Last week, the University of Montana’s Mansfield Center hosted former Montana Governor Marc Racicot who presented a lecture addressing the current political climate and the possible end of democracy in America.

The event was hosted by new UM Provost Pardis Mahdavi and moderated by Capitol reporter Chuck Johnson.

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Racicot began by expressing his concern over the present state of political discourse in the U.S.

“For quite some period of time now, at least over the last several years, and particularly during 2020, I've had a growing concern about what it is that's happening to our democracy,” began Governor Racicot. “I've thought about its origin and how it has weathered all of these years and how that has unfolded and ultimately came to some steadfast conclusions in my own mind in my own conscience that we were in a moment of great peril in this country.”

Racicot referenced the riot at the U.S. Capitol building as a turning point.

“I think that if you take a look at everything from the rhetoric, to the discussions that take place to political campaigns, and then ultimately realizing what occurred on January 6 a year ago, that there are many people across the country and here in the state of Montana, who also have a genuine concern about the possibilities for our democracy to be damaged to the point of disappearing,” he said.

Racicot continued his lament over the current state of politics.

“When you take a look at what it is that we see and hear virtually every day, with the exchanges that occur between parties between candidates, the critiques that take place, the kind of inability to be able to even talk to each other, to listen to each other to reason together, you begin to realize just how delicate this democracy is,” he said.  “That it takes every single one of us, giving it life and breathing new life into it on occasion, and bringing to bear the kind of values and character that we think is important for those who represent us to proceed with when they're deliberating on our behalf in a representative form of government.”

Racicot also decried the introduction of millions of campaign dollars to influence voters through negative ads.

“How can you spend $160 million on a Senate race and have anything left of either candidate?” he asked. “Most of this outside intervention with ads and the kind of critiques that are made are designed by other people. It's not by the candidates. And they enter into the races through third party initiatives that the candidates have absolutely no control over. And as a consequence, they get more brutal, more difficult, more brief, and there's so much noise that by the end of the campaign people can hardly stand even think about listening to another campaign.”

Racicot closed by stating “a democracy can’t exist without the people choosing it. So, there’s a contract between the government and the people, and as a consequence of that we have to take care of it.”

The full title of Racicot’s address was Resuscitating the American Republic: Fidelity to One Another, the Cause of Freedom and the Country’s Future’. Click here to see the full presentation.

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