Believe it or not, politics is broken. Voters and non-voters alike are highly disenfranchised by our current system. This is a concern for our entire country, as our Democracy can only succeed if voters keep their eye on their elected officials and governments.
I walked into politics wanting to do it different, and that is exactly what I have done.
Each election cycle, I have spent most evenings on the doors, for months on end. I have knocked the doors in my district for nearly a year of my life, talking to the voters in the district I represent. This face to face interaction is priceless, and although raising more money, and advertising may help win a race, they will not make for a better representative government. By knocking on doors, the voters know who to contact if an issue arises. Also, when I knock on doors, I hand out a piece of campaign literature that includes my personal cell phone, email, Facebook, Twitter and website. I firmly believe we cannot serve if we cannot be reached, so I have made my personal information as accessible as possible.
During the session, I have also worked to become more transparent. I post all of my House Floor votes on my Facebook page. If you have Facebook, you can get a daily update of what we are voting on in Helena, how I voted, and if the legislation passed or failed. Trust me, this information is eye-opening, and there is no other place online that more clearly shares what we are doing, day to day, in Helena. I use my Facebook page to share what I am personally working on in Helena as well. I also personally interact with individuals who are on my political Facebook page. This page can be found at www.facebook.com/danielzolnikov
When it comes to messaging, politicians tend to say less in case they might offend someone. This is not my style. I have taken some bold stances, and when attacked by the press, I almost always rebuttal with my side of the story. Taking these bold stances has also made a lot of special interests very angry, knowing that I will not scratch the backs of those who have tried to scratch my back. I may have lost lobbyist donors, but I have not lost much sleep. In the end, I know that I do not serve special interests that ask for carve outs and special laws. I serve people. Amazingly enough, my grassroots support has grown as I continue to take these bold stances, which makes me hopeful that I am doing something right!
Crossing the aisle is an interesting concept. Most people look at politics as a line, with those in the middle being moderates or compromisers, and those on the far left and far right being extremists. From my experience in Helena, I have found that this is not the case. The ones in the middle are the deal makers who will pass any legislation to get their personal agenda passed. If you look at politics as a circle, there can still be compromise from the far left and far right, with less agenda driven deals being cut and more work in areas with philosophical similarities. I have worked extremely hard to find common ground with some of the most liberal legislators. First off, I know they are principled, even if I find their beliefs to be flawed. I can respect someone who actually believes in a cause, versus those who are just serving to find power and influence. Once I figure out that another politician is principled, I can usually safely assume they are trust worthy, and aren’t for sale. From there, we can work on common ground, no matter how small it is. This is very important from my anti-cronyism perspective, because sometimes I need the support of Democrats to help remove special interest carve outs or to help fight for Freedom. Again, we may only agree 5% of the time, but when this occurs, I will do my best to push forward the solution we can agree on. An example of this is when I testified alongside a liberal legislator in support of her efforts to remove the states ability to take away the professional license and/or drivers license of a person who missed payments on their student debt. We could agree that this law allowed for too much government intervention, and through cooperation, the law was removed.
I have worked hard to make a positive change in Helena for not only the voters in my district, but for all of Montana. Always feel free to contact me regarding any issues you may have.