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Montana Politics

Montana GOP Should Speak Out Against Derek Skees and the Birchers

It’s simply astonishing how far to the right the Montana Republican Party has swung in the past few years. Each day seems to bring new evidence about the values of the Montana Republican Party and its members. Today, we learned that one of the leading intellectual lights of the movement, Representative Derek Skees, will be presenting a speech (subject to be determined)  to the John Birch Society in Bozeman this weekend:


That Skees is a reactionary entirely out of step with Montana values is hardly surprising news. Anyone who followed the Montana Legislature even in passing quickly became aware of his entirely unorthodox and embarrassing positions. Time Magazine even featured him recently as an example of the nullification movement, bringing further embarrassment to our state:

Skees spends a lot of time talking about the creeping threat of socialism and the way Washington has wrested away the rights of states and local municipalities. His policy prescriptions include privatizing public schools, repealing the 17th Amendment (which established the direct election of U.S. Senators), eliminating the Commerce Department and replacing the income tax with a flat “Fair Tax” on consumption. After taking office in January, he introduced bills aimed at repealing renewable-energy standards, reducing the number of school districts and Supreme Court justices in Montana and further restricting authorities’ ability to seize firearms in a state with famously lax gun laws.

So, it’s pretty clear that Skees is not exactly in the mainstream, but speaking on behalf of and promoting the John Birch Society, a movement so out of touch with reality that it has been exiled from the mainstream Republican party for decades?

An organization which:

If Ms. Ries (from the Facebook post above) is to be believed, this will be the first time in over a decade that the Birch Society has hosted one of these events in Montana, another troubling sign of the Republican Party lurching so far to the right that their hero, Ronald Reagan, wouldn’t even recognize them.

There’s no place for the Birch Society in Montana, and one of their events is no place for a sitting legislator to be speaking. The Montana Republican Party should say in no uncertain terms that hate groups are not welcome here and should condemn Representative Skees for his participation.

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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  • The constant, unhinged, and intellectually bankrupt discrimination against the Republican Party never ceases to amaze me.   I guess we have to put another 2 million people out of work before people wake up.

  • The poor Republican victims of discrimination? Really?

    No one is “discriminating” against the Republicans here. I’m merely suggesting that they should not tolerate a legislator being a member of/speaker at a hate group meeting.

  • Read Invisible Hands  — and

    Return of the Republicans, John Judis, TNR, — and

    The Republican Party of Ike and even Tricky Dick would repudiate Rep. Skees, Rep. Krerns, and like-minded souls — but today’s Republican Party IS Skees, Kerns, et al. They ARE the Republican mainstream. The GOP, both in Montana and the rest of the nation, has lurched far, far right, and become far more ideologically narrow than any American Party since the Civil War. The GOP is now as much a political cult as a political party, and has become a clear and present danger to democracy.

    • While I agree with what you said about the “old school” republicans (I am one…), I disagree with even the characterization of Skees and his ilk being the Republican Mainstream. As has been evidenced by the recent Tea Party defeats in the various school board elections and the defeat of the Tea Party favorites for the Montana Republican Party officers, the Montana Tea Party is rapidly being marginalized by us – the moderate conservatives that are fed up with their racist, homophobic, religious fanaticism. I fully expect the trend to continue into next year, too. The Tea Party is the natural extension of the NeoCon movement started during Reagan’s second term. They failed to take over the party then (though they did manage to take the party to the right more) and they will fail to take over the party this time. Either the party will return to it’s core values (small government, keeping government out of our business and private lives etc) or all the moderate conservatives will end up voting Democrat. It isn;t the first time this has happened.

  • The mafia went legit long ago in many instances.  They invested heavily in taking bright, young, promising men and grooming them for judgeships and political positions.  Hence, they don’t NEED to do all things illegally any more.  When you on the courts and politicians, it’s all legal.  And as with the mafia, so has the Birch Society.   Of COURSE they’re a bunch of looney, bigoted, racist morons.  But the scary thing about worms like Gen. Robert E. Skees is that they have the backing of the fifth richest Birchers in the world, the Big Kockh brothers!  The Kockh brothers realized that in order to compete with univerities, they would have to form their OWN universities so to speak.  Hence, we have the so called “think tanks” which designe public policy, and are quoted ubiquitously in the press as gospel.  The nuts have gone legit.

    Yes, as James point out, it IS very scary and threatens our democracy.  One example.  Justice Clarence Thomas.  He does not even ATTEMPT to hide the fact that he works for the Kockhs.  Buh bye democracy!  Hello Kochistan!

  • Liberal and Progressive? That *is* bad!

    It must be better to believe in a secret organization bent on ruling the world and leading it to socialism!

  • I have met Derek Skees and I like him. And the John Birch Society is not a hate group. Are we in Germany now?

  • Read the US constitution. And there is a move to one world govmt and socialism. The progressives are leading it.

  • With every little thing that seems to be building inside this particular subject material, many of your viewpoints are generally rather exciting. Nevertheless, I am sorry, because I can not subscribe to your entire idea, all be it exciting none the less. It would seem to us that your comments are not totally justified and in fact you are yourself not entirely convinced of the point. In any event I did take pleasure in looking at it.

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