[This is a guest post from the second of a series of pieces submitted by the U.S. Senate candidates. Still to come, a guest post by John Walsh. The Cowgirl Blog welcomes editorial submissions from candidates in other races and from guest writers, and any other content readers might enjoy. In addition, I'm considering a new policy. Subject to my discretion I will post Republican/conservative opinion pieces as well.]
I am running in the Democrat primary for the Montana U.S. Senate seat because facing and overcoming the current challenges to our nation’s progress on improving the lives of our citizens calls for boldness, courage, and new approaches. I have a rare background that I think makes me the right person at the right time to go to work for Montana and our nation. I know ranching and agriculture, and I know finance. As a Harvard-trained attorney, I know the law. I understand education and technology. My values are Democratic ones, and frankly, I think, American ones, and they include social and economic justice and the desire for a functional, uncorrupted political and governmental system.
Wrongs done to our citizens and wrong-headed policies drove me into the political arena.
For example, the consequences of the banking crisis are still with us and there has been no course correction in regards to the general policies and practices that got us there. My community bank was one of 1000 community banks that paid the consequences while big banks got bailed out by you and then they went on to consolidate their power even more. Before the recession, no one bank controlled even 5% of the total mortgage market, which is the largest market in the world, Now five banks control almost 80% of the market. In addition, these megabanks also own entire chains of production, including natural resources, warehouses, and ports. They now even control the Federal Reserve monetary policy process.
I want to strengthen community banks, which are closer and more accountable to the people they serve. I’m the one who can lead on this issue. What is best for Montanans and the American people? A Republican that’s going to do what the big banks tell them to? A Democrat who isn’t going to understand as well as banks the loopholes and sleight of hand that might be embedded in a piece of legislation, as we saw with The Financial Modernization Act in which a small provision, five words, allowed for the kind of monopolies mentioned above?
Or, would citizens be better served by me, a Democrat with Democratic values who understands banking and finance from the inside and can hack their legislation for slippery provisions that allow them to do whatever they want, crash our economy, and force us to bail them out even as citizens themselves are financially drowning. Our problems with the banking system aren’t over. We need people in D.C. who know how to fight and can’t be fooled.
I’m also troubled by the prison-industrial complex. Our criminal justice system will be inherently corrupt until we can end the poison to justice that is for-profit prisons. If there’s profit in locking up American citizens, there will be those working the halls of Washington to do just that. It’s a violation of the character of America that we locked up a greater percentage of our citizens than any other country, followed, not even closely, by China and Russia in the #2 and #3 positions. The for-profit criminal justice system is a tool of racism and corporate interests. No one went to prison for crashing our economy, or for the BP oil spills, while a young man or woman goes to jail for a joint in his or her pocket. There’s a lot wrong with that.
I’m also troubled by the persistent, unrelenting squeeze on the middle class. Their economic power is continually eroded, and given recent decisions by our Supreme Court, as the middle class has fewer resources and as money in politics is granted more power, the selling of our system of governance to the highest has bidder has been sanctioned lock, stock, and barrel.
Money controls our government. The people have less and less money as wealth consolidates in the 1%. We are caught in a self-reinforcing loop, money buying influence that gives the monied more money to buy more influence. It is no understatement to say, this self-reinforcing loop is destroying everything our county stands for and must be broken.
The problem of big money in politics isn’t exclusive to one political party or the other, as evidenced by the coffers of both Republican Steve Daines and Democrat John Walsh. Given those two choices, big money wins, which is why the people of Montana need other choices and a reason I’m in the race.
And, as I’ve said often, I’m troubled about climate change and the environment. Good luck to those who think they can turn back the consequences of climate change with rhetoric. It’s not coming. It’s here. Our own Governor in Montana has stated that Montana is already strategizing about how to deal with the here and now consequences of it, even if asserting in the next breath the importance of industries that contribute to the crisis.
When it comes to the environment, we are at the point where it is no longer about politics but the ability to accept a reality that is here whether we accept it or not. We need to mitigate climate change without playing politics and we need to acknowledge that ecosystems don’t fit tidily into artificially drawn state boundaries, which is why I support and will introduce Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act should I be elected.
Lastly, but critically, more than half of our population, women, is paid unfairly, subjected to routine violence, and treated like a subclass over whom the state asserts the right to exert control over private bodily decisions. Jimmy Carter has recently called violence against women the greatest human rights violation on the planet. Where there is progress in gender equality, it is insultingly slow. But worse, our society and our rhetoric has been slipping backward. Whether one believes that slip is one step backward or twenty, it is dangerous. It’s not impossible to move backwards on human rights. This trend must be stopped. Rhetoric proceeds reality, so current nonsense about “legitimate” rape and the disgraceful vote this month in the Senate against pay equity is not to be taken lightly.
We talk about women’s “issues.” But the issue, the problem, is the unfair, unequal treatment of women and men in the culture.
I was born white, straight, and male and I know that in our society that gave me advantages. But from there, I had to do things myself and work my way towards the things I wanted and valued. Nobody groomed me or held doors for me. And that’s okay. Taking the journey is the way a person learns. It’s no difference with this Senate race. I will work on behalf of an increasing pressure from those who have supported the Democratic Party historically. We want to win, but it’s the values of the Democratic Party that we want to see prevail, not just individuals with “D’s” after their names.
My life has not been one of “holding positions.” It’s been one of doing things, fighting for things, and building things. I love this country and I love Montana. Living in Montana has been the most powerful formative force in my life. There are some wonderful Democratic leaders here in Montana, women in particular, who did not step forward to run for this seat, and this seat is too important to surrender to either a business-as-usual Democrat (who can’t beat Daines) or the Republicans. I hope Montanans will put their faith in me as their best bet for turning back the corrupted path too many of our systems have fallen subject to and forwarding the values of good people wanting the basics of honest work, honest pay, a healthy environment, and a just system of governance.
Dirk S. Adams of Wilsall is an attorney and rancher. He is a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.