“Young Guns” Try To Rebrand the Montana Republican Party

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. I can’t confirm whether the picture below is the chairman of the Montana GOP trying to use Twitter.]


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.

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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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  • While the other comment is clearly from a crazy person, I would just point out Don that immediately going after young people looking to get involved in the political process regardless of whether or not they are democrats or republicans is not the way we should be going about things. I know our blog and online rhetoric has gotten a little out of hand in the last couple years between the right and left in this state, but we should at least be able to agree that young people getting involved on both sides is a good thing for the state.

    • I think it’s great that young people are getting involved as well, and I sure hope you can take some of that youthful energy to Helena.

      Talk some sense into those party elders and stubborn proponents of policies that just won’t pass and really don’t represent the majority.

      If some of you really are serious and aren’t just hanging out in the university towns, file for office and challenge someone in your primary.

      You might not win, but you’ll get your name out there for next time and maybe you’ll be able to edge the debate in a direction that makes it a whole hell of a lot likelier things will get done in Helena to benefit everyone.

    • Well, I see you’re already running, Mike, and here in SD 49.

      I don’t know how you’re going to beat Doug Coffin or
      Diane Sands, but at least with no primary challenger it looks like you’ll be in it until November.

      Good luck!

    • I think people involved in politics, whether young or old, should have to defend real positions, not catchphrases and slogans. Let’s leave that for the Zinke campaign.

      And pretending like an Astroturf effort to take over the Montana politics Twitter feed is an authentic movement, given that it came on the heels of an online strategy meeting organized at a meeting of the Republican old guard, is pretty disingenuous.

      I’m happy to debate the issues with Republicans, old and young. These young ones just haven’t brought any to the table yet.

      • Don, I agree with you that politicians should defend their positions, even when they are wrapped in catchphrases and slogans. Just where is Walsh’s defense of his vote against Adegbile while campaigning on the catch phrase of “protecting civil liberties?” Can you provide him one since his handlers at Hilltop can’t seem to come up with the words.

  • like many demographics, Dems seem to take the youth vote for granted, and they mock the libertarian appeal of candidates like Ron Paul.

    of course, if I was a Walsh supporter, I’d find anything else to write about right now.

    if you’re looking for actual policy decisions, Don, Adam Hertz took a difficult vote that hopefully saved Missoula from litigation from our council’s attempt to criminalize sitting. it’s refreshing to see a young conservative do the right thing when so many Missoula Democrats were going along with a terrible policy idea because a “progressive” like Caitlin Copple told tales of transients chasing pregnant women to convince her colleagues that banning sitting downtown was necessary.

    • Perhaps you should run for the Missoula City Commission. I actually agree with you about the ordinance and I’ve said so before. Given your unerring sense of right and wrong, you’d be a real voice for liberty on the MCC.

      I think we’d all really to see that.

  • Don, I live in Kalifornia, but am intensely interested in Montana’s politics. My family has lived there, and I’m thinking of moving back.

    What do these young GOPers stand for? Can you give me some examples? They sound like the tough-talking MGTOW types. But I don’t know.

    Also, can you give me a recap on what you call the Far Right is doing up there?

    I collect opinions, and I need feedback from the liberal side. I collect info from all sides, if I can.


    • Um, for the record, where’d your family live, and what’s their last name? It’s too easy to make up a personal story on the blogs, and even much easier to verify. Montana is still a small town with long streets. Give us a name so that we know you’re not full of baloney.

  • The best way to get involved in politics is to organize behind a cause, any one will do, and outside the parties, which only exist as distraction. When I see people with chests all puffy claiming to be involved by means of partisan political campaigns for office financed by hidden power, I am reminded that these same people can’t place Iran on a map and think that the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.

    But dammit, they’re involved!

      • Everyone makes mistakes. That is not what matters. What matters is making mistakes count, using them to sharpen our minds as we move forward.

        You are a walking living breathing mistake. I’ll be damned if I can figure how to make use of you.

  • Don and Larry are both so caught up in their own inflated ego and sense of liberal self righteousness that they both shit out various inherent contradiction in each worthless inflammatory blog and post they put out. Rip on young people involved in politics, really classy Don.

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