The MT Cowgirl blog has already posted tonight, deconstructing the fascinating emergence of a group of young Republican activists on Twitter who are seeking to brand themselves as the “Young Guns” of the Montana Republican Party, with a focus on catchphrases about “liberty” and “privacy.” Bizarrely, they also seem fixated on the Cowgirl blog, a target for Montana Republicans since its emergence a few years back. It’s a troubling fixation, and one that has really always hurt my feelings.
While I always think it’s encouraging to see young people involved in politics, I have to admit that, thus far, the rhetoric from the young guns certainly doesn’t seem like anything other than old Republican values in a new online forum. 1
My issue isn’t with young people (precious few that they are) identifying as Republicans. It’s not concern that this effort will peel away voters from the Democratic candidates I support, and it’s not just a desire to engage in a fun little online spat.
My issue is that until these activists make a move to criticize the reactionary wing that dominates Montana Republican Party politics, their online posturing is little more theatrics. They can talk about their new ideas using glittering generalities and empty rhetoric all they want, but until young Republicans act to wrest control of their party from the far right candidates who dominate the state party, those who call themselves “young guns” can more aptly be described as “lil buckaroos.”
If they #MTGOPYoungGuns want to offer something more than oddly spelled quotes on awkward pictures, they need to start running primary candidates against the people who’ve made their party the object of national scorn and local humiliation. It’s not enough to talk about liberty; these Republicans had better work for it in bills other than those promoting the right of Montana to secede from the Union.
It’s also worth noting that the group of young Republicans has learned one very Republican strategy: they enter into a political discussion and start crying foul the moment someone hits back. Yesterday, after posting their images on the #mtpol hashtag relentlessly since their conference ended, there was some push back. Some people asked for specific policy positions and some even mocked the self-regard with which the “Young Guns” carried themselves. And that’s fair. As much fun as posting slogans on Twitter must have been, being able to answer the give and take of politic argument matters, too.
Some have accused me of cynicism in my day, but I’ll remain hopeful that this group of Republicans really intends to change their party in more than just its image, but as one of their heroes said, I can only trust, but verify.
Time will tell.
- I can’t confirm whether the picture below is the chairman of the Montana GOP trying to use Twitter. ↩