A Lesson from Sven and Ole

Guest Opinion

Some readers, especially those with Scandinavian heritage, may be familiar with the stories of Sven and Ole. I grew up hearing them from my late grandfather. One story comes to mind in the context of our current political climate.

Sven and Ole, were two farmers with neighboring farms who had always been very competitive. Ole's father had always been a Ford man, and the bigger the better, especially the F-350s. So, of course, Ole grew up as a Ford man, too! Sven's father had always been a Chevy man, and he loved those big Silverados. Sven kept up the tradition as a Chevy man, too.

One day, as Sven and Ole were both attending the local livestock auction, they argued about who had the strongest, toughest truck. They finally decided to settle the dispute by hooking a towrope up to the hitch of each pickup, to see who could pull the other guy in his direction. Once in position, they each gave their trucks the gas.

Of course, we know who won. It was the local parts dealer who sells ropes and transmissions.

Much like Sven and Ole, today we have politicians pulling our country apart.

Traveling around eastern and central Montana, people tell me they're frustrated with the dysfunction in Washington, D.C. ABC News recently reported the "118th Congress (was) on track to become one of the least productive in US history." And Republican Congressman Chip Roy of Texas took to the House floor to challenge "One thing: I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing-one-that I can go campaign on and say we did. One!"

That resonates with all Montanans, regardless of one's political stripes.

How do we move away from today's chaos and return to the stability that has powered American prosperity? One of my political heroes pointed the way. In 2017, the late Republican senator, war hero and political maverick, John McCain, called for a return to regular order, compromise and open legislative processes.

Count me in on that. Regular order in Congress would require a bill to go through the normal committee process, hearings, amendments, and then the full legislative body for additional debate. That is the way our democratic system of separation of powers and checks and balances is designed to work. That is why we elect representatives.

Another solution for our U.S. Congress is something already done at the Montana legislature, thanks to our Montana Constitution, single subject legislation. Single subject legislation ensures greater transparency and can limit the growth of government, by allowing bills to pass or fail on their own merits, rather than having lawmakers try to work on multiple bills packaged together into a massive Omnibus bill.

However, returning to the stability of the past ultimately depends on whom we elect. Candidates who follow the example of Sven and Ole, of spinning the tires, burning out the motor, and giving off a lot of pointless smoke and noise will only add to the chaos. To find stability again we must choose candidates who put the Constitution first, reject chaos and extremism and will work for the good of all their constituents.


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