Your View

Keep the debate constructive
Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Your View

Dear Editor,

Initiative I-186—the Clean Water Act—has received a lot of attention in these pages recently, and we can expect a lot more between now and November. That’s as it should be. This is a complex matter potentially affecting all Montanans, and voters will have to digest a lot of information before heading to the ballot box.

However, I was disappointed when a joint letter from four members of the Republican leadership began with the words “Radical environmentalists” before launching into (undocumented) charges of outside billionaires funding support for the initiative. At least Rep. Tschida waited until the second sentence of his letter before inserting the words “environmental extremists.”

This kind of name-calling is both inaccurate and unhelpful. If Montana citizens interested in clean water are indeed radicals and extremists (choose your slur), the state has suddenly acquired a remarkable number of them.

More to the point, this is a complicated matter in which both sides have legitimate concerns. I’ve certainly learned some important things from the recent flood of Stop I-186 letters, and plan to keep an open mind. Trading insults and presenting inaccurate stereotypes for political purposes does not advance that goal. (And by the way, I-186 opponents are in no position to complain about outside funding support for the initiative.)

There will be plenty to talk about between now and November. Let’s agree to do so constructively.

Don Thomas

Lewistown

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