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Montana Politics

The Montana Democrats Offer a Lame Response to GOP Hate

As you have probably read (though precious little in Montana’s dailies, it appears), the Montana GOP wants to overturn the Supreme Court and turn back the clock a generation to outlaw “homosexual acts.”

Weeks later, and not even on their front page that features critical items like a story about small business workshop, the Montana Democratic Party offered this tepid response:

“Republicans seem to be spending a lot of time creating issues for themselves,” said David Benson, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party.  “Whether it is their desire to invade the privacy of Montanans or filing frivolous lawsuits, Republicans have demonstrated a lack of understanding of the real issues that concern everyday Montanans.”

“Democrats in the meantime will continue to focus on creating good-paying jobs, making Montana a leader in clean and green energy, and continue to fight for Main Street, not Wall Street.”

How much hand-wringing and massaging of language did it take to offer that statement? How difficult would it have been to assert a clear statement opposing the GOP effort and expressing the party’s support for Court’s decade old decision? How about referencing the party’s platform, which calls for equality fourteen times?

Here’s a little secret for Montana Democrats. The people who care about this issue aren’t going to vote for you…ever. They watch Fox News, rally against health education curricula, think Glenn Beck makes sense. Pandering to them with a half-hearted swipe at the Republicans is futile.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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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  • And yet, this is what Democrats do almost all of the time, which dovetails into my theory (okay, fine, maybe it's Noam Chomsky's theory) that the reason the country overall is so right-wing is that the left feels it has to pander to so-called "moderate" or center-right elements all the time to the point that the left doesn't offer a socially libertarian platform anymore.

  • this sort of wan yuppie response only succeeds in putting progressives to sleep and boring everyone to death…

    it's like watching the republicans lob chest-high hanging curveballs and the coach is signalling bunt.

    this small-ball approach toward issues is killing any semblance of change in this country. we need to get some leaders with fire in their belly to push against the right, instead of a bunch of kids who are afraid to engage.

  • The thing is, this isn't an issue and the Democrats probably want to keep t that way. The only way this could be significant is if Democrats, any Democrats were to mount another effort to repeal the sodomy statutes. Funny, I haven't any rumbling on that score even from outraged progressives'.

    Without that effort, it's just political theater. Right now, even many moderate Republicans are questioning that plank of the Rep platform. But nothing motivates these people more than punching hippies (opposing any and all ideas of Democrats). That gives Democrats the upper hand, for now. Do nothing, and the theater remains quiet. Oppose this with mighty and angry words, and all of a sudden this becomes 'an issue', to be lied about, blown out of proportion (GAY AGENDA!) and generally used to punch hippies. And the punch line is, without repeal on the table, there is no real issue to fight over.

    The Democratic statement is correct. Moderates and undecided voters really are more concerned about jobs, the economy and matters of environment then they are Republican bigotry and unenforceable antiquated laws. This statement panders to those folks, not the bigots. It would appear that what progressives are calling for here is a bit of pander to them.

  • How long do progressives or GLBTQ voters or environmentalists or child welfare advocates keep holding their noses and voting for a party that is so afraid it won't even articulate values it had twenty years ago?

    I'm not saying that the Montana Democrats needed to come out in favor of gay marriage (though they should), but a simple statement affirming respect for privacy and personal choice would have been much better.

    Sure, the Republicans were pandering to their base. For Democrats to simply say that there is no place for hatred against gay Montanans or affirm respect for equality wouldn't be pandering; it would be following what "the party of the people" says it believes.

  • Wulfgar, what statutes do you speak of? The Supreme Court of the United States already decided this issue in Lawrence v. Texas 2003. It is my understanding that these statutes were specifically struck down.

    As for your strategy of keeping this a "non-issue," this is exactly why Democrats don't have much power nationally even if they control two branches of government. They surrender ground by essentially agreeing with whatever conservatives say. They will "acknowledge that there are concerns," and try to take a "moderate" position, which means they abandon the Democratic platform a good deal of the time.

    I wonder what progressive folks think they are voting for anymore. Democrats string them along on the promise of political tablescraps, and they get thrown under the bus frequently.

  • Actually, It was the Montana Supreme court which struck down Montana's sodomy laws, based on the privacy clause in the Montana Constitution. The ruling was Gryczan v. Montana. Please look it up. You will also find that statutes against sodomy remain on the books in Montana. They simply cannot be enforced. That is why the Republican party keeps inserting their support for those laws in their platform. Pogie already clarified some of this in his post. If you're going to comment on the issue, you should at least educate yourself about it. Just a suggestion …

    Also, it's not 'my' strategy. It's the strategy of the Montana Democrats, and it is just that, a strategy. It is designed to facilitate winning elections, not to uphold principle. Do keep that in mind.

  • Hmmmmm. finally some adult talk. Found you via Cowgirl via web search on Derek Skees, and boy, did that lead to some interesting time-wasters. I'll be back but keep your discussions going so I can get informed and re-educated in the current issues at our circus here in Helena.

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