Gazette opinion: Just like the good ol' days of campaigning

2014-08-20T06:00:00Z 2014-08-20T06:56:05Z Gazette opinion: Just like the good ol' days of campaigning The Billings Gazette
August 20, 2014 6:00 am

It sounds a bit odd to get sentimental about policy.

But it’s true: In the days of attack ads, secret political action committees and wedge issues, it makes people downright nostalgic for the days of wonky policy debates and talk of government procedure.

During these long-and-growing-longer political seasons that seem to be a never-ending campaign for office, we find ourselves wanting something of substance rather than just fear and attack.

In the hubbub of the Sen. John Walsh plagiarism scandal and the ensuing nomination for the Democratic candidate, some may have not noticed the quiet but important debates taking place in Montana’s lone House race.

You may not have noticed because it’s been notably civil and lacks the rabid attacks of other campaigns.

Instead, both John Lewis and Ryan Zinke have engaged in a campaign of issues and substance — so far. We hope that continues. Instead of focusing on personalities and partisan positions, they’ve both staked out ideological differences to have them available on their respective websites.

For example, both Zinke and Lewis have issued their own positions on energy. Then came agricultural plans. Now, comes plans to address the deep problems within the Veterans Administration.

Let’s just pause on this: They’ve talked about veterans, energy and agriculture. These things actually matter. Issues of substance. Issues that really mean something. Issues that affect Montanans.

We would like to publicly congratulate both of these men for, so far, keeping the debate and conversation to the issues. And while it would probably be too much to ask or even hope for, we can’t help but dream of a campaign season in which the heated debate stays centered on the issues, rather than on personal attacks or pandering to partisanship.

We also hope that folks take notice of the debates and engage with candidates. Do the research on where they stand on these issues. Please don’t let the “D” or the “R” behind their names do all the thinking for you. These candidates have put some thought and effort into forming opinions that matter. Now it’s time for us to do our job and evaluate which position we believe would be the best fit for Montana.

We hope that others, not just on the state level, see this as an example of how politics can still be done. The right candidates with integrity and confidence in their own positions can indeed run a race that doesn’t rely on underhanded suggestions or fearmongering.

It’s a good thing that we can be supportive of both candidates instead of lamenting our poor choice. It’s not just a race to figure which candidate is the least palatable.

In the end, the winner will be important — this one person will be Montana’s only voice in the U.S. House. However, by having a competitive race with ideas and solutions, it will be all of Montana that will benefit as it gets to discuss ideas of substance rather than be bombarded with a campaign of mud.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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