In his soon-to-be-released book “On the House,” former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner wrote this rather astounding statement regarding the 2010 elections: “You could be a total moron and get elected just by having an R next to your name — and that year, by the way, we did pick up a fair number in that category.” Tough to argue when the highest level officer of the U.S. House of Representatives writes so bluntly about the fellow Republicans he served with in Congress. It’s worth noting, however, that unfortunately Boehner’s sad but astute observation didn’t end in 2010.
From the state house to Congress, the GOP is in a tailspin of horrific disarray, supporting and passing laws to curtail voting rights, discriminate against virtually everyone who doesn’t fit their image of “us” and promoting unfounded hatred and violence against “them.” In the meantime, what’s left of their shattered post-Trump ideology seems incapable of grasping just how deep they are in the whirlpool of rampant hypocrisy.
Not a single Republican member of Congress voted for the massive COVID relief bill – not one. Why they wouldn’t want to help their own constituents in one of the most difficult periods in the history of the nation remains unknown, although they did blather something about liberal giveaways.
Yet here in Montana one of the worst, least-experienced and most error-prone legislatures in memory would have exactly no chance of balancing the budget as required by our state Constitution without the billions of dollars now flowing into the state from the same measures the Republicans in Montana’s congressional delegation refused to support.
But the vast sweep of Republican hypocrisy doesn’t end there. After years of denigrating government, trying to “starve” it with budget cuts and tax breaks for the already wealthy, we now have the sorry attempt to mandate citizens must “pay to play” to submit comments on the management of our publicly-owned resources.
In this case it’s St. Regis Republican Rep. Denley Loge bringing House Bill 695 late in the session to charge citizens a fee to submit comments on the state’s environmental analysis prior to the government commencing actions on projects that may affect the environment.
Montana’s Constitution guarantees its citizens the “inalienable right to a clean and healthful environment” — and it’s unconscionable to make citizens pay to take part in ensuring our government doesn’t violate that right. While that’s bad enough, it also foolishly negates the value of the pool of knowledge that Montanans possess about their own landscapes, rivers, lakes and forests. Why would any “less government” Republican want to allow a government bureaucracy to unilaterally make important decisions while limiting the important step of public review and comment? Indeed, the whirlpool of Republican hypocrisy seems to have no bottom.
Then there’s Gov. Greg Gianforte who, despite being a member of the “law and order party,” seems to have a tough time following the law; although he’s very good at garnering terrible national publicity for Montanans and our state for such despicable acts as illegally shooting a collared Yellowstone wolf in a trap.
Never fear, fellow Montanans, we’ll make it through the next four years just like we made it through the last four years of Donald Trump’s utter inability to govern the nation. But make no mistake, there are very good reasons voters tossed Trump out of the White House. And as the tended and unintended consequences from the hypocrisy and incompetence of Montana’s current passel of Republican leaders becomes unbearable, they may well follow their not-so-great leader down the path of historic infamy.
George Ochenski writes from Helena. His column appears in print each Monday on the Missoulian's Opinion page. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.