With early voting in full swing and Election Day just 18 days away, the big question is always – who do I vote for? It’s a critical question given that we live in a representative republic; which means that we vote for people who believe as we do, so that our values and beliefs are carried to Helena and supported by our elected representatives. That assumes, of course, that the person with our values wins the election. It’s a system built around the concept of majority rule, where we hope that the collective wisdom of the majority leads to the best laws and the most orderly government. Is it perfect? No. No system of government ever is. It only works if the majority of the citizenry has a strong, well-developed underlying moral code that translates through its elected officials. And that only happens if politicians are honest about what they believe so that the people can choose a candidate who best represents their values.
Some candidates are extremely forthcoming—they’ll tell you exactly where they stand. Others are more cagey; they speak in nuances and every statement has a qualifier. When dealing with these types of candidates, a Latin phrase comes to mind – caveat emptor, let the buyer beware. It’s a frustrating game played every election cycle. Candidates hide, and it’s up to us to seek the truth. At the Montana Family Foundation, we have a tool to make this easier, it’s called the Montana Voter Guide and you can find it at www.montanavoterguide.com. Candidates fill out surveys and we publish their answers unedited. It’s non-partisan and straight forward. Some candidates participate, others don’t. For those who don’t, the question is – what are they trying to hide?
The biggest challenge in any election cycle is knowing which judges to vote for. They have a huge impact on our lives and yet we know virtually nothing about them. One of the most contentious judicial races this cycle is the race for Supreme Court Justice between sitting Justice Mike Wheat and former Montana Solicitor General Lawrence VanDyke. Outside money is pouring into this race because the differences between these two candidates are as clear as night and day. Mike Wheat is a former Democrat State Senator appointed to the bench by former Governor Brian Schweitzer in 2010. As a Senator, he has an extensive voting record. It’s easy to figure out what Justice Wheat believes—his voting record shows that he is pro-abortion, he voted against a bill that required minors to notify their parents before getting an abortion, he voted no on a legislative referendum asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a decision barring the Pledge of Allegiance from public school classrooms, and as a Justice in 2012 he ruled in favor of marriage benefits for same-sex couples. His opponent, Lawrence VanDyke, argued against same-sex marriage benefits as Solicitor General of Montana. He is endorsed by the Montana Chamber of Commerce and the Montana Shooting Sports Association.
This is the type of information that voters need in order to cast an informed vote. Please—go to www.montanavoterguide.com and download your personalized voter guide. Compare the candidates, and if one failed to fill out the survey, call and ask them why, then take that information and use it to cast an informed vote.