What Happened to Jon Tester?

This is a subject that saddens me.

Our American political system has deteriorated into such a polarized, intransigent mess that the only way legislation can be passed is when one party holds the house, the senate, and the presidency.

Now, I’m not saying that every issue should be negotiated, and the parties should always meet in the middle.  In any debate, one side usually is right, and the other is wrong.  If there is gray area the question at hand may be too broad, and should be refined until there is an obvious correct answer, or at least one that a thoughtful, bipartisan majority can agree upon.

In the US Capitol today independent thought, or at least the expression of it, is frowned upon – especially in the Democrat party, as evidenced by their fairly consistent party-line votes for the last many years, and the robotic talking points they recite.

It’s all about the money.  Congressmen are no longer citizen legislators.  Because of the enormous cost of getting elected, candidates must sell their souls to their parties and to their financial backers to even enter a race.  Once elected, they are part of the big money machine.  The federal government has become so huge (and in some cases corrupt) that top-down control is rigidly enforced.  A rebel in the ranks must be quickly brought into line or summarily dispatched.

Even if a legislator starts out well-intentioned, he or she soon finds out that failure to follow instructions is fatal; conversely, going with the party flow can be very rewarding for both careers and pocketbooks.  Isn’t it amazing how legislators become wealthy “one-percenters” so quickly on a civil servant’s salary?  And, once elected, staying in office is pretty easy with access to the big money and the political machine.

A case in point – I was one of Jon Tester’s high school teachers, and he impressed me.  I found him to be an outstanding young man in every way – honest, motivated, sincere, intelligent.  I expected great things from him.  On my return home to Montana after 25 years away, I was not surprised to learn that that he was a state legislator.  A Democrat?  Well, that was something of a surprise.

Senator Jon Tester – (D-Montana)

When he was elected to the US Senate, I really hoped that he would remain the straight-shooting small-town guy I knew from school.  But predictably, it was not to be.

Looking at his voting record, I know that Jon is forced by his party to support many positions that are against the best interests of his fellow Montanans.  If there were no parties, no personal financial interests, no rigid political hierarchies to maintain, I’m sure that Jon would vote quite differently – based on who he was, where he was raised, the values he grew up with, and the needs and wishes of his friends and neighbors.   Instead, he must cater to the government employee unions, the radical environmentalists, and the other special-interest supporters of his party.

So we can no longer vote for a Democrat for Congress based on his or her merits and expressed viewpoints.  We know that his or her personal convictions won’t matter.  Independent Republicans have become an endangered species.  Independent Democrats are now extinct.

I would love to support the guy Jon Tester was.  But because he is now in lock-step with the Democrat party leaders whose actions I can’t condone, I can’t support the senator he has become.  A vote for Jon is a vote for Obamacare, for Harry Reid’s refusal to present passed House bills to the floor or to write a budget, and for bigger government and more debt.  I’m not sure Jon supports any of that stuff in his heart.  But his future votes have already been bought and paid for.

And that’s sad.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

I’m looking through you, where did you go?
I thought I knew you, what did I know?
You don’t look different, but you have changed
I’m looking through you, you’re not the same

I’m Looking Through You – the Beatles