Monday, July 16, 2007

Why is Billings so much like Billings?

I'm interested in collecting thoughts on the difficulty (or ease) of exciting political activism in Billings. My read is that it's much tougher here than most places, but I haven't lived in most places. Can anyone enlighten me?

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's history. Billings is a cow town. Full of cowboys. Cowboys lead a simple life. They drink, get in fights, and try like hell to get laid. And politics can't do much for those ambitions. Whereas Butte, Great Falls, even Missioula, where much more union oriented. Miners, loggers, etc. No such thing as Cowboys Local 108 that I'm aware of. And now, Billings is a cowtown full of californians. Heckuva deal.

LK

Free Market said...

Billings lacks a huge state-supported class of nincompoops, such as are found in Bozeman, Helena, and Missoula.

Chuck Rightmire said...

This town has just been too business oriented. It will give away the downtown district, if it would bring in a dollar. And it has always been in self denial so that the powers that be would always put the clamps to anything that smacked of political activism. It has reared its head on occasion, but after a while the activists get tired and the apathy takes over.

David said...

And by nincompoop, you mean ... ?

Anonymous said...

Why do people move to Billings? Seems to me most come for a job. Plus maybe family here or nearby.

It's a generalization, but it seems to me that places full of activists are also full of people who arrived for other reasons -- recreation, community, architecture, and/or perhaps education -- and then found a job so they could stay.

In such places you can excite political activism by identifying a threat to the reason people arrived.

Maybe in Billings you could excite activism if the jobs were threatened... but maybe people would just move to where the jobs were.

Pete said...

I believe Billings best represents the entire state of Montana. Missoula, where I live, sure as hell doesn't. Billings has a little bit of everything that makes up Montana: cowboys and Indians, businessmen, the service sector and blue collar workers, government employees, some students, even the occasional hippie, the wealthy and the impoverished, etc., etc. In statewide elections, the results from Billings mirror those that come from the rest of the state. As I've said in other posts at other times: as goes Billings, so goes the state.

Dave Rye said...

Spoken like a guy who has never had to meet a payroll, Chuck, nor deal directly with the burdens
of federal and state regulations.

How can a town be too business oriented? Capitalism is the essence of freedom: willing buyer, willing seller, and usually plenty of competitors if the buyer doesn't like the deal the seller is offering.

Free Market's answer is accurate, despite David's skepticism. Even during those cyclical periods when the voters are drifting rightward, political activism is almost always on the Left. Righties are busy tending to and trying to improve their own lives. Lefties think it's some kind of duty of government to do it FOR them.

Billings is too busy being productive to pay much attention to public malcontents, who crave attention as much as they crave whatever they perceive to be social justice.

Eric said...

David, there's a lot of apathy here.

You & I are in the same precinct, and while we both vote, our voter turnout for this falls municipal election would be about 10%. Maybe the mail-in ballot will help.

Free Market said...

Nincompoop: Fool, simpleton; anyone over age 12 who thinks money grows on trees. Nincompoops tend to gravitate toward large, taxpayer supported institutions, such as state universities, courthouses, Forest Service offices, etc. The largest concentrations of nincompoops will usually be found in cities that are also state capitals.

Nincompoop Activism: The promotion of any idea that is contrary to common experience or common sense, has already been proven a failure, or relies upon junk science or statistical correlations; esp. any proposed plan or program that claims to have no cost.

David said...

So by nincompoop you mean soldiers, law enforcement officers and firefighters, all of whom work for large taxpayer-supported institutions? No wonder you prefer anonymity.

Montana Headlines said...

Billings is a town that frowns on anything conspicuous, ostentatious, or in-your-face.

This ranges from a quiet disapproval of conspicuous consumption to a distaste for overly partisan or activist politics.

One hopes that Billings never becomes a center of left-wing activism -- because then we would have to have right-wing activism to counter it.

And none of us would get very much fishing done.

Anonymous said...

So how is Harrison Fagg's latest free market republican capitalist project-The Sandstone, going anyway?


or was that another Billings pie in the sky proposal like so many others that died due lack of government money?

Chuck Rightmire said...

Actually, Dave, as I recall your history you haven't met many payrolls or argued with government rules and regulations any more than I have. Maybe I shouldn't have said business oriented, although that's part of it. One of Billings "things" has always been that it is "star" oriented. I remember years ago when I had some things to do with musical events in this town, when we brought in a super star, like Gillespie with the bent trumpet we filled the Fox. When we brought in the drummer Rich, who was also a jazz star, but not as big, we had it only about two-thirds full.

And I would suggest that the activism is just as active on the right, only here we call it the status quo. If you actively keep the lid on, then it's still activism.

Dave Rye said...

Guilty as charged on the personal history part, Chuck, but I always considered the person who signed the front of my paycheck to be my friend----even if he (or she) wasn't ever as much of a friend as I wanted that person to be.

Chuck Rightmire said...

Good response, Dave. I agree with your last sentence wholeheartedly.

Anonymous said...

Billings is so much like Billings because most people are too busy just tryig to survive in a service economy town to be engaged in political activism. Most of the political activism in Billings is done by well paid professionals like MCV and NPRC.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if Rye meant it, but his reaction to people who speak up...speaks volumes: Speaking up in Billings does = branding as a malcontent.

Paul Whiting said...

So why isn't Sicko being shown here? I'm not surprised... because this is Billings. Where's the freedom of choice for the consumer in this case? Looks like the decision was made by the business people, they have decided what we shall see or not see. Largest city in the state and we can't see it. This is Billings.

tjg said...

I suppose it all depends on what you call "activism." I think there are a lot of people (never enough) who are very active in their neighborhood task forces. At the regional meeting of the St. Vincent DDePaul Society which I atttended a few weeks ago, I think the out-of-towners were quite impressed wity the efforts Billings activists have in assisting people with the Food Bank, finding affordable housing, and generally looking out for our fellow humans. I call that activism.

Mark T said...

I do agree with Paul that Billings has a hyper-oppressive business class, and this affects public discourse, the newspaper, and the minority interests. It's rule by the Chamber, and uniform gray.

I do remember in 2000 going door-to-door collecting signatures for Nader and being surprised at the support there - hundreds of people people were willing to sign a petition*, and two thousand of them voted for him. There is an undercurrent there, though it seldom shows its face.

(*And yes, a few of the Nader signers were Republicans who wanted to hurt the Democrats, but not many. One gal thought it was for Rob Natelson. I didn't set her straight.)