Op Ed: Getting back on track requires fundamental values

From the Billings Gazette
October 3 2023

There’s something special about the start of high school football season here in Montana. The smell of fresh cut grass, the sounds of the pep band playing the school song, the chill in the air when the sun sets as the Friday night lights turn on. And as the season begins, the hopeful anticipation of players, coaches and fans for a successful season can be felt at every playing field across the state.

By October, some teams will be off to a good start, while other teams will be struggling and needing to figure out how to make adjustments to turn their seasons around.

When I played high school football growing up in Deer Lodge, getting a game or season back on track usually meant returning to fundamentals — hustling on every play, wrapping up on tackles, protecting the football, and addressing unwelcome drama or distractions to ensure team unity.

Those very same lessons of football teams getting back to fundamentals to adjust and change course also apply to our country right now. America and Americans need a course change from the dysfunctional politics of our time. How do we do it? Former President Theodore Roosevelt said, “The problems differ from generation to generation, but the qualities needed to solve them remain unchanged from world’s end to world’s end.” The answer is in the people who lead us.

America is facing a host of problems, from an economy that hasn’t helped everyone, to a stupendous national debt of 32 trillion dollars. Politicians in Washington have lacked the willpower to try to find consensus on how to balance our budget while still meeting our needs. Watching the news about the political dysfunction can make one feel hopeless about the future.

Unfortunately, in Washington today we have too many extremists on both sides of the aisle who focus on advancing a rigid partisan ideology, getting interviews on partisan-leaning 24/7 news networks and demonizing the other half of the citizenry with different political views than they have. Even now we have members of Congress recklessly threatening to shut down the government so they can score a few more political points. This approach isn’t leadership. But it is a major reason we’re in the current political quagmire we’re in right now.

While the problems we face are very real, I believe we can still solve them — if we elect leaders with certain fundamental core values. Just like on the football field, we need a return to fundamentals. We need leaders who have character and are principled, who support the constitution and rule of law no matter the political winds, who strive to unify us instead of divide us, who are willing to listen to their constituents — all of them, who will treat with dignity and respect those they may disagree with and who are willing to work thoughtfully and with courage for the good of our country and our state.

If we really want to get the country back on the right track, those are fundamental values our leaders must have to be able to solve America’s problems. We must seek out those values in those we choose when we go to the ballot box next June and November.

Copyright © 2023 Joel Krautter for Montana

Paid For By Joel Krautter for Montana