Greg Gianforte is not Montana. At least, not the Montana I know.
Like Mr. Gianforte, I didn’t have the benefit of being born and raised here. I chose Montana as my home as soon as I was old enough to do so. When I moved out West and stepped off the plane in Bozeman I first fell deeply in love with the mountains- and then equally in love with its fine, caring, hard working people. As spectacular and spiritually restorative as our expansive open sky, clean air, grand vistas, meadows, forests, raging rivers and snow capped mountains are to visit, the people are what make Montana worth the stay.
This is a place full of individuals who are inherently good, decent people. It’s a place where we’ve found our values and committed to preserving them. We work the land here, passing down the lessons of how to raise animals and cultivate crops through generations. We hunt and fish with integrity. The meat harvested from animals sustains families who have a gratitude for the circle of life in our great state. We have incredible public schools, colleges and universities where some of the most dedicated teachers care for and educate our youth. We encourage and support small businesses here that are patronized by our friends and neighbors and communities.
We build relationships despite distance. We close the gaps of hundreds of miles that separate us by operating under an unspoken but deeply felt moral code; that we are all Montanans. We are all in this together.
Our political beliefs differentiate us, but we will not let them divide us. We have too much to lose, too much to protect.
The things we all value- the beauty of this state, the opportunities, the freedom to enjoy our way of life- these things are worth protecting. Montanans are smarter, tougher and braver than to blindly acquiesce our principles in this hard won ground.
In Montana, most of us have the maturity to handle our differences non-violently. We have the wisdom to condemn that kind of conduct. We have integrity and we conduct ourselves with dignity. Most of us have been through hard times and we know how to put our heads down and cowboy up. Most of us know that the hard thing and the right thing are usually the same thing and it’s a show of maturity and strength to plow through the tough times with grit and grace. This is a place where friends, neighbors and even strangers show up with meals, or offer to help build a fence, or watch your children when life has you on the ropes, after all.
As someone who has been adopted by this beautiful place and its equally beautiful individuals, I feel the need to defend the state and people I have grown to love. To the rest of the 49; this isn’t us. This man, his actions, his subsequent lies and sheepish manner of sliding in under the gun is not Montana. We deserve better than what we’ve been handed and so do you. Just know that back home we are still the kind of people this Nation can be proud of. I certainly am.
Give ‘Em Hell