Sunday, June 03, 2007

Campus Progress spneds time with Brian Schweitzer

Sure, there is an element of 'fluffiness' here but it remains an opportunity to get the word out about Brian Schweitzer:
Five Minutes With: Governor Brian Schweitzer

Ben Adler and Graham Webster
May 3, 2007

Just three years into his new career in electoral politics, Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana has been heralded as the epitome of an important new movement: prairie populism. A lifelong Montanan with a background in science and a career in international business, the political neophyte ran for governor of Montana as a Democrat in 2004 and won, even though the state voted for President Bush by a wide margin. Since then Schweitzer has set out to make his name on a handful of important issues in the West: creating clean energy, defending water and wildlife, protecting local farmers, and helping Native American tribes retain their traditions in public education. Campus Progress spoke with Schweitzer on the phone about his signature issues, and his penchant for casual clothing.

You were not a political figure for most of your life. What made you decide to go into politics?

I think if you look at the direction this country has taken over the last ten years and you are passionate about your community and you don’t get involved in politics, you are going to regret it later on. We need talented, new people in politics, and I simply just said, “I think I can do a better job than the jokers who are doing it now.” We need people who are willing to step up, people who will bring a new perspective to leadership­and that’s what I was doing.

There’s a lot of talk here in Washington about whether the Rocky Mountain West, a traditionally conservative region, is going to open up and turn purple or blue. Do you think it will, and if so, why?

On the East and West Coast people look at the map of the center of the country and they draw lines that are red and blue on it. But people don’t get up in the morning and go off to work thinking they’re red or blue. They don’t sit down with their family thinking they’re red or blue. They don’t go to church on Sunday thinking they’re red or blue. We just don’t think about it that way out here.

In the Rocky Mountain West, we have a tradition of libertarian populists. And out here in Montana, we didn’t like the notion of having this PATRIOT Act that allows the federal government to spy on us and collect a lot of other financial information about law abiding citizens. We didn’t have to see the report come out to see that the FBI would abuse this­every time they’ve been given this power in the past, they have, and they did again this time.

And the greatest thing about Montana and the Rocky Mountain West is that you’re never more than 30 minutes from great trout fishing. You’re never more than 30 minutes from a place where you can hike. You can raise a family, and that family not only will grow up being able to camp, hunt, and fish, but to hike in some of the most pristine places left on the planet, drink the water and eat the fish that you catch in that stream.

We want to protect that, so when Washington, D.C. has notions about coming out here and digging up all of Montana and drilling wells everyplace that we’ve got across the state, saying, “Well, we need your energy and we’re willing to sacrifice your backyard,” folks in Montana say, “No, I don’t think so.” We could produce our energy with alternative energy; We don’t want you to destroy our backyard.
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The Baltimore Sun invokes the name of Brian Schweitzer

We're surprised but delighted that a newspaper on the east coast brings up Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. Read on:
Heck no

Baltimore Sun editorial
May 29, 2007

You gotta admire a governor who doesn't mince words about whether his state will comply with a knuckle-headed mandate from Washington as costly as it is offensive. "No, nope, no way, hell no" was how Montana's Brian Schweitzer put it, according to an Associated Press account of a recent ceremony in which the governor signed one of the strongest rejections so far of the federal law known as Real ID.

Montana is justly proud of being at the forefront of a national rebellion against an anti-immigrant measure the Republican Congress passed in 2005 that would turn state-issued driver's licenses into national identity papers through a chaotic and expensive process fraught with the possibility of privacy violations and identify theft.

This rebellion is a refreshing sign that common sense can prevail even when federal officials fan fears of international terrorism and threaten citizens of recalcitrant states that they won't be able to board airplanes. Nearly a dozen other states have also formally refused to participate in the program, and more than half are debating the choice.
Go here for the rest.