(A 2012 Montana election primer for Democrats)
A while back I posted some talking points for Democrats. A few commenters asked for some elaboration. These points are very important for candidates and citizens alike, and I will reiterate them today.
It must first be understood that the GOP imbeciles in Montana (meaning most candidates, operatives, party leaders, heads of conservative groups, legislators and so on), have been in a state of perpetual anger and rage for the last six years or so. Why? Because they controlled Montana for 20 years, virtually ran it into the ground, and then have since been forced look on, helplessly, as Democrats took over the reins, went to work, and helped Montana make great strides.
Republicans cannot abide the fact that Dems have gotten the state in strong shape after decades of GOP neglect. Thus they have resorted to a rather sad strategy: they denigrate, deride and degrade (trash, in essence) the state of Montana, the Montana economy, and state government, even though we have one of the best economies and most efficient state governments in America.
1. Under Democrats, Montana has developed more energy (wind, coal, oil, gas) than at any time in history. (http://www.innovatemontana.
2. For the last several years Montana has been ranked consistently among the top ten states in America for our tax climate and our business climate. We are one of the best places in America to start a business, across the board. Just this week, we were rated 8th best in the nation. (http://helenair.com/news/local/state-and-regional/study-ranks-montana-eighth-in-business-tax-climate/article_ad5e20da-47ec-11e1-8152-0019bb2963f4.html)
3. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. This week, it went down again, to below 7%. (http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/c068f307265449a18d8af20db28f23d1/MT–Montana-Unemployment/)
4. This has not gone unnoticed by Montana voters, for when asked, 55% of them recently said in a survey that the state economy is on the right track as opposed to the wrong track. In only three other states in America did voters respond so positively to that question. In most states, voters think their state economy sucks. (http://www.publicsectorinc.
5. Finally, Montana was recently rated as the best fiscally managed state in America. Eighty-three percent of Montanans think that state government is managing taxpayer money wisely. No other state came even close. (http://mtcowgirl.com/2011/
6. And why shouldn’t they feel this way? Montana has a $400 million surplus. In fact, for the last five years Montana has had a record sized surplus. And only a handful of states have surpluses right now. Most are in financial crisis. And Dems have cut more taxes than Republicans ever did. (http://helenair.com/news/
7. Don’t just take my (liberal) word for it. Ask FoxNews or the Wall Street Journal, both of whom recently editorialized about the spectacular fiscal shape the state is in. For that matter, so did Denny Rehberg and Newt Gingrich. And so has every major newspaper in Montana.
8. The extra dough that Democrats have saved taxpayers has been (1) returned in the form of a rebate (the largst taxpayer rebate ever in Montana) and (2) spent on education, a historic investment in schools. (http://www.governor.mt.gov/boed/docs/GovernorsPresentationToBoardOfEducation_Jan_2008.pdf) see page 5
These are important points that, too often, are not internalized by Democratic candidates. But they are crucial. They are a dagger in the heart of Republicans. The message is very clear: In Montana, Democrats are a special breed, who are good with money, run government efficiently, and know how to create jobs and a strong business climate. It’s why Schweitzer has become one of the most popular Governors in America; it’s why Democrats won big in 2008; and it’s probably why Tester is leading Rehberg.
Why are these points, as opposed to other things that Democrats like to talk about, the ones that must be emphasized? Because they rebut the false story told by Republicans which is that Montana is strangling business with too much regulation, too many taxes, too much spending, etc.
This is what they are saying right now. Rick Hill, GOP candidate for Governor, was on the radio for a half hour the other day, and all he could do was trash Montana. The irony, of course, is the Rick Hill is a teat-sucker of major proportions. He sucked large at the government teat, earning almost a million bucks in taxpayer dollars as a landlord who rented property to the government. All while his wife was working in the governor’s office. And he’s complaining about “too much spending”?
Aside from being ineffective politically (because the polls show us that voters side with Democrats and like what they are seeing out of state government), it’s very unpatriotic and a truly awful dereliction of one’s civic duty, to throw your state under the bus, tell lies about it, in order to win an election. Democrats like Schweitzer try to recruit businesses and market the state’s assets, and the GOP undercuts the whole effort by telling the whole world how bad Montana is for business, when nothing could be further from the truth.
Finally, I got an interesting comment from a blogger who said that these talking points I’ve provided for Dems “sound like Republican talking points.” Trust me, there is nothing Republican about balancing the government checkbook and running a surplus, or using government in an active way to attract business to the state. Republicans know how to create deficits, cut taxes while fighting trillion dollar wars, and promote Federal Identification cards, and fight for Spear Hunting rights. What Montana needs is strong management of an effective state government, and Dems have provided it. Adopting the Gold Standard is not a credible economic policy. Again, the facts are in: Democrats know how to manage money; republicans do not.
And remember, there is a reason you hear the GOP gubernatorial candidates talk so much about Obama. It’s because they need to present voters with a Democratic boogeyman, and they can’t find one in in Montana.
The good news is, Democratic candidates are now on the offense talking about jobs, as you can see from the articles below. Armed with the facts, we can all help them win.