There’s an old saying, “What goes around comes around,” and what’s coming soon is a predictable reality check that voters put into play clear back in November. I’m talking about a flood of bills that will pass both the Montana House and Senate only to run smack into the wall of the Governor’s veto pen.
Back in November, voters chose the Republican candidate over the Democrat candidate by large majorities in every single state-wide race, every race, that is, except the Governor’s race. For State Auditor, Matt Rosendale won by 37,000 votes, for Secretary of State, Cory Stapleton won by 72,000 votes and in the Attorney General’s race, Tim Fox won by a whopping 174,000 votes. Then came the Governor’s race where voters decided to re-elect Governor Steve Bullock by 19,000 votes. Fine. I get that. It’s the voters’ prerogative. But elections have consequences, and the consequences of electing large majorities of Republicans in the House and Senate, only to elect a Democrat governor is to enact gridlock, the very thing that voters say that they want most to avoid.
The problem is not with the elected officials. It’s with us, the electorate. We want something completely unrealistic. We want Republicans and Democrats to compromise and work together. Can’t they all just get along? Short answer: No, they can’t! If we take the time to read the Republican and Democrat party platforms, we see that they’re diametrically opposed on nearly every issue. These are substantive issues, borne out of two very different world views, so different, in fact, that the two sides don’t just see a benefit of having their viewpoint codified, they see a very real danger in having the other side’s values win the day.
In essence, there’s very little room for compromise, because Republican legislators and our Democrat governor both see themselves as the savior of the people, protecting values from irreparable harm should the other party’s values ever become law. And it’s for that reason that voters will never realize their dream of a utopian state where Republicans and Democrats sit around the campfire and sing Kumbaya. We are a people deeply divided with two very distinct worldviews, competing for control of the State, and of the nation, for that matter.
As we draw closer to the end of the legislative session, the House and Senate clerks will begin to announce veto after veto after veto as bills begin to pile up on the Governor’s desk. If recent history’s any indication, we can expect as many as 80 vetoes, on everything from the 24-week abortion ban to the ban on using foreign laws in our courts to nearly every pro-gun law passed this session. And before we get mad at the Governor, let’s remember he’s just being true to his party’s platform. It’s we, the voters, who decided to match a Republican legislature with a Democrat governor, then hope for the best.
And in the end, we DID get their best. Republicans offered their very best policy from THEIR viewpoint, and the Governor is doing his best to only enact policy consistent with HIS party’s beliefs. Both sides are doing their best. The only problem is each side’s best is incompatible with their opponent’s beliefs. The result is gridlock. And it’s exactly what we voted for.