Would you vote for someone who completely ignores you?

January 24, 2014

It’s actually an extraordinary coincidence that I was working on an article about a proposed piece of federal legislation, as it pertains to Congressman Steve Daines (R) MT, when I received a personal phone call from one of the congressman’s aids.


The call was a response to an email I sent my Congressman about an idea I have, that might help improve the situation for our retired veterans.


I feel it is also necessary to specify, that the gentleman I spoke to works in the Washington office, not for the Congressman’s current campaign.


Overall it was a very pleasant and encouraging conversation.  The purpose was to give me an opportunity to elaborate on my thoughts, which of course I did, but I was told about some other things the Congressman is working on, related to our veterans.


From what I gathered from the conversation, the Congressman is not on the committee that directly handles this issue, but the wellbeing of Montana’s veterans is very high among the Congressman’s priorities.


As I very much hope my fellow Montanans will make their own efforts, to engage our Congressman and other leaders, I’m not going to convey everything I was told, and that we talked about, but I’ll give you a sample.


For starters, the email I sent was about 2013 Montana House Bill 153.  This bill received unusually strong bipartisan support, and then died when the session ended.  This bill would have created a state tax incentive for employers in Montana who hire and retain veterans.


I understand of course, if that sort of idea were to even be considered at the federal level, it would be a heck of a lot more complicated, but I’ve seen plenty of examples of state legislation being more or less used as a basic model for federal legislation.  So I figured what the heck, and I wrote an email suggesting exactly that.


You see the thing is, we hear about our veterans pensions, and access to medical and mental health services, all the time, but I don’t hear much about making sure our veterans have work to come back to.  Granted these other things are very important, but so is the means to get on with life.  Just having something to do that is worth doing, is one of the best ways to feel normal, but I certainly wouldn’t advocate for, and it was made pretty clear that our Congressman wouldn’t support, any legislation that would reduce our veterans access to these other necessities.


That’s actually what brings me to the best part of this conversation.  As I said, the gentleman I spoke to is in Washington DC working for a United States Congressman, you can be sure he wouldn’t have that job if he didn’t know how to be careful of what he says, because you never really know what kind of influence an individual might have.  He did not say Congressman Daines will appreciate my input, but that he has to be sure any legislation he supports is in the best interest of the United States as well as Montana.


The gentleman I spoke to let me know that Montana is the Congressman’s first and foremost priority.  I didn’t tell him, but Congressman Daines would not have my support this year, if it were the other way around, and that’s the real point of this article.


In 2012 just shy of half a million votes were cast in the race for United States Representative here in Montana.  I honestly haven’t got a clue, what percentage of Montana voters actually try to write their Congressman, but I’m sure he gets a lot of emails and letters, more than I could ever read myself.


I didn’t expect much of a response, if any at all.  I’ve received form letter responses from others, thanking me for writing, and telling me how important my contribution is, but an actual phone call, from somebody who actually read my email.  That is encouraging, even if it wasn’t Congressman Daines himself on the phone it’s more than I’ve ever gotten from any other federal lawmaker, and I’ve written more than just a couple letters.


Obviously our federal lawmakers have far more important responsibilities, but I shouldn’t have to mention, this is how they are supposed to make their decisions.  Too many have forgotten that, but that’s just one more thing to think bout between now and November.


Glenn W. Uncles Jr.

Helena, Montana

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