From the Mental Militia website here:
Chickens Coming Home to Roost
How Republicans Never Blow an Opportunity to Blow an Opportunity
People have asked me how, after more than 40 years of following and working with the Montana Legislature, I would characterize the 2013 legislative session. My answer is quick and short. RINOs. 2013 was clearly a three-party session, made up of Democrats, Republicans, and RINOs.
Our Montana “citizen legislature” is a great institution, because people from all walks of life come to Helena every two years for 90 days to do the people's business. They bring a lot of diverse experience to the Legislature. Montana avoids the “permanent political class” that so badly infects many other states.
Against this background, it's not surprising that people of all different political persuasions are elected to the Legislature, including soft Republicans who get elected in centrist districts, candidates who appeal to those districts because they are middle-of-the-road philosophically.
Many prospective candidates think that because they have 100% of all the experience they’ve had, they are wise enough to set public policy in Helena, but many, too many, have no philosophical foundation from which to assess the issues presented to them in Helena. As a result, they tend to blow in the wind, and tend to believe the last good argument made, too often by the swarms of public employee lobbyists who haunt the Legislature throughout the session angling for more money, mission, turf and power.
Among Republicans, these legislators are spoken of as RINOs, Republicans In Name Only. These legislators do not have any strong attachment to the Montana or federal constitutions. They probably have not read either constitution recently. They have no special fondness or respect for individual liberty. They care nothing about the Republican Party platform. They want to make government “work,” not understanding that government is supposed primarily to protect individual liberty, but is also the greatest threat to individual liberty.
When Republicans control the Legislature, a small subset of RINOs control public policy in Montana, because the RINOs repeatedly side with Democrats both to block liberty-enhancing bills, and to pass bills that give more mission, turf, money and power to governmental entities.
This is not new. It is actually a situation deliberately fostered by the Montana Republican good-old-boy establishment, those GOP “leaders” and would-be power brokers who plan and massage GOP direction behind the scenes in the legendary “smoke-filled rooms.”
A lot of bills brought by conservative Republican legislators never made it to the Governor's desk because of blockage by RINOs. Most of the ones that did have been vetoed by Governor Bullock, who can count on having enough supporting Democrat and RINO votes to prevent any veto override.
Further, the good-old-boy Republican establishment worked hard and deliberately to set up this arrangement. They actually pulled out the stops to usher Bullock into the Governor's office.
It all began at the state Republican convention in 2012. Liberty-minded Republicans (real conservatives) had rallied behind presidential candidate Ron Paul, and sought to elect Ron Paul-aligned delegates to the national GOP convention in Florida. The Montana GOP good-old-boys went into lock-step in support of Mitt Romney. They played dirty, told lies, broke all reasonable rules of fairness, and leaned heavily on the scales to absolutely shut out the 47% of convention delegates who supported Ron Paul. They grabbed all the marbles for themselves.
Some might claim that was clever politicking. I name it sheer stupidity applying juvenile, schoolyard tactics to supposedly adult activities. Any person with a grain of sense could have predicted (as I did then) that giving a bloody nose to 47% of the Republican Party, and by far the most energized 47% of the Republican Party, would not end well for Republican candidates in Montana. It most assuredly did NOT end well. It ended with Democrat Steve Bullock occupying the governor’s office, and then vetoing scads of Republican bills.
I predicted immediately after witnessing the debacle of the convention that the result of so overtly rejecting a significant and energized segment of the Republican Party would be a narrow loss by several Republican contenders for statewide office. That's exactly what happened in the governor's race. Democrat Bullock won with a lead of 7,571 votes over Republican Hill. The Libertarian, Vandevender pulled 18,160 votes. It's a cinch bet that the deciding 3,790 or more votes went from Hill to Vandevender because of the brazen and deliberate abuse of liberty-minded Republicans by the GOP establishment at the state convention.
Actions have consequences. The ripples spreading throughout Montana from the 2012 GOP state convention, from the juvenile antics of the good-old-boy Republicans who snatched all the marbles for themselves, cost Hill and the GOP the governor’s office.
Not surprisingly, the same RINOs who messed up the 2013 legislative session with their lack of philosophical foundation and last-good-argument policy positions stampeded to go along with the good-old-boy Republican establishment at the state Republican convention. They were happy to tolerate and support the GOP insiders who leaned heavily on the scales and pulled dirty tricks in what turned out to be a strategically disastrous rout of the liberty-minded Republicans.
In this exercise, the Montana Republican Party surely rose to the challenge of never blowing an opportunity to blow an opportunity, a pattern for which Republicans have become famous. Many good Republican bills were vetoed by a governor who was effectively installed by the foolish machinations of a few Republican “leaders,” but which direction was heavily supported in the state GOP convention by the same legislators who's bills Bullock has now vetoed, especially by the RINOs.
Talk about chickens coming home to roost.
There is a lesson in this recent history. Those Republican “leaders” who are so afraid of liberty-minded Republicans should themselves be rejected by the GOP as a whole. They are the best allies the government-loving Democrats could hope to have. Unless the GOP unloads these short-sighted dealmakers, it might as well just surrender the field to the Democrats and let them run Montana.
Gary Marbut, Delegate
2012 Republican State Convention
Active observer of the Montana Legislature since 1971