Hundreds of Montanans gathered in Helena’s Capitol rotunda on Wednesday for Northern Plains’ We the People rally to protect the Montana Constitution. The event featured impassioned speeches by former Montana Governor Marc Racicot, former legislator Dorothy Bradley, and youth-focused organizer Lucy Hochschartner. Our message was loud, resolute, and unmistakable – keep Montana’s Constitution intact.
Packing the building and holding signs that read “We the People Love Montana’s Constitution” and “The MT Constitution: Don’t Mess With It!” our members and allies made a huge splash at the 68th Legislature. Almost every daily Montana newspaper featured front page coverage of the rally, amplifying our members’ voices across the state. This rally made clear that our voice will not be ignored, and our power cannot be denied.
Northern Plains board member Kris Glenn served as the event’s emcee, leading the crowd with rousing cheers that boomed throughout the building including “It ain’t broke… so don’t fix it!” Glenn infused the rally with passion and humor, keeping the crowd laughing and cheering as she moved through a lineup of marquee speakers. The first scheduled speaker was Dorothy Bradley, a former Montana legislator who served for 16 years, including terms before and after the 1972 Constitution was drafted and ratified by a delegation of everyday Montanans, none of whom were politicians. Bradley recounted how the new Constitution had broken the stranglehold of corporate corruption, leading to greater transparency and accountability within our government.
Lucy Hochschartner, an elite athlete and youth-focused organizer, was the next speaker. She spoke about the responsibility we share to protect our Constitutional so that future generations can thrive with the same rights and freedoms Montanans enjoy today.
The final rally speaker was former Montana Governor and Attorney General Marc Racicot. Racicot provided a broad history of the dedication and resolve required of the Constitution’s drafters to create such a transformational document imbued with the highest ideals of freedom, democracy, and trust in one another. He encouraged attendees to look past the forces that foment division with a plea for Montanans to work together in defense of our shared rights and freedoms.
“We should begin our constitutional vigil in the same way the delegates to the convention over 50 years ago began their historic work: by presuming the best of one another and remembering that a people who cannot talk or listen to 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,” said Racicot.
After Governor Racicot’s speech, Kris Glenn directed the crowd of hundreds to visit both the House and Senate chambers to make their presence known to Montana’s legislators.
“We are fiercely proud of our Constitution, written by Montanans to serve Montanans,” said Glenn before leading attendees to the lawmakers’ chambers. “For more than half a century, it has faithfully protected our freedoms, rights, and people. It has protected us, and now it is our turn to protect it.”
NOTE: You can watch a video of the entire rally online by clicking here, courtesy of the Montana Public Affairs Network (MPAN) YouTube channel.