By Ron VandenBoom
Congressional Republican Rep. Dennis Rehberg brought a message of political involvement to a class of quiet and attentive Havre High School students this morning during a brief stop-over in Havre.
"If you don't vote," Rehberg said, "you won't be able to implement change."
Rehberg told Charlie Klimas' government class that the youth of today have a lot to offer the future, but a lack of political involvement could jeopardize that.
"If we decided to make school mandatory 24 hours a day and you didn't like the idea," he told the class, "if you didn't vote, there's nothing you could do about it."
Answering a student's question about America's recent attack on Iraq, Rehberg told the class their interests are also at stake in this issue because "the war in Vietnam was not fought by old people, it was fought by the young."
"If we go to war," he said. "It's not me that's going to fight it, it's you and we don't want to put you in harm's way."
Rehberg went on to explain that Iraq was "testing the metal" of the new president and that oil and America's opposition to dictators were the reasons America did what it did.
He told the class America's economy and security were dependent on foreign oil and when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait it was done to protest America's oils interests and prevent a dictator from becoming too powerful.
Students also queried Rehberg about what he intends to do to improve America's military.
Rehberg told the students the first bill he introduced on arriving in Congress was a bill to up salaries of military personnel by $150 per month.
President George W. Bush supports the bill, Rehberg said.
Montana's economy was also an issue for one student.
Rehberg said Montana's economy was changing and is no longer the natural resource based. He added that it is up to the government to create an atmosphere that is positive to the change.
"Government doesn't create jobs, people do," Rehberg said.
He told the class that it is government's job to create opportunity for job development and impose fewer regulations and taxes that limit economic growth.
"The people can do it if the government stays out of the way and doesn't screw things up," he said.
Rehberg also told the student that he does not favor school vouchers and instead would like to see a tax credit that would allow parents a benefit without hurting public education.
"No child should be left behind," he said.