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Tammi Fisher: Leaders have normalized deviant behavior

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Patriot Front Arrests

Authorities arrest members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front on Saturday near an Idaho pride event after they were found packed into the back of a U-Haul truck with riot gear.

When a pack of alt-right wing whackadoos decide to load up into a U-haul in Couer D’ Alene, Idaho, to interfere with a Pride Celebration, the gasp heard around the Mountain West should ring as loud as my voice when I belt out George Strait tunes. It’s shocking that in 2022, there are people who still harbor disdain for the fact that gay folk exist and desire the same freedoms as straight folks. Ironically, the same folks that wear “Don’t tread on me” T-shirts seek to tread on others who don’t share their viewpoints. In a state where “Oro y Plata” is as representative of Montanans as the phrase “live and let live,” and where women had their right to vote recognized before the federal government came around, the behavior of the U-haul bandits makes as much sense as renting a U-haul when an Uber or carpool to the event would suffice.

Shock should pulse through our veins when we see cancel culture leftists protesting Supreme Court justices at their homes — versus the courthouse steps — based upon perception of a forthcoming legal decision. They seek to bully (or kill off) conservative justices, and they are inspired to do so by high ranking government officials. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer carelessly stated at a courthouse protest that conservative justices “will pay the price…you won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions”. There can be only one “price” Schumer desires the Justices to “pay” since their jobs are lifetime appointments for which no impeachment can occur related to legal decision making. Schumer takes zero personal accountability for these inciting statements, and instead of holding Schumer accountable, his supporters run toward equivalency, downplaying Schumer’s statements as “not as bad” as statements made by former President Trump.

But we aren’t shocked; these antics have come to be an expected response. Both the far left and far right are bullies, seeking to cancel anyone with an alternate view. Voters used to keep these bullies out of government. When voters began to embrace and elect those with low emotional intelligence over statesmen and women with a modicum of self-control, we normalized what should otherwise be shocking and deviant behavior. We have a State Superintendent of Public Instruction who violates the laws she advocates for and expects all of us to be pacified by her admonition to observe the law that she herself failed to observe. By pleading “no contest” to the charge of failing to stop for a school bus, Superintendent Arntzen follows a burgeoning line of elected officials who carelessly violate Montana law, take no accountability and expect the voting public to condone their behavior. And the truth is, we do condone their behavior, trashing the Republican platform and its principles every time we vote for self-proclaimed Republicans who knowingly and recently violate Montana law.

Greg Gianforte assaults a reporter, lies to the public about it, then pleads guilty because he was caught on tape and is rewarded with a both a congressional and a gubernatorial seat.

Troy Downing condemns our Montana heritage by violating multiple hunting laws, blames FWP law enforcement for his own admitted-to violations and obtains a seat as State Auditor.

Sen. Jason Ellsworth uses his position to bully a cop, lies about a meeting with Gianforte to violate Montana speed laws in construction zones, and obtains re-election. The Montana Legislature violated Montana law by selling historical chairs to themselves versus a public auction with zero consequence despite multiple complaints filed with the supposed “watchdogs” of Montana government.

Make no mistake, when the crime statistics for Montana are released, these “republicans” will blame “leftist policies” rather than the fact that as leaders they exemplify and thereby promote the behavior they condemn.

When deviant behavior is normalized, deviance increases. Increases in crime are expected results from a society whose leadership embraces deviant behavior. No one in Montana should be surprised that criminals now feel empowered to seek elected office in Montana, as they did in multiple legislative primaries. Leaders don’t exist without followers, and our leaders have normalized deviant behavior. None of us should be surprised at the disappointment or consequences that follow.

Tammi Fisher is an attorney, former mayor of Kalispell and the host of the Montana Values Podcast

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