I really haven't been following much regarding the legislature, but I noted that I was somewhat in agreement with Sen. Jon Tester in his remarks to the Montana legislature. Not about all of that bipartisan stuff -- when Democrats say "bipartisan" they usually mean "go along with what we think." And not about his grandstanding on "Citizen's United" and all that. But this line:
Don’t focus on division and distraction.
We have already seen some goofy stuff -- the ever-reliable Jerry O'Neil wanting to be paid in gold, for instance. Or how about Sen. Jason Priest's suggestion to shrink the size of the Montana legislature? Neither thing is particularly harmful. It is just the kind of silly stuff that the Montana press loves to write about -- and why not? It makes for great theater.
Just once I'd love to see a hard-nosed Republican majority go to work on an exclusively economic, legal, and regulatory agenda made up of common-sense stuff that would be difficult to assail from the left.
We have a Democratic U.S. Senator addressing the Montana legislature saying that at the federal level, every spending program needs to be on the table -- i.e. the chopping block. Let's have a Republican legislature put that into play. Put every department and every expensive program on the table here in our state. Do some significant (but not over-the-top) trimming, and quote Sen. Tester at every turn about how everything needs to be "on the table." Let the opposition howl and be the ones to be unreasonable for a change.
Leave the controversial and divisive social issues alone for a term. Leave at home, for once, those items that amount to nothing more than picking fights or picking nits regarding battles lost long, long ago. (Yes, I'm talking about you, Rep. O'Neil.)
The truth of the matter is that if Republicans take Sen. Tester's admonition to heart and "don't focus on division and distraction," the big winner would be the Montana Republican Party. Surely Sen. Tester knows this -- which means that he is serenely confident that a sizable number of Montana GOP legislators will ignore his advice and proceed to shoot themselves and their party in the foot. I wish I didn't share his confidence...