Monday, July 29, 2019

2020 Challenger Lineup: Steve Bullock

I didn't do one of these last week partially because I just didn't get around to it and partially because there's only two left. I guess the window has probably closed for new candidates to join the party, so this series is almost done. Unfortunately, neither of the two candidates left are interesting.

Steve Bullock is the current Governor of Montana. Not good enough to be in the first debates but good enough to be on Wikipedia's list of candidates who have some outside chance of being nominated. I like that his last name is almost the British word for testicle. He went to law school, became a lawyer, then Executive Assistant Attorney General and acting Chief Deputy Attorney General of Montana, then Montana's Attorney General, then governor.

Bullock already has a PAC raising money for his campaign, getting its biggest donations from Ziff Brothers Investments. The Ziff Brothers are billionaires who inherited their wealth from their father.

Pretty much everybody reports on Bullock as being a moderate or centrist Democrat, with On The Issues calling him a "Moderate Libertarian Liberal."

He is pro-choice and worked to protect Montanans from the worst of Republican anti-choice fervor/posturing, he's fought to maintain/restore transparency in election donations, says he believes climate change is real and human-made but "Montana became the first state to halt preparations for the Clean Power Plan when the United States Supreme Court announced a stay of the plan in February 2016."

He has been good on immigration issues, including opposing a voter-approved piece of legislation that would have barred undocumented migrants from accessing any state services if it hadn't been struck down as unconstitutional. He also supported allowing Syrian refugees to be resettled in Montana and refused to send his National Guard troops to the border when Trump ordered it. He said he was "disgusted" by family separation policy and called this treatment of migrants "atrocities."

He's good on same-sex marriage and has issued an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ+ government employees and contractors. He supports net neutrality and made Montana "the first state to implement and enforce net neutrality after the FCC repeal." He is a good supporter of unions and opposes so-called "right to work" laws.

The thing that sets him apart from most of the white male Democrats running for President? He supports the death penalty in the case of crimes like "terrorism."

His campaign website has exactly one position outlines, which is called "One Big Idea" and is centered on getting money out of politics. The idea that fixing the dark money and general "rich people can just buy elections and politicians" problem will fix all other problems is understandable, but I have serious doubts and I would like to know what he will do about shit like culturally-ingrained racism, sexism, and all other bigotries once money is out of our election process.

The thing that strikes me about Bullock is that he has the actions to back up his positions. That impresses me. But it's the only thing that impresses me. The fact that "This Guy Got Republicans to Vote for a Democrat," as is the headline for a New York Times opinion piece, does not impress me.

His is also not the voice of free college or canceling student debt. It is the voice of a Democrat who has shepherded several tuition freezes for residents at the state universities, thereby minimizing the need for loans in the first place. 

Oh boy, tuition freezes! So Montanans only have to pay the same amount of a lot of money just to go to college instead of increasingly more money. Exciting!

The bottom line is that Bullock is a centrist who would at best keep us where we are now. He may be genuine about his positions, which is nice, but it's not nearly enough to make up for wanting to maintain the status quo of bullshit in the vast majority of issues. If we really did have fair, representative elections that weren't influenced by money, he would never get elected.


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