American history is a story of profound conflict. There are those who believe that corporations and the wealthy few should control the rest of us. And there are those of us focused on the wellbeing of real people. Conflict is inevitable.
The corporatists want government to function solely to support their interests, arguing that if corporations and the rich thrive, everyone else will be just fine. This is self-serving nonsense.
These corporatists are spending obscene amounts of money trying to discredit any government functions which go beyond their narrow, parochial interests. They work nonstop to prevent qualified voters from voting or to convince them that government is so broken that voting is a wasted effort. They brainwash the oppressed and ill-informed into believing that government-for-all-of-us doesn't work. They also install incompetents and saboteurs in the government, performing their jobs really badly. The current Republicans in Congress are a prime example.
How do we overcome the money and misrepresentations of corporations and their overpaid retainers? How do we stop the peddling of America to the highest bidders? By electing people like Amanda Curtis. For me, she represents the track back to the People's business -- one candidate at a time, one precinct, one governor's house, one Senate seat at a time.
Amanda's a 35-year-old Montana high school math teacher. She's prepared to represent real people in the U.S. Senate because she is one. Amanda speaks for the vast majority of working, middle class women and men and their families. She sums up her vision for Montana as we must for America: "Us, Not Them." I read this as "People. Not Plutocrats."
There's no confusing her, and candidates like her, with Tea Party opponents. Hers is Steve Daines, a multi-millionaire with a focus-grouped slogan as vacuous as it is deceitful: "More Jobs, Less Government." He strongly supported closing down the U.S. government (so much for jobs) in a state that gets back $1.51 for every federal dollar it pays in.
Amanda is a true representative of "Us." Against staggering odds, through education and grit, Amanda worked her way into the middle class. Yes, she grew up poor, in a broken home and in a state with above average poverty. Yes, her father's union benefits were Amanda's lifeline. Her mother was ill and her brother died young.
But Amanda persevered. She knows how vitally important education and opportunity are to regular people and their families. Amanda and her husband are proud to be working class, living modestly in Butte where she teaches math to Montana high school students. Because she wants real kids and their families to flourish. She also figured out that the patriarchs and oligarchs do not care about us. We must speak up for ourselves. So she got herself elected to the Montana House of Representatives. Her legislative experience is entirely different from that of her opponent. While she was in the Montana House, connecting with her constituents on YouTube, Daines, an "ambitious amateur", was costing Montana alone $45,000,000 by supporting the government shutdown, excluding the ongoing costs of Congress' cynical sequestration.
Now take everything I've told you about Amanda, flip it 180 degrees to understand her opposition: Steve Daines. He's a stereotypical Tea Party candidate, aggressively threatening our national well-being. It's enough for me that he's so rabidly anti-woman that he co-sponsored the notorious "Life at Conception" or "personhood" Act. (Women and men who love them, take heed!) He's the carbon copy of any and all the corporate suits found among his Tea Party extremist crowd. And he's a salesman. Caveat emptor!
"Government" is a self-governing people's operating system. It makes it possible for us to live together under the law and, oh yes, get schools, roads and pollution control and a whole lot more in the bargain. It's US! And it's ruthlessly and relentlessly under attack from the rich and powerful. Montana has a long history of resisting corporate power. Montanans can show us yet again how it's done.
So VOTE! Then do whatever you do best to beat back corporations and those they've enriched. Ignore the polls*! We're changing them. Our tired feet and telephone-ear; the extra miles on the car (or bus or train or moped) getting people to polls, early if possible; nudges for the reluctant, encouragement for the discouraged; conversations in the checkout line, letters to the editor of your newspaper and tv station, funding pizza for volunteers -- that's how elections get won. Just Do It!
It's reasonable -- indeed healthy -- to be skeptical about the polls. Many of the states on the ballot this year present unique polling challenges. Many have a large number of undecided voters. And the quality of the polling is mixed. Historically, the error in polls is considerably larger than their margins of error alone imply.