Montana Politics

Courageous or Traitors?

Tuesday evening, most of Missoula County’s legislative delegation gave a recap of 2015 session.

Speaking to a crowd of local Democrats, legislators sang the praises of the “courageous” Republicans who bucked party leadership and voted with Democrats on some of the important bills that passed last session.

In Wednesday’s Missoulian, Rep. Brad Tschida (R-Missoula) had a different take.  He called the crossover votes “indefensible actions.”  The guest column was headlined: “True Republicans are loyal to party.”

This raises some questions: party first or constituents, and is it the tea party or the moderates who speak for the Republican Party these days?

Of course there’s some friction in the Democratic Party but being in the legislative minority makes for a more cohesive unit.  Their schisms seem minuscule compared to the Republicans.

This is how Tschida sees it:

I question why legislators who are self-described as “responsible” are only members of the Republican caucus. I would think that true “bipartisanship” or “compromise” would include some “responsible Democrats” who vote their individual conscience, rather than what their leadership demanded, and joined ranks with Republicans on divisive issues. I didn’t see any such display in the 64th Legislature from the left.

Of course he’s wrong.  There was all sorts of compromise on bills.  Medicaid expansion is a fine example.  To get the Republicans needed to pass the bill, some bad amendments were added to what was originally a clean, straight-forward bill.  There are also many examples of Democrats voting for Republican sponsored bills.  But if Tschida sees Democrats as a well-oiled machine and the Republicans as the party of turncoats, that’s cool.

So, the dozen or so Republicans in the House, and seven or eight in the Senate who sometimes voted with the Democrats are either heroes or traitors.  I’m thinking most Montanans are just happy that some stuff got done in Helena.  I’m not one to sing Republican praises but it could have been worse and I understand that compromises needed to be made, especially when you’re in the minority.  I’m happier with the really bad bills that got killed or vetoed.

Here’s the deal, Rep. Tschida, enough Republicans joined with Democrats to pass some sort of progressive legislation and reject the stinkers.  That’s how it works.  You get the votes you need on a bill, you win.


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.


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  • Another case where local comments and Posts, will be much more interesting, also informative. Communicate local info and opinion spurned by mass media. Let the other Party specialize in centrist controled information.

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Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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