Politics nowadays (especially nationally) has become a nasty business — continuing to highlight a seemingly increasing dysfunctionality of our government system. We have seen rhetoric taken to extremes under the impetus of dogmatic ideology (not limited to any one political party by the way!).

I believe in ideology — just as the framers of our Constitution did. I also take a "high" view of the Bible, believing it can provide guidance in these particularly turbulent times. A few of the guiding principles from Scripture that I believe can be useful:

• Government (and public policies) should pursue justice. This means that the government has responsibility to address evil acts, to protect its citizenry from oppressive acts of government and others, and to address social/economic conditions that unjustly limit people in their actual opportunities to live lives of freedom and responsible action.

• Government (and public policies) should always seek the common good of society as a whole. This means that public policies should put the well-being of the whole of society ahead of certain narrow segments of society (whether those segments are regional, ethnic, economic, religious, or racial). When all individuals are provided justice, then the common good is advanced.

• Government’s role should be limited. Government in and of itself is not evil (even though it can be used for evil purposes). In fact, Scripture says that it is God-ordained. God says it is part of His plan to provide order for society. But in carrying this out, recognition must be made that this role is active yet limited.

The Bible has many other things to say about government and public policies. But in reviewing these three principles above, one can see how there has often been significant breakdown in the practical outworking of these principles in modern day politics — and the result has been chaos.

In a desire to live out these principles in a practical and public way in our great state, I have decided to run for State Senator for District 41.

My underlying values, political positions, and strategic initiatives will use the above three principles as a foundation. It will be a candidacy of honesty and integrity, straight-forward talk, and action-orientation carried with civility. I look forward to representing the people in seeking the best for our community and our state.

John Schmidt of Helena is running for State Senate District 41 as a Republican. He is an adjunct instructor in business/finance for Helena College and an at-large pastor in the Helena area. He was senior vice president of finance/controller for Office Depot before becoming a pastor. He has served on the governor of Nevada’s Interagency Council on Homelessness and chaired the Sub-committee on Policies and Long-term Planning. He can be contacted at Schmidt4Montana@gmail.com.