Collapse of government authority, factionalism within regulatory agencies, breakdown of community trust, refusal of one branch of government to recognize another, armed vigilantes, mass infection, and resulting brain drain - there is full-on state failure out here in the West.
“Third world” is problematic. “Banana republic” is offensive. This is just state collapse, American-style. The Wyoming govt got press for cutting off svcs to their small towns, but my county is bookended by two places that have it worse: the Flathead and Bitterroot Valleys.
About 150k people live between these two beautiful places. They are represented by a health board overtaken by Bundy family acolytes, a county commission too cowardly or inept to stop them, a County Attorney who denies the Executive branch’s authority,…
a State Senator who denies COVID’s lethality, & a Sheriff who’s part of the “Sovereign Citizens” movement. The good people at the Health Dept - overworked in normal times serving a pop. that thinks vaccinations are a tool of state control - cannot cope.…
Public health officials are *literally begging* those in authority to change course. But they can’t or won’t. So no one masks, gatherings are not limited in any way, and a general feeling of lawlessness prevails. As a result, people are dying of COVID.…
Its no coincidence that these places are also hotbeds of white nationalism. R*chard Sp*ncer, the bigot who coined the term “alt-right” is from Whitefish. Militia insignias are not uncommon. The public utility commissioner(!) fomented violence against BLM protesters in my town....
...and she got endorsed by my local paper for it - then unendorsed.

And I, and so many others, live among the wreckage. You could read this from afar and think “yeah, seems about right for a place like Montana” but you’d be wrong. And condescending.…
The vast majority of us out here are not white nationalists, not anti-vaxxers, not Sovereign Citizens, not militia members, nor anti-maskers.

But we are ruled by those who are. And those people are tearing down what little state authority we had out here in the first place.
“But this just sounds like Trump’s America. State failure is melodramatic - it’ll get back to normal!”

Leaving aside whether “getting back to normal” is even what we want, Montana isn’t New England. Civic institutions are simply weaker here. That’s why I say “state failure”.
Bc now I have friends who are planning to leave. As in move away. They are invariably nurses, teachers, civil servants, etc - the kind of people affected by state collapse who *also* have the financial means to escape. When this happens in other countries we call it brain drain.
But what do we call it when it happens in parts of America? And how can we help rebuild these places and their institutions so that the people who *can’t afford* to leave aren’t further preyed upon by the militias, the conspiracists, and the broken government itself?
Thumbing through your dog-eared copy of “Hillbilly Elegy”? Stop.

The communities I’m talking about are experiencing *unprecedented prosperity*. Their population is growing, building new housing and roads. They’re getting richer. All rural places aren’t Appalachia.
But that prosperity is not breeding confidence in civic institutions (let alone mask mandates) because it so so *profoundly* unequal. Seattle-ites are building million dollar COVID cabins, Glacier National Park is a perpetual traffic jam, we’re getting direct flights to LGA...
...the world has come to Montana. But if you live in Evergreen, under the flight path to the airport, the world has not brought prosperity. Housing in your small town - already scarce and unaffordable anyways - is now commodified by a nationalized property market.
Minimum wage is *half* what it takes to pay for basic necessities, college tuition for your kids is about to increase (they couldn’t handle the debt load and stay in Montana anyways) and there’s a ceiling to your success bc the economy has now pivoted almost entirely to tourism.
There is also a pandemic. But Annie Bukacek, MD is here to tell you that masks are yet another attempt by outsiders to control your life. The Sheriff - who you might know personally, as this is a small community - tells you that his local authority trumps all outside authorities.
Your State Senator denies COVID can even kill you, the local paper is endorsing a white nationalist to be in charge of regulating the power company, and public health officials are mocked for being alarmists (who, not incidentally, want to force you to wear masks).
Given all this, I would also question the utility of civic institutions - that is if I wasn’t elected to the legislature.
At the root of it all, at the root of state failure out here in the rural West, is inequality - of advancement, of opportunity - that no political party has even attempted to address.
Republicans are able to win right now - due to their noxious scapegoating of people of color - but for how long will *they* even maintain trust? And who wants to rule over the wreckage anyways but bad actors who will further victimize the communities they claim to serve?
My fellow national Democrats should take note - what happens here, out on the periphery of the American political landscape, will make its way to the center. It already has.
And the only way we can fight it is to attack the vicious inequality that is the root cause of state failure, whether in a “third world country” or here in Montana.


• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Tom Winter

Tom Winter Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @WinterForMT

15 Nov
Bolton’s a warmonger responsible for the deaths of thousands of American troops & Iraqis. Like all armchair warriors, he’s a coward who put a book advance ahead of patriotic duty during impeachment. There’s no greater indictment of the *actual* swamp than his continued relevance.
I’m sure that’s what Trump meant to say.
The fact that the trifecta of “graduating from Yale” and “being an awful person” and “grooming your facial hair like an 18th century train robber” are enough to get you access to the highest levels of government will never cease to horrify me.
Read 8 tweets
13 Nov
Maybe @helenaironline, as the paper of record for a state that gave the world Richard Spencer, could stop printing letters that minimize the Holocaust. #mtpol
Bu...bu...but....both sides tho!
All viewpoints are equally valid!
Read 7 tweets
7 Nov
Schumer saying Biden can cancel first $50,000 in student debt via executive order. And will do so in first 100 days. This will change so many lives.
Also thank you to @ewarren and her crew this is your doing :)
Also everybody please support our organizers that brought issues like this to the fore, especially those who worked in places that might not be that blue (👋 Montana #mtpol).
Read 9 tweets
31 Mar
I' a loss - up late bc I have stumbled on an unallocated supply of masks and ventilators. Connecting hospitals and orgs in my state that could use them. But I'm just a state representative - I have no expertise. How is it possible that this isn't being handled by the feds?
(Yes I contacted relevant state orgs/groups and they're doing their best). This whole "states are on their own" thing is a disaster. They're bidding against one another/the feds. Trump has completely abdicated authority, but hasn't given to anyone else. He's just...missing.
I'm watching - in real time - how all different states/hospitals/care orgs have to feed on supplies like piranhas in order to get enough for their patients. Governors are doing their best, but we need federal resource allocation. People will die bc of Trump's leadership vacuum.
Read 7 tweets
23 Mar
So this little pupper jumped in my car at the trailhead today. Wouldn’t leave. Anyone I asked (shouted to from a distance) said he had been there alone for hours in the snow. Gotta admit: He smells terrible and he made my day.
He’s really young. Skinny too, under all the fur. I’ll be calling around tomorrow to find his family. If this is your little boy let me know in the DMs.
Should this be your guy, I deliver! Beware as I will also ask if you need any canned goods/medications and whether or not you are feeling isolated.
Read 40 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!