What does a political party do when it doesn’t have an actual vision or plan? Or worse yet, when the vision it believes in runs contrary to the hopes and desires of many voters? It spends its time manufacturing purely political stories to change the conversation from its radical agenda to remake Montana into a colony state for big business to short-term “scandals” that it beats to death in the hopes that the media will keep the story alive.
The latest of these politically-driven stories is Lt. Governor Angela McLean’s decision to take a position at the Board of Regents before the end of her term. The GOP noise machine, abetted by its paid media outlets and army of anonymous Twitter trolls has shifted gears to offer up indignant tweets and quotes in newspaper stories about the story. The head of the Montana Republican Party, whose party is in such disarray that he runs it from free public WiFi at coffee shops, claims that a Lt. Governor leaving office to seek another position means Governor Bullock lacks the competence necessary for office.
That position makes total sense, if you believe that the function of government is politics, not results. It makes sense, if you believe that it’s more important to manufacture outrage than produce results.
What’s been lost in this latest manufactured controversy is the simple fact that Republicans don’t have a substantive critique of the Bullock Administration to offer and they don’t have a credible alternative. Sending e-mails to graduates of the University system asking them to return so they can telecommute from parts of the state that still lack fast, reliable Internet is not an economic plan; it’s a diversion from the fact that the real Republican agenda is to drive down wages, bust unions, strip environmental regulations, and enrich the kind of people who bring business to regulation-free states. Of course, Republicans don’t want to talk about those plans, which will do real harm to people living in Montana, so they are running a proxy campaign against Governor Bullock focused on his political appointments and the imaginary threat of Syrian refugees.
What Republicans don’t want Montana voters to focus on is their plan to transform Montana into some bizarre combination of Wisconsin and Indiana, into a state where workers have no rights and government-supported discrimination is permitted. Ask their undeclared candidate for governor what he would do if elected, and you’ll hear a litany of catchphrases about regulations and freedom, no real solutions for the issues that face the state.
The simple fact is that Governor Bullock has been an effective leader of the state. His competence should be measured by his efforts in office and his success in blocking the reactionary Republican agenda.
It’s unfortunate that Lt. Governor McLean will no longer serve in the office, as she was a popular, dynamic leader, well-liked in Democratic circles and outside. But the fact that Lt. Governor McLean is leaving for another job, one she is well-qualified for, is hardly a story about governance or competence. It’s a political story that certainly might be about clashes of personality, might be about differing visions for the job, and might be a momentary diversion from the issues facing the people of Montana.
Angela McLean will do an excellent job providing opportunity for Montana students in her new role, and the voters of Montana will decide if Governor Bullock should be re-elected based on his actual work as Governor, not manufactured outrage and innuendo from Republicans.