Some Montana Republicans with Real Courage Are Doing the Right Thing in the COVID-19 Pandemic

While many Montana Republicans are refusing to respond to COVID-19 with real leadership, some are stoking militia-fed fears of government tyranny because they can’t get a manicure, and others are spreading dangerously wrong scientific information that will cost lives, I have to give credit to the Montana Republicans who understand the gravity of this situation and who are pushing back against the histrionic and ill-informed narratives coming from the worst of their party.

While the reactionary fringe of the Republican Party gets all the attention by spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories, the Montana Conservative Solutions Caucus is a group of Republicans who believe that their focus should be on issues affecting Montana Main Streets, not the values of militia redoubts.

And it’s encouraging to see them standing with the people of Montana during the COVID-19 outbreak.

On their Facebook page today, they called out the danger presented by people like Dr. Annie Bukacek, who has been spreading lies and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 death rates.

Earlier in the week, State Representative Llew Jones, spoke about Toole County, where I grew up, and the part of the state that has suffered the most deaths:

It is comforting to be able to share that a strong coordinated effort is underway. All the area medical facilities and emergency response groups were represented on the call, with the general report being that the situation, while difficult, was being addressed. I personally am very impressed and thankful for our local healthcare providers and their frontline efforts to keep us all safe.”

The members of the MCSC are under siege from a loud, ill-informed fringe of self-appointed experts who imagine they understand the Constitution and public health better than the experts because they have read some meme on Facebook. They respond like the mob, perhaps not understanding that nothing terrified the Founding Fathers more than the violent impulses of a poorly informed mob leading the country into ruin.

I don’t agree with the MT Conservative Solutions Caucus on many political questions. I suspect most of its members hold views diametrically opposed to mine, and more than one has felt the sting of one of my posts here, but I have to give them credit for this: while we may see the world differently, they are driven by pragmatism. Seeing the threat to rural Montana hospitals, they helped ensure expanded Medicaid access that kept them open, even though they probably don’t want government involved in health care.

That’s because they care about Montana and they understand basic math.

I don’t know that I’d ever be able to bring myself to vote for a MCSC member, and I am quite sure they have little interest in my endorsement, but we need to give credit to Republicans who are willing to stick to sound governance in the face of a mob that demands they act irrationally.

If only Greg Gianforte, Steve Daines, and the rest of the Republican leadership had the same courage, we might be able to restore a semblance of reasonable governance to the Legislature.

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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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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  • It seems in the Montana GOP there are 12-15 sane, responsible people who truly do want to uphold their oaths of office and represent the people of Montana. Unfortunately, there are also 12-15 spite-filled, greed-driven extremists who reject anything sensible, no matter its origin. Their heads explode when any rational conservative tries to do anything sensible, and they attack and cannibalize the members of their own party more viciously than they do the Democratic members of the Legislature.

    As long as Montana Republican voters keep returning these creatures to the Legislature, we’ll keep seeing the nastiness continue. The classic example recently has been Greg Hertz, quoted as saying “The Medicaid expansion is a disaster – it has helped too many people.” WTF???!!!

  • I hope they can talk some sense into Dee Brown, et al.

    “The chairwoman of Montana’s Legislative Audit Committee said Thursday she doubts the state can justify spending all of the $1.25 billion it expects to receive under the federal coronavirus relief bill.

    “There’s big bucks coming down with COVID-19, but it is not going to be a free-for-all,” Republican Sen. Dee Brown of Hungry Horse told the Legislative Council.

    “All federal funding will be subject to Legislative Audit Committee oversight,” she said. ”It will have accountability.”

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