the state of politics. Who could blame him? But I recommended that he go meet Jon Tester and get involved with his Senate campaign against the corrupt wing-nut Conrad Burns. I had read a lot about what an amazing candidate Tester is and I figured it would cheer John up about what could be done with politics. Besides, Pearl Jam had recently played a benefit for Jon's campaign and if someone as intuitively skeptical as Eddie Vedder could be convinced, anyone could be. Jon's sprawling legislative district-- 17,000 square miles (bigger than 9 entire states!) is extremely Republican-- but he won there and he can win everywhere in Montana. The notes I've been getting from John since then have been considerably more upbeat and a couple nights ago he wrote up a story about his meeting with the next Senator from the state of Montana.
May 24, 2006
I went to meet Jon Tester last night and found him to be an intelligent, straight shooting guy. He made great eye contact when I was speaking with him individually. When I asked him pointed questions about the war, economy, privacy issues and social programs, he didn't hesitate, flinch or have to think about how he felt. Regarding Iraq he said we need to develop an exit plan and get out or we are not ever going to be able to leave because you can't fight terror in the old war conventional manner. We have to lead by example and show compassion and that will be the way that others begin to see our country in a more positive light. We won't be able to beat them into submission.
He feels that the qualities he has demonstrated in the Montana Senate: hard work, the ability to listen and the ability to read (this got a big laugh because we all know Burns can't read) are what will serve him well in the U.S. Senate. He knows that Burns can be beaten and that he is the man to do it. Morrison has too much ethical baggage that will not stand up against Burns whereas he challenges anybody to question his ethics be it family, work on the farm or his record in the Montana legislature. An interesting statistic here is that Burns has a war chest of 10 million bucks. Only 17% of that money is from inside Montana! Tester's money is 67% from Montana. Conrad is supported by big business, pharmaceutical and oil money. Tester's money is largely middle class money.
Conrad is not a conservative. He spends money like it is going out of style- political pork runs rampant for the man. He said his own (Tester's) brother is a conservative and he hates Burns.
Tester said that he will be in the Senate to effect change and that an effective change agent leads by example and isn't afraid to speak their mind. We can't change the direction in this country unless we are willing to elect people who will effect change.
Tester has run his farm organically for 20 years. He supports wind energy development, particularly for eastern Montana and sees energy independence as a viable alternative- he helped move Montana from 50th to 15th in wind energy. He supports a tax policy that will help middle class people stay middle and not have their position eroded. He would like to see the Patriot Act repealed.
I liked the guy a lot. He seemed to be the genuine article and showed no fear about speaking his mind when he was asked some tough questions where he could have hedged on his opinion so as not to alienate anyone like Max Baucus, who obviously has seniority, but is not an effective change agent. He described himself as a progressive Democrat.
Hell, it's been 30 some years since I attended anything political but I was really impressed with his style, straightforwardness and his ability to express his thoughts spontaneously. I donated twice, once after I had asked him some questions privately and again after he spoke to the crowd.
I think if he can beat Morrison in the primary he will beat Conrad in the general. But that's a big "if." Morrison has big name recognition and this state is so damn conservative. If it's Morrison and Burns in November I'm afraid that Burns will win again and that will be so sad. Burns is a joke. He's stupid, only interested in feathering his own nest and arrogant as well. But mostly stupid.
Someone was telling me a couple days ago that they were on vacation in Hawaii and were talking with some congressperson over there who said that Burns is the laughing-stock of the senate. Mike Mansfield must be rolling over in his grave.
My overall gut impressions: nice smile, sense of humor, honest, caring, intelligent, great verbal skills and committed to making a difference and being a change agent. It's always nice to meet someone you agree with too-- especially here in northwest MT, which is pretty damn close to Hayden Lake sometimes. The best part of the gathering was being in a room with a hundred other people who have similar values. When Tester made a point about the war, economy, privacy rights, alternative energy, etc, the crowd applauded. That felt good to me.
A little bit of money goes a very long way in Montana political campaigns and all the Big Business money is going to Morrison because of his DLC orientation and to Burns because he's the #1 biggest lobbyist whore in the entire U.S. Senate. So... I just opened an ACT BLUE Page for Jon. You wanna help out?