Guest opinion: Harry Reid shouldn't have meddled in Montana election

2014-03-19T00:00:00Z Guest opinion: Harry Reid shouldn't have meddled in Montana electionBy JOHN BOHLINGER The Billings Gazette
March 19, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Montanans' most fundamental right is at risk: the right to choose who we want to represent us in free and open primary elections.

In an unprecedented political maneuver, our highest elected officials selected a candidate for the U.S. Senate, a decision made for Montanans in Washington, D.C.

Primary endorsement

Historically, elected officials have trusted Montana voters to choose who we want on the ballot. Political parties and their elected officials have held fast to the tradition of not endorsing candidates in the primaries.

Last Nov. 5, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called me and told me to drop out of the Senate race, because they had already chosen their candidate. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee didn't want a primary. I refused, and life since then has been a long, cold winter in politics, in which I learned the dark side of power and money in politics.

The insiders broke the non-endorsement tradition, and our party's endorsed candidate is now the U.S. senator — without any input from Montana voters. Is this what we want? I don't think so. I believe every Montanan has a right to a voice and a vote in their own elections.

Our constitutional freedoms have slowly been eroded away, and this latest threat is a blatant attack on the very foundation of our freedom — the democratic right to choose who shall represent us in our republic. Every election, whether a primary or general, is about choice.

It is a basic tenet of our democracy that government originates with the people and is founded upon their will. Somehow, we are being told that now, it originates from a few powerful people and is founded on their self-interest.

In Montana traditions matter. I invite you to stand with me this spring and tell the power brokers in Washington, D.C., that we can make our own decisions. As Desmond Tutu said, "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." Freedom, democracy and justice are American principles.

Does Montana's senate seat belong to Harry Reid?

I say no. Win or lose, I believe the people of Montana have a right to choose and elect our own officials, one vote at a time.

Former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger of Helena is a candidate for Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. Bohlinger previously represented a Billings state Senate district as a Republican.

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

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