Montana Politics

The Tyrannical Shackles of the Tea Party on Rick Hill and Steve Daines

Like many Republican candidates nationwide, the presumptive favorites in a couple of GOP primaries in Montana, Rick Hill and Steve Daines, are running far to the right to make sure that they win their primaries. Needing the support of the Tea Party to ensure primary support and no third party challenge, both men are shackling themselves to the secessionist rhetoric of an already discredited movement.

In two years, after this legislative session’s excesses and two years of Tea Party obstruction in Washington, the Tea Party brand is going to be even more toxic than it is now, leaving Daines and Hill (both renowned opportunists) in very uncomfortable positions.

From the outset, Hill has been positioning himself as having been “in the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party” and Daines has jumped on every single opportunity to ingratiate himself with Montana Republicans, who seem most interested in the fact that he has a lot of money than principles. Currently, that opportunity is the Tea Party, and Daines is throwing himself in with them completely.

Listen to what they’re saying at the Victor Lincoln-Reagan Dinner, courtesy of Ravalli Republic reporter Whitney Bermes twitter feed:

  • Daines refers to the passing of Obamacare as the “tyranny we saw from our government.”
  • Rick Hill – “We need to push back against the federal government.”

And those are exactly the TYRANNICAL shackles the TEA Party is imposing on Daines and Hill. Sure, throwing around the word “tyranny” to describe a lawfully passed bill might play well in Victor at the Lincoln-Reagan dinner and Michelle Bachman plays well to a crowd of partisans in Helena, but will Hill and Daines really want to bring these messages to a general election after this legislative session? By the end of this session, the general public in Montana is going to have had its fill of tea and talk of tyranny.

Daines and Hill need to drink the tea to win their primaries, but how much damage will they do to themselves in the process?  What will Daines and Hill do? Hope that the media will let them use inflammatory, reactionary, secessionist rhetoric now and then default to generalized talk about “freedom” and “opportunity” in the general election.

It’s up to all of us to keep track of what they are saying now—and not let them run away from it when they try to next year.

Update: Of course, I could be wrong. After all, looked at this “packed” Tea Party Town Hall meeting in Billings. Who wouldn’t want to ensure getting those 14 votes?

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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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