In 2006, a movement fueled by young people, Native Americans and the netroots swept through state and national Democratic politics and gave Jon Tester the surprise win over the candidate long assumed to be the “one.” Most party poobahs (with a few notable exceptions such as then-Party Chair Bob Ream) did not believe those young and Internet-savvy activists. Yet from on the ground, those actually working the Tester campaign felt the tide going to Jon as they knocked doors and made phone calls. Meanwhile, the powers-that-be were so sure of John Morrison’s ascendency, the national party establishment placed their staffers in jobs in Montana as Morrison for Senate general election campaign staff-in-waiting. Oops.
These same 2006 Tester believers now see the same in Rob Quist and again, no one believes them. Yes, it’s true that Greg Gianforte has had the massive advantage of million-dollar dumps by Republican and right-wing groups and Quist is just now getting some national funds I hope aren’t merely token. But there are also two major differences from 2006 to now, and in less than a month, we’ll know which force is greater.
One, on the plus side, is the awakening of women and men who are not going to let a Trump-type victory happen again. Not on city commissions, school boards, legislature or congress. They’ve marched by the thousands and showed up at airports to ask Sen. Daines questions. Yet they’re more than protestors. These activists make phone calls, write postcards, send money and talk to neighbors and friends about their support of Rob Quist. It’s a vital, organic movement hidden in plain sight, right there on the Internet and came out of the women’s march.
2nd, will the old-school corporate money persuade enough to go with Gianforte? Or will postcard writing, persuasion call making Montanans prevail? I’m sticking with the union of folks who have banded together to fight the rise of the right. As an old labor hymn says,
“In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,
Greater than the might of armies, multiplied a thousand-fold.
We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old
For the union makes us strong.”