An election result by itself isn’t a victory, as Carl Graham of the Montana Policy Institute explains:
Politics is about power, and this year’s results determined where the power will be for at least the next couple of years. But power without principle is at best ineffective and at worst dangerous. We need to make sure that those in power reflect the principles of the people who put them there.
Power is also fleeting, while principles and the ideas they foster are lasting. Unfortunately, some of the election results seem to indicate that many Montanans are investing more in people whose names they recognize or who they think will fix their problems than in the ideas that will eliminate the sources of those problems. Overspending, over regulation, shifting everyday decisions from people to bureaucracies, pandering to special interests or the policy fad of the day; these are all things that shift the power of people to govern themselves to someone or something else. They take away responsibility for our own actions, and by extension the ability and freedom to decide how to live our lives.
I don’t think most Montanans get the relationship between freedom and responsibility yet. We need to get that word out or the shift we saw in this election could turn out to be just a footnote in the history books. The grass roots movement that drove this wave has passion, but even the hottest fire fades without adequate fuel. We need to inform and impress upon our fellow citizens the importance of ideas over people. We need to remember that politicians don’t typically lead the culture, they follow it.