Thankful for Montana and Much More

Big Hole River. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Once a year Americans stop for a day and give thanks, share meals with friends and family, and generally leave aside the daily hubbub that surrounds modern life for a while. Without doubt, citizens in the U.S. have much for which to be thankful — and Montanans, living in the last best place, have even more.

It doesn’t take a long trip from our home state to realize and appreciate that special feeling that comes when we return and cross the state line or deplane to the “Welcome to Montana” signs. And indeed, Montana is still a place where, if your truck or car is stuck in a snowbank, no one asks if you’re a Republican or Democrat before they help you dig out and get back on the road.

In fact, despite the fact that the political talking heads continue to tell us without pause that our nation is torn apart and locked in an internal war between Democrat and Republican partisans, the reality of daily life is much, much different. The truth is, partisan politics play a very small role in the life of most people who are working jobs, supporting their families, raising kids, taking care of aged parents and friends. Politics is the last thing most Montanans think about while walking through the woods or wading in one of our incredible rivers fishing for our world famous wild trout.

Even the political reality of the so-called “two party” system is mostly a myth. There are more people who consider themselves independents than a member of the Democrat or Republican parties. That’s even more true in Montana, where independence is not just valued, it is part and parcel of how we interact with each other and the respect we give each other for the right to have independent views, opinions and lifestyles.

Here, in the great “melting pot” of America, we are in fact one people despite our many and varied differences of race, religion, background and political affiliation, if any. And for that, especially in times of political turmoil, we should all be thankful and remain wary of the machinations of those who would divide and weaken us.

While many claim the highly charged impeachment hearings of the last two weeks are dividing the nation, the truth is that we can all be thankful we live in a country where those hearings are possible. Were it not for our constitutionally established “separate but equal” executive, judicial and legislative branches of government, there would be no way to hold those we place in high office accountable. There would be no way to ensure no one branch of government or no single individual steps outside the boundaries of the law and the rights enumerated in the constitution.

Speaking of constitutional rights, we can equally be thankful for freedom of the press, something many take for granted and which some disparage on a daily basis. None of us will come even close to agreeing with everything we read or hear or watch from the vast array of media now available, but think what it would be like if we only had the “official” media outlets of authoritarian governments.

In the midst of the turkey and trimmings, the pumpkin pie and whipped cream, take a minute to hold your loved ones close — and even spare a tolerant thought for those less loved. And don’t forget to look out the window and revel in the mountains, plains, forests and rivers of Montana, for which those of us lucky enough to live here are grateful every day.

More articles by:

George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.

Weekend Edition
March 27, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Bailouts for the Rich, the Virus for the Rest of Us
Louis Proyect
Life and Death in the Epicenter
Paul Street
“I Will Not Kill My Mother for Your Stock Portfolio”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Scum Also Rises
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Stimulus Bill Allows Federal Reserve to Conduct Meetings in Secret; Gives Fed $454 Billion Slush Fund for Wall Street Bailouts
Jefferson Morley
Could the Death of the National Security State be a Silver Lining of COVID-19?
Ruth Hopkins
A Message For America from Brazil’s First Indigenous Congresswoman
Kathleen Wallace
The End of the Parasite Paradigm
Anthony DiMaggio
Misinformation and the Coronavirus: On the Dangers of Depoliticization and Social Media
Andrew Levine
Neither Biden Nor Trump: Imagine Cuomo
David Rosen
God’s Vengeance: the Christian Right and the Coronavirus
David Schultz
The Covid-19 Bailout: Another Failed Opportunity at Structural Change
Evaggelos Vallianatos
In the Grip of Disease
Edward Leer
Somebody Else’s World: An Interview with Kelly Reichardt
Robert Fisk
What Trump is Doing in the Middle East While You are Distracted by COVID-19
Daniel Warner
COVID-19: Health or Wealth?
Thomas Klikauer – Norman Simms
Corona in Germany: Hording and Authoritarianism
Ramzy Baroud
BJP and Israel: Hindu Nationalism is Ravaging India’s Democracy
Richard Moser
Russia-gate: the Dead But Undead
Ron Jacobs
Politics, Pandemics and Trumpism
Chris Gilbert
Letter From Catalonia: Alarming Measures
Richard Eskow
Seven Rules for the Boeing Bailout
Jonathan Carp
Coronavirus and the Collapse of Our Imaginations
Andrew Bacevich
The Coronavirus and the Real Threats to American Safety and Freedom
Peter Cohen
COVID-19, the Exponential Function and Human the Survival
César Chelala - Alberto Luis Zuppi
The Pope is Wrong on Argentina
James Preston Allen
Alexander Cockburn Meets Charles Bukowski at a Sushi Bar in San Pedro
Jérôme Duval
The Only Oxygen Cylinder Factory in Europe is Shut down and Macron Refuses to Nationalize It
Neve Gordon
Gaza Has Been Under Siege for Years. Covid-19 Could Be Catastrophic
Alvaro Huerta
To Survive the Coronavirus, Americans Should Learn From Mexicans
Prabir Purkayastha
Why the Coronavirus Pandemic Poses Fundamental Challenges to All Societies
Raouf Halaby
Fireside Chatterer Andrew Cuomo for President
Thomas Drake
The Sobering Realities of the American Dystopia
Negin Owliaei
Wash Your Hands…If You Have Water
Felice Pace
A New Threat to California’s Rivers:  Will the Rush to Develop Our Newest Water Source Destroy More Streams?
Ray Brescia
What 9/11 Can Teach Us About Responding to COVID-19
The Covid-19 Opportunity
John Kendall Hawkins
An Age of Intoxication: Pick Your Poison
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Propaganda Virus: Is Anyone Immune?
Nicky Reid
Fear and Loathing in Coronaville Volume 1: Dispatches From a Terrified Heartland
Nolan Higdon – Mickey Huff
Don’t Just Blame Trump for the COVID-19 Crisis: the U.S. Has Been Becoming a Failed State for Some Time
Susan Block
Coronavirus Spring
David Yearsley
Lutz Alone
CounterPunch News Service
Letter from Truthdig’s Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer to the Publisher Zuade Kaufman
CounterPunch News Service
Statement From Striking Truthdig Workers