But a legislator’s duty extends far beyond good governance. Our Founding Fathers provided us a framework for governing ourselves while avoiding the natural tendency of human societies to evolve toward centralized authoritarianism—or worse. State legislators play a major role in the preservation of the principles embodied in the constitutions of the United States and the state of Montana.
Attending to this duty is of the utmost importance in today’s hyper-partisan political environment. People are becoming increasingly anxious and angry. History shows that conditions like those that we face today are exceptionally dangerous. To appreciate this, one need only recall the situations in late 18th century Paris, Moscow at the advent of the 20th century, or Rome and Berlin in the 1930s. None of these ended well.
Extremists at both ends of the political spectrum threaten the social cohesion necessary for our constitutional system to function. Those on the far Left have explicitly rejected our constitutional heritage and would divide us along racial lines within some sort of socialist utopia.
This stance has predictably generated opposition not only from conservatives like me but also from those inhabiting the far-Right. But many of these “patriots” are agitating for a second American revolution—a civil war. They have given up on America. I refuse to join them.
As a legislator, I have sworn an oath to “support, protect and defend the constitution of the United States, and the constitution of the state of Montana.” This duty places me at odds with both the far Left and the far-Right. It also has required me to occasionally take stands against my own party when it proposes legislation that I reason to be constitutionally dubious.
But I believe that we can preserve our freedom and our constitutional form of government without tearing our country apart. I also think that most Montanans share this belief. But there are no shortcuts—only persistent, sometimes tedious, effort working within the framework the Founders bequeathed us.
As delegates left the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of government do we have? "A Republic," he replied, "if you can keep it."
Let’s get to work.
I am a Republican who holds traditional conservative values, as can be verified by examining my record of service, both on my hometown’s school board and in the Montana legislature. I have supported or had drafted—and passed into law—legislation that is focused on ensuring that government actions are necessary, limited, effective, and fiscally prudent.