Evangelizing to the far-right rather than actually representing constituents is “eroding the effectiveness of some of our elected state representatives,” says a Republican and former Montana state legislator.
Following yet another embarrassing legislative session, a panel of lawmakers have been tasked with finding “ways to restore trust, respect, faith and confidence in the legislative branch.” The panel discussed ways to keep the legislature in Helena more often (the worst nightmare of anyone who is not a sitting legislator.)
But according to one Republican there is another factor at work “eroding the effectiveness of some of our elected state representatives.” The fact that the legislature has taken over by hard-right TEA Party types. Former state legislator Carmine Mowbray writes in an op-ed in the Ravalli Republic this week that:
Citizens are feeling disenfranchised by the polarization that has resulted from hard-line positions. Most Montanans are put off by a lack of willingness to negotiate.
In each district there are those who agree with the far right. I say this as a fellow fiscal conservative and passionate free enterprise advocate. But what we are seeing now is evangelizing, rather than representing.
Mowbray suggests that “those legislators aspire to higher levels of statesmanship” and actually represent all Montana voters, not just a handful of extremist wackjobs.
Even TEA Party legislator Essmann said he’s having a tough recruiting candidates. But as the hard-right shift exacerbates the GOP’s incredible shrinking base, finding viable candidates is only going to get more difficult.
Republicans today are apparently expected to act like raving lunatics in order to avoid a primary challenge. You have to be someone willing to demand that state business be transacted in gold and silver. That citizens should be publicly spanked for their crimes. You have to be willing to demand that the president produce his birth certificate, be affiliated with militia groups or attend a bible school that teaches people how to bring the dead back to life. To dig through the garbage of the poor to try to find evidence of them purchasing food the hardliners don’t feel they deserve. You have to be willing to deny healthcare to the working poor simply because you hate the president.
No sane, intelligent person would want to represent a party that requires its candidates and leaders to be myopic ideologues who don’t care how many people their votes harm.
This problem has been manifesting itself already in the past few elections. GOP-ers put up TEA Party poster boy Derek Skees for statewide office in 2012–with no primary opponent. Chuck Baldwin was on the ballot for Lt. Governor, as was Oathkeeper Joel Boniek.