by Jael Kampfe
4th Generation Montanan, retired rancher, Believer in Kindness
I remember growing up.
My grandfather, Bill Mackay Sr.’s Eisenhower Republican values wove around the dinner table connecting us like matching china. Value local people and local control. Serve. Reach across the aisle. The best legislation requires compromise. Be kind. Your words matter.
I remember 1993.
Neo-nazis targeted minorities and homosexuals with hate crimes in Billings. Most visibly attacked were prominent members of the Jewish Community. Business owners took out ads in the paper in support of our precious community. Residents hung Stars of David in people’s windows. With courage and clarity, their message was clear, “not in out town.”
I remember 2008.
During a Luther school track meet, a young woman with different disabilities announced that she was going to win ribbons. Many ribbons. But Sabrina didn’t win a ribbon. She didn’t even come close and her heart broke. Later, an eighth grade girl held back her pace, encouraging Sabrina and soon the other runners joined and that day, Sabrina won a ribbon. There could have been ridicule and bullying but instead, the students came together and said, “Not in our town.”
I remember 2014.
A Billings federal judge gave a lax sentence to a rapist after blaming the 14 year-old victim because she was “older than her age.” Again we gathered in kindness at a candlelight vigil. The national outrage led to the Montana Supreme Court overturning the verdict to provide a steeper sentence. As Montanans we said, “Not in our town.”
It is now 2016.
One presidential candidate represents sentiments embraced by neo-nazis, mocks people with disabilities, and brags about sexual assault. I keep waiting for Montana to shout, “Not in our town.” If his words were said by a student at Red Lodge High, the student would have to be reported according to Montana law and Title IV. We cannot tolerate this behavior from a national leader.
Greg Gianforte and Representative Zinke continue to endorse and stand by this presidential candidate.
Where is “not in our town” now?
I believe in the Republican platform of small government and local control. I grew up with those values. However, those tenets can’t be pursued without compassion. As citizens, we must stand up to extremism, to violence against women, and to the basic spread of hatred. We need leaders who model kindness even more strongly.
Denise Juneau works in a bi-partisan manner. She represents all our students, not one party or the others. She understands that policy requires moderation and one can’t work in extremes.
Steve Bullock reaches across the aisle to create collective results, helping Montana rank #1 in business start-ups and #1 in fiscal prudence. He supports women’s right for equal pay and represents honest, every day Montana values.
Up and down the ballot, we have two choices. And one of them will win. At another time, I might consider supporting Republican candidates. But for now, I stand with “Not in our town” and those leaders whose words and actions reflect this Montana value.