University of Montana
Montana state representative
Daniel Zolnikov is a state representative for Montana. As a 27 year old, Daniel is one of the legislators who understands the threats and concerns of the collection of personal information. He has sponsored multiple bills, including two pieces of privacy legislation. The first bill would have created the Montana Privacy Act. The second bill, which was signed into law, prevented law enforcement from obtaining cell phone location information without a warrant. For the sake of transparency, he uses his Facebook page (www.facebook.com/danielzolnikov) to post his votes.
Why is it important that at this particular point in time, right-of-center youth become involved publicly–whether in politics, media, their communities, or another capacity?
While in high school, I did a report on the national debt and its continuous growth. Since then, it has taken less than 10 years for this debt to double. While printing and spending money at an ever-increasing rate, it seems that the United States has continued to fall from grace at a faster pace than ever before. I don’t believe future generations will be left with the bill. I think it will be our generation that will have to pay up, or deal with the consequences. If we aren’t already in trouble, we will be soon if we don’t start recognizing the unaffordable long-term liabilities that we are getting strapped with. The worst part is that the continuous spending for short-term solutions has not solved one single problem within the United States that we won’t have to deal with later. I strongly believe we all have a role to play — be it by running for office, managing campaigns, writing blogs, raising money, or creating awareness.
What must elected officials and others in positions of leadership do to make a right-of- center message resonate with the Millennial generation?
As an elected official, it is my job to share a message with other members of my generation in a way that is obtainable, applicable, honest, and without rhetoric. On Facebook, I posted each bill I voted on and why I voted on it. Even my least politically involved friends read my posts and told me they felt like they had some type of understanding of what was going on.
I believe our generation can tell the difference between an authentic message and an empty stump speech. We are sick of politicians who act perfect and feel like they have the right to judge their fellow man. I am not perfect, no one is. We are tired of the negative messaging and the politicians who play the political game, not knowing that the political game is really playing them. We want to see someone truly stand for a cause until successful or defeated.
Where would you like to see the conservative movement in 10 years — and how can it get there?
I would like to see the conservative movement become the positive movement of self-reliance, local involvement, and financial responsibility. I would like to see our generation stop thinking the government should do something, and instead, starting asking, “What can I do?” I would like to see our generation continue to understand we will not benefit from the monstrosity our federal government has become, and that by taking the power away from the politicians and agencies, we may hand the reins of responsibility back to the people. I would like to see our generation realize that the overwhelming debt we have accumulated will likely be the largest national security issue we ever face in the future.