It always seems that the first Sunday of January every other year blows a storm in for at least part of the day. Dust and dirt fly, trash rolls down streets, discarded Christmas trees pile up at the end of alleys and from the four cardinal points come some 150 guests who will call Helena home for the next four months. Some first timers come filled with naïve good intentions, then there are the second and third termers who understand the game and their small role, and last but by no means least, senators turned representatives and vice versa who do their damnedest to keep the session on the rails to the bitter end. All well and good in predictable times, but we haven’t felt that sense of comfort in a while.
Despite a global pandemic, despite science, and despite technology that can allow a legislative session to move forward while protecting everyone involved, the Capital doors will open. And yet no one knows the plan, mostly because there really isn’t one. Montana’s new governor has raised his hand and taken his oath in a very small ceremony and then insist that the show must go on. Pay no attention to the fact that former Congressman Gianforte has already been vaccinated. Then again, as the wealthiest man to have ever bought a Montana election, he certainly could have just paid his way to the front of the line.
But the rumor is that he actually has a plan. Gianforte has openly talked about taking front line vaccines and giving every legislator a dose in the arm so they are safe to go on about their business and getting those 3000 bill drafts out for a hearing. But think about this. Much mockery has already been made of senators and representatives on the national scene who have made so much noise about the hoax that is the virus, or bullied citizens living in fear, or think that frontline workers who are too exhausted to go on just aren’t dedicated enough. But now it’s Montana’s turn as the likes of Derek Skees and Theresa Manzella pull up a sleeve to expose their ghoulish, translucent skin for a shot, despite their fear of a microchip hidden in the thick serum.
In case your stomach hasn’t turned yet, you should also know that all 150 legislators, even the ones whose greatest dream is to see government fail and fade away, get to step in line for free government health care. Yes, FREE! By simply being elected each legislator can now sign up for health insurance through the State of Montana at the cost to taxpayers of $1054 per month for the duration of their term in office and maybe more if unions bargain a higher amount down the road. Almost forgot, they also have front of the line privileges at the state employee health clinic down street. Smells a lot like socialism doesn’t it?
So what will richest man in the governor’s office do? Will he commander 150 doses to prop up the herd on the third floor? Or will he save every valuable drop for workers who patiently wait for the next covid case to come through the hospital door, who teach in a classroom, the paraprofessional tasked with restraining an autistic student, the 67 year old lunch lady who provides the most nutritious meal some students see in a day, the police officers assigned to patrol a freedom rally or at risk citizens of Montana who don’t have the luxury of never worrying about how much their next paycheck will be? Safest bet? Catch the mass legislative inoculation in the rotunda, but never mind that legislative staff because so many Montanans will gladly take their jobs when they finally tip over.
‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’