Former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot warns republic is at risk
Former Gov. Marc Racicot speaks at a Montana Taxpayers Association meeting at the Great Northern Hotel, on Dec. 8, 2021, in Helena, Mont. The Republican said there are serious warning signs that the U.S. Constitution and republic are at risk. (Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP)
| December 21, 2021 7:00 AM
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot warned that fidelity is in jeopardy in America, not only in regard to the state and national constitutions, but to the country's spirit as well. He also said there are serious warning signs that the U.S. Constitution and republic are at risk.
"The most probable way for our republic to vanish is through a lack of honor and fidelity. Not surprisingly that is precisely what is required by our constitutional oath of office," he said in a recent speech that brought a standing ovation from nearly 100 people attending the 100th annual meeting of the Montana Taxpayers Association recently at the Best Western Premier Helena Great Northern Hotel.
"I don't want to preach, so I am hopeful that I won't appear pretentious, but with all that has dramatically changed with the political and social fabric of our lives in this last decade and a half – much for the worse – in my judgment, I would confess that I sometimes feel like I am diagonally parked in a parallel universe," Racicot, a Republican, said, according to the Independent Record.
"Maybe the old adage is true, that inside every older person is a younger person who wondered what happened," he said.
He said the Montana Constitution requires an oath for any any public office and asked what the framers had in mind when they chose "fidelity" as the guiding principle for appropriate behavior from anyone who holds public office.
Racicot, 73, said fidelity is faithfulness to a person, cause, belief and country. He said it is demonstrated by loyalty and support without self-aggrandizement, deceit, trickery or obfuscation. He said it also includes humility, respect of others and the rights of others, decency, integrity, honor, self-discipline, selflessness, self-examination and just common courtesy.
"Fidelity is the exact opposite of seeking power for its own sake, which as history reveals, at the end of the day, is really a fool's errand," Racicot said.
"Without accepting, embracing and discharging one's duties as guided by fidelity, it is inevitable that the life of our republic will over time, like grains of sand passing through an hourglass, be at risk."
Racicot served as Montana's attorney general from 1989 to 1993 and as governor from 1993 to 2001. He was chair of the Republican National Committee from 2002 until 2003. He was then chief executive officer of the American Insurance Association from 2005 to 2009. He sparked headlines in September 2020 when he said during an interview on Yellowstone Public Radio he would vote for Democrat Joe Biden for president, citing character flaws in then-President Donald Trump.
Racicot said the life of this nation is dependent upon everyone taking care of and nurturing democracy daily.
"A people who cannot talk or listen to each other, who do not respect each other, who will not sincerely consider the thoughts of each other, who do not trust each other and who cannot reason with each other, cannot long live in freedom," Racicot said.
He said many grew up in an America where being a neighbor meant more than living next door. He said there was a shared positive attitude about life, neighbors, families and values.
"We expected the best of each other until proven wrong," he said.
Racicot said that should be contrasted with the awkward, thoughtless, mean and frequently inaccurate public communications of today where 360,000 Tweets per minute hit social media.
"That's how much of the country and much of the world talks to each other these days," he said. "It's dizzying, it's vacuous and it's perilous."
Racicot said the chances of people with diverse views sitting across the table and talking with others about how to solve difficult problems have been substantially diminished and replaced with mindless electronic rituals that produce more confusion than understanding.
"It seems almost impossible to me to manage the noise, to control the flood of unverified and frequently inaccurate communications, conceived in anger and competition and then regretted because of all the blathering that is now a matter of public record," he said.
"How is it that we stop this runaway train as it picks up speed and leaves scattered all over the landscape so much destruction and damage along the way?"
Racicot said the internet is a marvelous creation, but it has also strained people's social existence, especially in political affairs with irresponsible suggestions that have no basis in fact.
"We have to bring more discipline and integrity to our communications and comments," he said.
This needs to be done to fulfill the requirements of fidelity to one another, the cause of freedom and future of the country.
"The alternative is to witness our way of life being torn apart at the seams," he said. "It's not really a big ask. I am not asking for a return to simpler times. I am calling hopefully for return to simple timeless and enduring values: presuming the best of each the other, listening in good faith before acting or responding, exuding magnanimity and self-correcting our own mistakes."
Much more can be accomplished by shunning rhetorical games of yesteryear, now magnified and given eternal life by the internet, he said.
"I'm suggesting that we focus on caring and listening to each other, gathering the facts before we make up our minds and then actually fixing our society's problems rather than being distracted by flashing lights and engaging in the to and fro of never ending, instantaneous, bitter and all too often mean and careless electronic communications that can be sent with the speed of light with a silent click to every corner of the planet Earth and beyond…"
He said democracy is a voluntary association of individuals.
"We choose it," Racicot said, adding the country faces a crucial struggle to preserve our society from within.
He said he believes the majority of Americans are tired of the intramural wars and the divisions.
"Let us abandon the fruitless and solitary search for power and control and get about fixing the problems, with fidelity -- so help me God."