Political centrism seems like a quaint, all-but-obsolete concept these days. We were reminded, at a recent editorial-board meeting, what centrism looks like in Montana: It has a flat top, a chambray shirt straining to maintain contact with a hidden beltline, and crow’s feet that betray a habit of smiling — and hours squinting into the sun from a tractor cab. Senator Jon Tester is not a fashion plate. He doesn’t wear $3,000 suits like some of his colleagues, or go to something called the “Met Gala” with “Tax the Rich” embroidered on his butt, like AOC. He’s from Big Sandy, Montana, and his politics still live there. He is also 29th in seniority in the United States Senate, which gives him some serious clout. And his is not a face you necessarily want to see sizing you up from behind the chairman’s microphone in a committee meeting, as though you are a quarter of beef that needs whacking up. He fights for Montana veterans, workers, farmers and Native Americans. He thinks President Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone Pipeline was “a stupid move.” He’s pro-Second Amendment but believes allowing guns in bars is “going to get people hurt.” He was a part of a bipartisan group of Senators that hammered out an agreement on what an infrastructure bill should look like. He believes we need more cops, not fewer, and also believes that training at tribal colleges would be a good idea, to make more of them Native Americans.
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