As the clocked ticked to 8:30 pm last night (Oct. 30), I changed the channel on my television over to my local Montana PBS HD channel from my cable provider, Optimum. There was nothing – just a black screen. So I changed the channel to the non-HD channel to get my local Montana PBS station. Nothing there either. So I headed to the computer and found the program “Big Sky, Big Money” available to view on the PBS website. So Optimum, what’s up with that?
If you missed the show, you can watch it HERE. It is about 54 minutes in length.As someone who has been involved in and around politics for the past 20 years, the show was not too surprising because (as you have read here many times) in politics everything is about the next election. From every vote made to every speech given to every appointment placed on the schedule it’s all about the candidate or office holder positioning one’s self to get the most votes and win their next election. As long as voters realize that about their candidates and elected officials, in the end they won’t be disappointed with what they get.
The show “Big Sky, Big Money” takes a look at how the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision changed campaigns in America, specifically in Montana. They look at one group, Western Tradition Partnership (WTP) now called American Tradition Partnership, and some documents found in “meth house” in Colorado. You can read about the documents HERE.
People viewing the show will undoubtedly see the need for some changes. Some Montana politicians (and supporters) came across as looking pretty ridiculous during the show.
About 7:00 minutes into the show, Congressman Denny Rehberg (who is running against U.S. Senator Jon Tester) says, “If you believe in the First Amendment, which is free speech, then you had better believe in political free speech. What’s what’s more important to this country than political free speech? Because it’s what guides us, it’s what allows us the opportunity to govern ourselves.”
Personally, I have no problem with groups trying to influence elections and I do believe in free speech. I do have problems with groups like the tax exempt “501(c) (4)” ones mentioned in the program who can pour millions into a state like Montana and not disclose from where their funding comes. We need better transparency from these groups. Maybe Congress will place this on their “to do” list.
Hopefully 2012 will be the start of making sure elections are more transparent. Secrecy is not good for our political process or for our Republic, period.
Follow Jack on Twitter @TheWesternWord