Montana billionaire Greg Gianforte has not officially declared his candidacy to run for Governor, but it is an open secret that Republicans have pegged him as their preferred candidate to unseat Democratic Governor Steve Bullock. Republicans are excited because Gianforte has almost unlimited financial resources and because they believe they can tout his financial success as a selling point. However, the GOP may have to reconsider their choice after audio surfaced with Gianforte implying that Social Security should be abolished and that people should be forced to work until they die.
There’s nothing in the Bible that talks about retirement. And yet it’s been an accepted concept in our culture today. Nowhere does it say, ‘Well, he was a good and faithful servant, so he went to the beach.’ It doesn’t say that anywhere.”
The example I think of is Noah. How old was Noah when he built the ark? 600. He wasn’t like, cashing Social Security checks, he wasn’t hanging out, he was working. So, I think we have an obligation to work. The role we have in work may change over time, but the concept of retirement is not biblical.
Montana Bible College has since removed the audio of Gianforte’s speech from their web page, but Samantha Lachman at Huffington Post preserved a 47 second audio clip capturing his remarks.
Republicans may continue to stand behind the eccentric right-wing billionaire since they seem to think anyone who has a lot of money is somehow uniquely virtuous and therefore qualified to hold political office. Nevertheless, its hard to imagine that Gianforte can survive his comments attacking social security recipients as lazy loafers, in a state where retirees make up a significant portion of the electorate and a key voting bloc that Republicans must carry decisively to win statewide races.
While Montana Republicans like to portray themselves as “live and let live” libertarian types, their continued embrace of Gianforte’s religious extremism calls into question the party’s commitment to reason and liberty. Gianforte’s Foundation is a major financial backer for the creationist museum in Glendive, Montana that argues that the earth is just 6,000 years old and that dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the same time.
Gianforte also lobbied vociferously against a non-discrimination ordinance in Bozeman, Montana in 2014. Fortunately, the city passed the ordinance to protect LGBT residents from discrimination over Gianforte’s objections.
In a red-leaning state like Montana, Republicans always have an opportunity to win races no matter how awful their candidates are. However, telling workers they should never be allowed to retire and that they should never collect the benefits they earned from a lifetime of labor, will be a tough sell even in a red state. Greg Gianforte thinks Noah was still working construction and herding dinosaurs at the ripe old age of 600, but if he wants to raise the retirement age to 601 before people can be eligible to collect earned benefits, I doubt he will find many supporters to back his ludicrous point of view.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.