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Montana Politics

Don’t Think the Tea Party Runs the Montana GOP? Think Again

Dave Lewis, Republican Senator from Helena, has long been known as a pragmatic member of the Montana GOP caucus, so his decision to introduce a resolution urging withdrawal from the United Nations was a surprise. Two sources have told me that Lewis told them that he introduced the resolution to avoid a primary from a Tea Party backed candidate, certainly a disappointing decision that reflects the growing power of the far right fringe in Montana politics.

I asked Senator Lewis to comment, and his response indicates that the Tea Party certainly has  influence, as does Denny “keep the federal government out of state government” Rehberg:

I had discussed this in 2007 with a constituent and had gotten a draft done.  At that point, one of Congressman Rehbergs staff asked that I not introduce it because he felt it be awkward for the Congressman if we passed it.  I pulled the resolution and did not introduce it.  I susequently (sic) felt bad about backing out and discussed it with the same constituent this time.  He urged me to proceed.  I do support the concept.  I think the proposal has merit because the UN costs us a lot of money and it has little or no positive results for Montana.  I was asked by a small group at a tea party meeting last winter if I would introduce it and agreed.  It may have helped to assure that I did not have a primary, but I really do not know that.  I did not do it for that reason.  I felt it was unfinished business from 2007.  I think it is a good resolution and look forward to the hearings on it.

Birchers and Birthers, oh my!

It’s hard to accept Lewis’s position at face value. No credible foreign policy analyst thinks it would be to the benefit of the United States to leave the United Nations—that’s the kind of talk one only hears at militia meetings and conspiracy conventions. Does Senator Lewis really believe that losing our veto power at the Security Council would better protect American interests? That withdrawing from a global forum for economic, political, and health issues would enhance American influence and relative power?

Of course not. This resolution has no chance of passing, would bring no impact other than national and international mockery if it did, and represents the worst kind of frivolous resource wasting by our political leaders who should be focused on Montana’s economy and the budget.

What’s troubling is that Dave Lewis isn’t some marginalized fringe figure like Ed Butcher. He’s a respected party leader who sits on some of the most critical committees in the Senate. Maybe some enterprising reporter should ask him if he doesn’t have a better way to spend the time of the staffers in Legislative Services.

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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