Sunday, March 23, 2008

When challenges aren't constructive

Montana Headlines expressed a dim view of Rep. Roger Koopman's grand attempt to remake the Montana GOP in his own image by recruiting Ron Paul supporters to run against GOP incumbents. Sometimes, challengers were inexplicably being recruited to run against GOP incumbents even when there were hard-to-fill legislative race slots in that same county.

In other words, given the chance to unseat Democrats or to try to unseat "moderate" Republicans (who almost anyone else would consider to be pretty conservative,) Koopman's strategy chose the latter.

One wonders if he and his compatriots are afraid of head-on contests with tough Democrats. If their message is so compelling, they should be able to sell it anywhere, anytime, against anybody. At the least, they should leap at the chance to do battle with, well... what would Koopman call them? Half of the Republican Party in Montana is "socialist," according to Koopman, so that must mean that Democrats are, what? Leninists?

Wouldn't Koopman, et. al. ignore the socialists (Republicans) when there are Leninists (Democrats) to do battle with?

We are gratified that the firestorm of complaints directed at Koopman convinced him that he was looking forward to an ignominious primary defeat, causing him to drop out of his own race -- the biter was bitten, it seems. Again, it isn't that there is anything wrong with primary challenges -- that is just a part of working things out within a party. The trouble was that one never got the feeling that Koopman was laying the groundwork for the kind of situation where, if his candidate lost a primary, he would encourage his people to come together with other Republicans to get the Republican primary winner elected. How could Koopman credibly have supported someone he had already labeled a "socialist?"

This was never constructive intra-party dialogue in the making. All of this is very unfortunate, since we believe in having a big-tent party -- which includes having the tent be big enough to include Republicans of Koopman's views. (Again, assuming that they are willing to accept and work with more moderate Republicans toward the common-goal of forming a legislative majority on the right in Helena.)

But as Carol over at Missoulopolis pointed out, the really damaging challenges are not primaries -- that kind of thing sorts itself out by November. Koopman is actually to be commended for advocating a use of the primary process to influence the Montana Republican Party, rather than a third-party route.

No the challenges that are going to be most damaging to the causes of limited government, rule of law, lower taxes, lower spending and less government regulation are rather going to be those where Libertarian or Constitution Party candidates have filed. They can siphon off just enough votes to cost a Republican an election. And we have a number of them, just on the statewide level:

We have Libertarian or Constitution Party candidates for governor, U.S. Congress, Secretary of State, and State Superintendent. The only race where there is enough cushion to not worry about this is in Rehberg's Congressional race. The other races are likely to be close ones.

The rightward third parties have also inexplicably filed in several statewide races that will be close rather than to file against the Max Baucus race, which won't be close, barring a miracle.

Are we to assume that Montana Libertarians are rooting for another 4 years of the current governor, and are we to believe that they believe that we will have a more libertarian version of public education in Montana if the state's schools are overseen by a Democrat for yet another 4 years?

Does Montana's Constitution Party want to promote Linda McCulloch's career, and want her overseeing our state's elections?

Third parties have also filed in some potentially close legislative races -- do they believe that things will be more to their Constitutional and Libertarian liking with a Democratic legislature writing and passing all of the legislation?

Whether that is the intent, it may end up being the effect. It is hard to imagine that libertarian and constitutionally-minded Montanans want this.

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