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Montana Politics

Dennis Rehberg’s Libertarian Problem: He Doesn’t Protect Liberty

I think it’s wonderful news that Montanans who identify as Libertarians will have the opportunity to vote in the Senate race for someone who represents their views. While I certainly don’t share many views in common with the Libertarian party, they do represent a substantial portion of the Montana electorate—and it’s great news that retired Missoula businessman Jerry McConnell has filed to run.

McConnell’s entry into the race certainly presents a bit of a problem for Dennis Rehberg, who despite a desperate lurch to the TEA Party side of his party since 2010, has and continues to advocate some positions that should certainly give Libertarians pause.

Most importantly, Rehberg has been a fiscal disaster, sitting on the sidelines while the Republican Congress and President Bush massively increased the nation’s debt.

Rehberg himself was one of the worst offenders in the Congress, ranking as the member of Congress with the most earmark requests. Even Montana Republicans agree that Representative Rehberg was one of the worst offenders. Even Rehberg disagreed with himself, telling the Great Falls Tribune in 2010 that “earmarks are not the problem. They direct money that already exists within the program to a particular area, because who knows their district more than we do? That’s our opportunity to make our argument to our colleagues. It doesn’t add to the budget.”

Along the way, the “fiscally conservative” Rehberg voted himself give pay raises, increasing his salary by almost $29,000 annually.

On civil liberties, Rehberg’s record is even worse, most notably in his support for the Patriot Act. While he finally voted against this odious piece of legislation in 2011, Rehberg repeatedly voted to authorize the act which dramatically increased government power at the expense of civil liberties.

He’s famous for supporting the REAL ID program, anathema to Libertarian and civil liberties groups. And Montanans of all political stripes.

Oh, and he’s decided that the federal government should ride roughshod over state law, granting the “the secretary of homeland security total operational authority over all federal lands within 100 miles of the U.S. international and maritime borders”

Two things have become abundantly clear in Dennis Rehberg’s tenure in office. One is that he is largely free of principle, given his amazing number of flips and flops while in office. The second? He’s a big-government, corporate Republican everywhere except in his ads and press releases.

Montanans interested in preserving individual freedoms would do well to look to another candidate in 2012.

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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