“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

–Attributed to George Orwell

As I write this, I cannot help to hesitate.

I just returned from Helena, where I attended a big republican convention. I heard our Governor, our federal representatives, state representatives, and those running for such offices give speeches. I met many candidates, elected members, campaign managers, lobbyists, and other government officials.

I asked the people I met there how they got involved in politics and what motivates them. It seems these individuals fall into a few different categories. From my own sample size, about 50% of people I spoke with got into politics for questionable reasons. Another 30% have good reasons but have conceded to the status quo political ways. Finally, 20% were true blooded patriots who really care about preserving our state, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights.

This might not come as a surprise for some. But if you have ever wondered why politics, politicians, and the process is the way it is… I got to look behind the curtain, and it all made sense. We have all seen politicians dodge questions. Likewise, we have all seen them answer questions that were not asked. I attended classes at this convention in which these strategies were taught. Furthermore, we voters are bombarded with smear campaigns targeting political opponents. Radio ads, Youtube ads, television ads, mailers, signs… All filled with attacks on political opponents. The reason we experience this, is because it is taught. I saw it firsthand.

While there, I was asked about fundraising for my campaign. I told them that I’ve had some friends and community members donate money, totaling around $800. I explained to them that I understand there are some things that need paid for, but that I believe mainstream campaign money is often abused and this is a symptom of the bigger problem. I tried to explain that I live out my principles and I would much rather speak to voters in person, then spend thousands of dollars on a bunch of signs that will be thrown away in 6 months.

The rhetorical response from one individual was, “what principles?” Another responded, “get over it.” Similarly, I came to realize that many in these positions look at voters as data points; as pen marks on a ballot, not as people who can think for themselves. Therefore, the understanding from many in politics is the end justifies the means. And the end is getting elected or reelected. Damned be your principles, damned be your morals, and damned be your values.

I, like many others, have had enough of it. You and I are not some useful idiots who can be taken advantage of or manipulated by mainstream political strategies and techniques. We have the capacity to think for ourselves, to see through the mainstream political playbook, and to change the direct of our nation. Next time you see a candidate running for office, look to see if they use the mainstream “techniques” in their campaigns. Do they repeat a few main talking points over and over? Do they dodge questions? Do they spend ridiculous amounts of money on signage, advertisement, websites, or someone “managing” their campaign? Do they play the game of imbedding themselves into positions of influence before and during their campaigning? Do they have poor motivation for getting involved? Are they someone who from a young age was involved in politics and has never left? Do they run smear campaigns against their opponents? If they have been elected, what does their voting record show?

The answers you find to these questions can be an indication of a problem. Obviously, that problem is getting the same old thing when we vote; Nothing changes, and our state and nation continue the downward spiral. Some will argue that our opponents will do these things, so in turn we must do them as well. They will argue that this is just politics, and it is necessary.

It is not necessary. We as Americans have reached the breaking point. The old way is not working. It is corrupt, wasteful, destructive, and anti-American. The way we change it is by getting involved, and not voting for the same old thing. See through the political game plans, recognize the mainstream patterns, and call a spade a spade. Speaking the truth is hard and uncomfortable sometimes. But it must be done.

Running for Montana House District 90

Jeff Stanek