When I first went out to Montana in 2000, most people I knew in politics had no idea who Brian Schweitzer was, much less that he had a shot to win a statewide office in the then-red Rocky Mountain West. When I told my book publisher I was going to devote a whole chapter in my new book to my time working with Schweitzer, they were intruiged. Now, thanks to Schweitzer's Democratic convention speech last night, a lot of folks understand why I've always thought he was one of the most impressive progressive political leaders around.You can watch Schweitzer's speech on energy here:The Los Angeles Times said Schweitzer "was the surprise hit of the party's national convention" garnering "rave reviews for [the] rousing speech." Newsweek called him the "highlight" of the night. And the Denver Post reported that CNN's Jeffrey Toobin declared "Schweitzer the night's real winner, the Barack Obama of '08, for his impassioned speech."With Barack Obama in Billings today for a campaign stop in Montana's now-competitive presidential contest, the Illinois senator would do well to take some populist tips from Big Sky country's governor. He might consider picking up this Washington Monthly piece I wrote about working on Schweitzer's 2004 political campaign, or checking out The Uprising, which includes a whole chapter on the governor. The kind of rural populism and left-right coalition building that Schweitzer is pioneering may have gotten some national attention last night, but it's been a powerful political force for a few years now.
David Sirota is an awardwinning investigative journalist and an In These Times senior editor. He served as speech writer for Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota.