It’s a proud moment for Montanans. Democrats in the Montana House of Representatives took the opportunity, during a debate of a prominent piece of the GOP agenda, to masterfully expose the Republicans for who they really are. The Montana Lowdown has the story and the video.
Ridicule and satire are powerful political tools, especially when applied so deftly as they were yesterday, because they allow the Dems to point out the deficiencies in the GOP’s agenda in such a way threat they become absurd–even hilarious, and therefore allow them to be entertaining, and reach a wider audience.
A few highlights: In a series of tactical moves during a session of the full House of Representatives, Democrats blatantly mocked a GOP bill to require that business be transacted in gold and silver.
First master of debate Rep. Dick Barrett (D-Missoula) a professor of economics, got Rep. Bob Wagner to refuse to publicly acknowledge that “dollars” (rather than gold) even exist.
“I don’t know what other people to know as to be a dollar” said Wagner and would only call them “federal reserve notes.”
Then, Barrett proposed that money be transacted in other in-kind goods, such as chickens (a reference to Nevada Republican who, during the last election year, proposed allowing people to pay their medical bills with chickens) or coal. Next, Rep. Pat Noonan, spoke up for job creation in Butte America, by proposing Montana use a copper currency instead–a not so subtle jab at the lack of job creation on the GOP agenda, which has rather focused on extremist and downright kooky social engineering bills.
Ridicule is also effective because it’s hard for the Repubs to counter effectively - if they try to respond logically, they acknowledge the absurdity of their agenda. If they don’t respond at all, they look like their ideas are indefensible. As we saw yesterday, the tactic caused the Republican sponsor of the bill, Rep. Bob Wagner, to lose his cool, making the R’s look like hotheads, and forcing a Republican to stand up and try to defend the caucus more rationally, which can’t really be done.
If the pointed satire wasn’t enough, Rep. Betsy Hands (D-Missoula) put the final nail in the coffin when she pointed out that the new currency and the militia bill are the first steps proposed by those who advocate seceding from the union, or, as Rep. James Knox calls it “succeeding.”
Kudos to Minority Leader Jon Sesso and the leadership in the House for hitting on the perfect technique for a session such as this. Your strategy is a winning one.