Nancy Leifer and Nancy Maxson, Co-Presidents of the League of Women Voters of Missoula
Government is about US. When people come together to form a government—local, national, tribal, school board or other—they look beyond themselves as individuals (Me) and work together for the WE. Every form of democratic government is established to promote “the common good”.
When we form a government, we are asking ourselves “What do we need to come together to improve, support, protect? What do we need to regulate (pass laws to promote or prevent) and what do we need to pay for collectively (levy taxes to fund)?”
Those are the questions our elected government officials ask themselves every day.
The more mechanized and technically sophisticated our societies become, the more we rely on our governments to ensure our safety and promote our welfare. Before we had cars, we didn’t need traffic laws and we didn’t need to pay for paved highways. Before we had computers, we didn’t need to protect ourselves from cyber terrorism. Now we rely on government officials to make informed decisions about these and other challenging issues.
WE, as citizens, have the responsibility to elect representatives who can grapple with the issues confronting our communities and develop solutions to the problems we face. The more people in a community, the larger the government needed to serve it and the more complex the decisions the elected officials are asked to make.
We, as citizens, also have the opportunity to elect candidates that represent the diversity of our communities. For example, Montana’s 12 Native American members of the 2018-2019 Montana Legislature constituted 7.3 percent of the legislature, while Native Americans constituted about 6.7 percent of the state’s population. Montana is a leader among the states in having fair representation for its Native American citizens.
On June 2, we citizens voted in a primary election, selecting our political party’s nominees for the general election. The primary is part one of our election cycle; part two is our general election in November. Statewide, voters chose to advance 15 Native American candidates to the general election.
The League of Women Voters thanks every citizen who voted in the primary election. Without voters accepting the responsibility to choose our government representatives, our democracy and our government cannot serve our “common good.”
The League would also like to thank all the candidates who ran for office in the primary and those who are running in the general election. More than half of the people who run for office will not be elected, but all of the candidates are willing to serve. We want to thank them for their commitment, leadership, and willingness to step up and take on the responsibility to ensure that all are represented in passing laws and in making critical decisions on how to invest our tax dollars for the common good.