Is anyone else getting tired of whiney Republicans? The most recent example is an editorial sent across the state by 57 Republican Legislators (including Great Falls Legislators Wendy McKamey, Scott Kerns, Jeremy Trebas, Steve Gist, Steven Gallloway and Ed Buttrey). Their complaint is, once again, a screed against the judiciary. Didn’t any of them take 8th grade civics classes? What part of “checks and balances” don’t they understand?
This time around they are griping that a judge found several laws passed by the last legislature unconstitutional. The laws in question make it more difficult for people to vote. Why make voting in Montana more difficult? As usual, they trot out false arguments about voter fraud which have been proven repeatedly to be fake news. This is part of an effort by the Republican Party to undermine our faith in elections because Donald Trump lost the last one. . . never mind that Montana Republicans won all the state-wide offices and picked up many legislative seats in the last election. It’s ironic that so many Republican legislators think their own victory was rigged by Democrats.
Republicans in the last legislature repeatedly demanded confidential documents from the Montana Supreme court, which the court refused to provide. So, the legislature enlisted Republican Attorney General, Austen Knudsen, to complain on their behalf, taking their case all the way to the US Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case. It was a complete waste of resources to assert the legislature’s inflated view of their own power.
It’s bad enough that they waste time and money on these efforts to protect and preserve their power, but every time they lose, they revert to slinging insults like school yard bullies. In this last editorial they say the judge they disagree with is an “activist judge who doesn’t like common sense.” They go on to accuse the judge of being part of an imagined conspiracy, stating, “Judge Moses unilaterally blocked all these commonsense laws at the request of the Montana Democratic machine.” Quite an accusation considering the Republicans are in complete control of state government.
As a part of their continuing war with the judiciary, the Republican legislature eliminated the Judicial Nominating Commission so that Republican Governor Greg Gianforte could appoint whoever he pleases to judicial vacancies. Once again, the Republicans complained about being treated unfairly by “activist judges.” And, as a result, handed complete power to appoint judges to their Republican pal in the Governor’s office.
Many people think this is all just political posturing. That’s true. But the Republicans are preoccupied with creating smoke where there is no fire. While they are pointing fingers at the liberal judiciary, they whine about the border wall, wolves stalking our mountains, gays, trans, antifa, and socialists behind every tree, they are ignoring real problems that affect the day to day lives of Montanans.
Where is their concern about the fact that the Warm Springs State Hospital is failing the patients it is meant to take care of? What are they doing for farmers and ranchers who face manipulated and unfair prices for their products? What are they doing about the thousands of people who can’t find affordable housing? What about replacing and maintaining our aging infrastructure? These are serious issues, but Republicans don’t talk much about them.
Instead, Republicans are taking books out of local libraries, telling school boards what to teach in history class, arguing about masks, and promoting myths about election fraud. At the end of the day, these things have little to do with the quality of life here in Montana. The serious problems we face will not be addressed by the whining of overblown, self-important Republican legislators.
Ken Toole is a former state senator and former vice Chair of the Montana Public Service Commission. He is now retired and lives on an off-grid farm south of Great Falls.