A new report ranks Montana third nationally in tea party membership as a percentage of the state’s population.
Wyoming ranked number two and Alaska had the highest percentage of TEA Partiers. Still, the report from Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights showed MT TEA Party membership was much lower than what local groups have claimed, but its not like this bunch’s other claims have had much credibility either.
It also won’t surprise you that 2/3 of TEA Partiers are male, which makes the movement about as male-dominated as a doomsday prepper dating site. Of course, no group is more patriarchal than that of GOP and TEA Party legislators. Out of 90 people with an “R” after their name currently in the legislature, only 10 are women. (The legislative website doesn’t break out men and women by party. I guess they’re hoping we won’t notice.)
The upshot of all this of course is that the war between TEA Partiers and the establishment Republicans in Montana will continue to escalate. There are already large number of primaries slated between establishment Republicans and TEA Partiers.
Last session, some juicy emails [PDF] were published by the Great Falls Tribune (which only keeps stories online for two weeks) showing the machinations of TEA Party Republicans such as Jason Priest, Jeff Essmann and Art Wittich as they tried to vanquish the establishment, led by ousted Senate President Jim Peterson. Presumably, these missives were leaked by one of the legislators in the scrum, who thought it would be good to publicize the schism.
There are some hilarious exchanges, especially from Art Wittich, the TEA Partier whose law firm represented ATP lawyer and is now under investigation in the meth house scandal for illegal collusion ATP during the last election, as Frontline reported this week.
It’s fun to observe the various leaders, or aspiring leaders, already openly agitating against the opponent faction. But it is also quite disturbing. Remember that the leaked emails reveal that the objective of Tea Party Republicanism is to control all branches of government, with absolute power, in its entirety. Jason Priest describes it as his “ten-year war.” Here is an excerpt from a September 2012 e-mail by Essmann to his ultra-conservative cohorts (the subject line of the email is “Agenda Control”) about how a redistricting of legislative seats will make the ultimate goal achievable:
Jon Bennion was able to draw a map with 63 safe Republican seats. If we can implement the long term strategy we will be in a position to actually elect a majority of conservatives in both bodies, adopt conservative legislation and have a court that will uphold it.
And here is one from Art Wittich, describing efforts to get rid of moderates in GOP primaries:
We must help the purge along. Hopefully, a new phoenix will rise from the ashes.
Sadly, these writings and many of the other emails that were disclosed to the Tribune reveal an almost jihadist mentality at work. The right wing of the GOP views itself as an historic movement seeking a distant, ultimate triumph in which the opposition will be vanquished and the right-wing view of the world will be imposed, imposed upon all Montanans even if a majority of the voters don’t want it. Priest, Essmann and Wittich are all running for leadership (Essmann in the house.) As of now, there are no mainstreet Republicans even in the running.
How can this type of thinking possibly be the basis for a successful political movement? It can’t, which is why Republicans are currently circling down the toilet nationally. America has a two-party system and regardless of what party you are in, to be taken seriously and help the greater good you must work with the opposition, and accept the fact that your opponents are not enemies, but simply a counterbalance representing the viewpoints of many.