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An open letter to Montana Senator Daines:

In an article in the Helena Independent Record on July 23, 2019, you were quoted as suggesting that the 2020 election is a battle between freedom and socialism and that the four women congresswomen, all young women of color, labeled by some as "the squad," pose a threat to democracy and represent anti-American radical socialism.

I am the same age as our so-called president, and the same race, and I am a Montanan and a small business owner, yet neither you nor our so-called president represent my views. These four women, who by the way, are duly elected representatives, do represent my views and I’m glad they are speaking up and standing up. Even if they didn’t share my views they certainly have the right, and as congressional representatives, perhaps the responsibility, to speak out. I am appalled that you call them anti-American radical socialists and represent a threat to democracy and our so-called freedom.

My dictionary defines socialism as “a political theory advocating collective or government ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.” I cannot find any evidence that any of these four women are advocating for this and therefore calling them "socialists" is simply name-calling. By the way, as a senior citizen I am grateful for my monthly social security check and Medicare. I’d be in a world of hurt without them and I expect the vast majority of seniors feel the same way.

While we’re talking definitions, my dictionary defines "fascism" as a philosophy that is characterized by strong nationalism, autocratic rule headed by a dictatorial leader, anti-liberal, anti-socialist, and has no tolerance for opposing opinions. Hmmmm… Which do you think is a "threat to democracy?"

As for freedom … a recent poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that 37% of Americans could not name one freedom guaranteed in our First Amendment. Less than half could name only one: the freedom of speech. Far fewer could name freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom to petition the government, all freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment. The four congresswomen have a right guaranteed by the Constitution to criticize our government and calling them "anti-American" and a threat to democracy is, well, a threat to democracy.

By the way our "president" is not exactly supportive of freedom of the press, having called serious journalists "enemies of the people," and has challenged freedom of religion (attempting to ban Muslims from entering the country), and stating that “Islam hates us” and that he would strongly consider closing mosques in the United States to deter terrorism. He has attempted to abridge our freedom of assembly, proposing dramatic limits on the right to demonstrate near the White House, for instance. He is not fond of freedom of speech (“I think it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters”). In fact, though our president has made several pronouncements about our great Constitution and our guaranteed rights, he seems to have quite a history of finding exceptions that suit him.

Benjamin Franklin said, “It is the responsibility of every citizen to question authority.” None other than another President of the United States, a Republican by the name of Theodore Roosevelt, stated, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but morally treasonable to the American public.”

Challenging the patriotism and in fact saying that four young congresswomen are a "threat to democracy" for challenging the status quo and "rocking the boat" of complacent good-old-boys is, in my opinion, "not only unpatriotic and servile, but morally treasonable to the American public."

Who is the threat to democracy, Senator?

Tom Butts

Helena

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