The events of the past weeks of the Montana legislative session prompt me to write a letter, not about specific bills, but about the shift in the value systems of the people who are elected to represent us.
On Jan. 28, 2011, Rachel Maddow discussed this shift using Republican President Eisenhower as an example. (You can Google this by searching “Eisenhower Rachel Maddow.”) According to the politics of today, Eisenhower would seem like a radical. He advocated for expanding Social Security, strengthening unions, more access to health care and equal pay for workers regardless of sex. This is not a comprehensive list, just a selection.
Our state government has cut federal food stamp benefits by $35 million and the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program by $9 million. This is not state money. It was simply turning away federal dollars that would have gone to Montana families in need. This is the tiny tip of the iceberg.
The part of this that fills me with confusion is that many members of this ultra-conservative group identify themselves as Christians. How does denying food and warmth to low-income children, the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, and the mentally ill coincide with the principles of Christianity? Where does looking out for yourself, and ignoring everyone else, find a place in the value systems of people who have been elected as public servants?
It is up to us, the people, to correct this trend and to change our direction. I hope for sanity and compassion.