Well, damn. The Washington Post has discovered Western Montana, where I live. That can’t be good.
In a story headlined “Small towns are dying everywhere but here,” reporter David J. Lynch writes about Hamilton, Montana, as if it were Brigadoon. Since the headline is misleading at best, it was changed in the free SFGate version I’m using to “Small towns find footing out West.” Either way, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Hamilton is indeed a thriving community, one of the most conservative in Montana and a wonderful place to live. There are several such cities in Montana, including Kalispell, where I live, but these are exceptions not the rule. Montana has plenty of dying towns too — the small towns on the Great Plains that offered opportunity and prosperity to generations of immigrants and frontier families. The timber towns in our national forests. The coal and mining towns like Colstrip and Anaconda. Most of those towns were made economically unfeasible by federal rules and policies that didn’t care about Montana, just about votes in big cities.
We in Montana have proudly called our state “The Last Best Place” for a couple of generations now, but the writing is on the wall. We were the last best place because we were the last place to run to in order to get away from what had corrupted the rest of the places in the United States, but inevitably the last best place becomes the home of the last stand as those corrupting forces overtake us and overwhelm us.
That’s what places like Hamilton worry about. There are a few growing towns like Hamilton and Kalispell that will attract enough immigrants from California and Washington and the Midwest to keep growing, but at what price?
The liberals who move here to escape the nightmare of the Democrat-run cities like San Francisco and Chicago inevitably import with themselves the very ideas and policies that they are trying to run from. Hamilton will always be a great place to live compared to those big cities, but it will not always be a refuge. Chances are that someday it will turn into Jackson Hole or Fort Collins — another playground for the rich and famous.
HeartlandDiaryUSA.com hosts the commentary of Frank Miele, former editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Montana. Your support for this blog is appreciated. Please consider purchasing one of my books at Amazon. My new book is “The Media Matrix: What If Everything You Know Is Fake?” — a look at Fake News from the perspective of a small-town newspaper editor. In addition, my “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy documents the downward spiral of the USA that made Trump’s presidency so important. The books are available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions. Go here for a free sample of “The Media Matrix”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/sitb/B07PDQBJM4