The Politics of Preparedness – What Montana Must Have in its Next Governor
Part 1 – ‘We the People’
I was driving in eastern Montana last week when suddenly my lungs were satiated with an overpowering sensation best described as a harsh and bitter bite combined with an unmistakable aroma otherwise known as the recent spray of skunk. In parts of the country where skunks are common place this might normally be a good thing this time of year. For those unfamiliar with this annual occurrence, the smell of skunks in late winter is one of the first signs of the coming of spring. However, this year has not been a typical winter. The past four months have produced very little snow and mostly mild temperatures. This abnormal weather almost seems to beg the question, what of the now impending spring? So with lungs now recovering, I was left to ponder not just the skunk but the other signs of spring as well.
Soon I was as deep into contemplation as a driver dare get, when yet another sign confronted my senses, albeit more visual than aromatic. It was then that I realized (in case I hadn’t before) that this was in fact an election year. But this is not just any election cycle, this is gubernatorial primary season as conspicuously confirmed by a prominently placed placard soliciting my attention and requesting my vote. As I thought about the significance of this latest sign an uneasy trepidation stampeded my brain, which had only recently repelled the odiferous effects of an unseen assailant. But no time for that now as I was coming in to town and I could already tell that the traffic was about to get crazy.
Since that day, however, I have continued to contemplate the significance of the crucial 2012 primary and general election seasons. This season, like the waning months of winter is truly shaping up to be anything but normal. In just a matter of weeks and again in only eight short months, Montana’s will be faced with the most crucial gubernatorial election in recent memory. For as we the people of this state gather to cast our ballots, history will record the day as either a missed opportunity or a great beginning. Moreover, the choice on the ballot is not just about a man but about the unwritten history that will be made long after the last ballot has been counted. Though the stakes are higher than they have been in many years and the issues at hand are as complex as they are varied the choice is really quite simple. On one hand we will have the opportunity to elect a man who will forever be remembered by the writers of history. While on the other hand, the people of Montana can place into office a man who himself will be the writer of history. The only question is which candidate will fill which bill?
On a regular basis now, I travel the roads of eastern Montana complete with their obstacles of ice and odors yet brimming with opportunity for prosperity and true sustainable growth. While I face the obstacles in order to engage the opportunity, I cannot help but wonder if this state is prepared to do the same. There are many challenges before us both as a nation and as a state. Yet with each challenge comes the potential for opportunity. The question here is will we let the former keep us from the latter. In my own life I have chosen again and again to leave the comforts of home and hearth to brave the conditions and overcome the obstacles for nothing more than a chance at an opportunity. Like the people of this state I am not guaranteed success in any of my endeavors only the opportunity for it. Yet, I know that if you don’t start somewhere you will never get anywhere and if you don’t try something you will never achieve anything.
Thus, over the past 18 months my wife and I have journeyed countless times into the land of opportunity better known perhaps by the moniker of eastern Montana and western North Dakota. As most people know by now this a land capable of putting the ‘treasure’ back into the ‘treasure state’. The question is not should we develop these resources but rather how? With over seven billion people now living on the planet and with an increasing percentage of those rightfully demanding the better things in life the need for petroleum is greater than at any other time in human history. If you don’t believe me take this one simple test.
Name one commercially viable product that in the life cycle of the product from development to consumption does not require petroleum at some point in the process.
The harsh reality is that regardless of how desperately we want a greener planet free of fossil fuels the idea is and will remain, impossible for the foreseeable future. That said, we must diligently pursue the means to extract and utilize petroleum with more environmentally friendly processes so that we truly are good stewards of the treasures beneath our feet.
Today the future is unwritten yet by year’s end the story line will be set. Will we be stewards that through diligence of effort shepherd in sustainable prosperity for future generations despite the obstacles? Or will we continue to ignore the warning signs and be forever remembered as those that could have but did not? Wake up Montana the future is now!