I’ll probably tackle a more thoughtful post about the Jeff Essman created debacle at the Montana Legislature today, but a couple of quick notes about the Senate’s “leadership” seem warranted this morning.
The next step in the controversy over whether or not Senator Essman can run roughshod over the rules of the Senate will come today at a Rules Committee meeting. Unfortunately, the Rules Committee is chaired by Senator Art Wittch (R-Dark Money) who has seemingly already decided that Essman was justified:
Republicans leaders decided to go forward with the session and began holding votes that caused the outburst by the democrats (sic).
“What you saw today was not order but was disorder and so we are completely within the rules to do what we did,” says Montana Senator Art Wittich, a Republican from Bozeman.
There is clearly a great deal more to be said about what happened on Friday , but the short version is quite clear: Democrats attempted to follow the existing rules of the Senate to prevent the Republicans from ramming a set of legislative referenda through the body and the Republican leadership responded with strong-arm tactics reminiscent of a banana republic. Media focus on Democratic Senators yelling to get the attention of the speaker might have made for good video and great copy, but it failed to highlight the most important element of what happened Friday, the deliberate violation of Senate rules and democratic procedure.
When the Constitution of Montana and the rules of democratic governance are being violated by a government official, a bit of yelling seems more than warranted, something I thought the TEA Party inspired members of the Republican delegation believed in.
The only way democratic institutions remain democratic is when the rights of the minority are recognized; Essman’s laughable rationale cannot change that.The Republicans on the Rules Committee will no doubt validate the actions they conspired to perpetrate on Friday, but that will not legitimize them.
And never forget, all of this was avoidable. If Republicans had simply scheduled these bills with time for discussion, debate, and public input, the Democratic strategy would have been viable.
While you’re waiting for the sham Rules committee today, take a break with a few of the delightful Twitter accounts that have emerged to highlight the absurdity of Senator Essman’s delusions of grandeur.
Note to conservative blogs: these are not really Jeff Essman. I think.