Zinke Beats a Retreat out of the Republican Convention

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You may not know this, but Congressman Ryan Zinke is a leader. On the rarest of occasions, he lets people know that, whether it was intimating that he was such a leader he was being considered for Speaker of the House or Donald Trump’s Vice Presidential nominee. Humbly, he has accepted the mantle of leadership while only occasionally mentioning it to his constituents or the press.

It’s confusing to this constituent, though, how such an accomplished, humble leader has such a hard time leading. Today he told the Billings Gazette that he had withdrawn from the GOP convention as a delegate:

Montana’s lone congressman, Zinke told The Gazette he withdrew after the Republican platform committee endorsed transferring federal lands. Zinke made his resignation public Friday. The decision was official a few days ago.

“What I saw was a platform that was more divisive than uniting,” Zinke said. “At this point, I think it’s better to show leadership.”

That’s one peculiar definition of leadership. Instead of persuading Republicans that our wildly popular public lands should remain public, Zinke withdrew from the battlefield of ideas, somehow unable to persuade fellow Republicans with all that leadership that we should protect our national parks, forests, and monuments.

Back in October, he had a similar failure, when he couldn’t convince one Republican member of the House Natural Resources Committee to vote to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

It’s probably not leadership to hide on conservative media outlets and threaten ISIS or bombastically suggest the President is un-American. It’s leadership to do the slow difficult work of persuading people to agree with your point of view. For Congressman Zinke, a showy retreat is apparently more important than leading his party from their agenda to destroy our public lands.

But at least he got some good press for it, and isn’t that what really matters?

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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