We like Jore and his principles even when we are disagreeing with his practical applications of them-- readers of Montana Headlines know this much, since one of our early projects was pointing out how unfairly the Billings Gazette was treating him. But Jore is showing how conservative principles can morph into an ideology -- and traditional conservative thought has never been ideological.
He can't be faulted for disloyalty. Jore promised no-one that he would be a loyal Republican -- that's why he ran under the Constitution Party banner. But in refusing to vote for the 6 appropriations bills as they are coming out of committee, he (and any Republicans who join him) will, to use Galbraith's choices that were mentioned in yesterday's post, ultimately be choosing the disastrous over the merely unpalatable.
Jore's knowledge and understanding of our country's founding documents is sound -- more so than is that of most of his colleagues. What seems not to be as sound or in-depth is his familiarity with the messy process by which the Founders and their successors in the first 50 or so years of the early Republic developed a distinctively Anglo-American system of governance.
The art of compromising on specific policies while holding principles intact is not an easy one, but it is a necessary one. Anyone can take a set of abstract principles and plug them into a decision-tree to decide whether to vote for a particular bill or candidate. More than that is needed of conservatives in Helena right now, much more.
Jore has the floor, and people are listening to him because he holds that 51st vote. What he says and does, and how he says and does it, will determine whether the principles and ideas he holds dear will gain or lose currency in Montana -- and whether he will be listened to in the future when he is no longer the dealmaker.
We're not suggesting that Jore become a moderate -- that's the last thing we need more of. We are suggesting that Jore needs to find a creative way to use his unique position to move Montana in the right political direction.
While restraining government spending is a necessary part of any such turn, just doing more of what House Republicans have already done a lot of isn't terribly creative. We certainly doubt that it would accomplish anything other than making it even easier for the Democratic Senate to justify sticking all of that spending back in.
Jore needs to come up with a different plan -- one that will leave Democrats in a bit of a dilemma. We think he can do it.