Guest opinion: GOP must reclaim wisdom of TR, Lincoln

2014-07-08T00:00:00Z 2014-07-11T00:36:04Z Guest opinion: GOP must reclaim wisdom of TR, LincolnBy A.J. OTJEN The Billings Gazette
July 08, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Many Republicans have been waiting and wishing to vote for a Republican U.S. Senate. But no matter how decent or even reasonable Steve Daines may be, he is beholden to the party with a loud and demanding base that perverts reasonableness and insists on slavish obedience to a toxic orthodoxy.

Evidence of such is Daines’ acceptance of the notion that government can dictate what we do with our bodies and what goes on in the privacy of our bedrooms. Daines says on his House website that he will “work passionately to promote a culture of life from conception to natural death, and protect marriage as between one man and one woman.”

As a senator, he would have a vote in confirming nominees for Supreme Court justices. The base would demand that he only confirm justices who accept that regulating women’s bodies is among the federal government’s enumerated powers. One more justice in that corner and women will be forced to find coat hangers and dark alleys again.

Zinke changes position

If any thought there was any chance he would think differently on this issue, that possibility has been diminished with his co-sponsorship of H.R.1091 Life at Conception Act, a bill that would end women’s choice as we know it.

As for our Republican candidate for the House, Ryan Zinke is walking down the same path. Zinke once was pro-choice, until the politicos convinced him he could only be elected if he checked the pro-life box on the litmus tests administered by the far right.

But it’s not just these oppressive attitudes that make it impossible to vote Republican. Nationwide, the true believers in the party that gave America Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt prostrate themselves at a pantheon of self-parodying crackpots. Ted Nugent. Sarah Palin. Rush Limbaugh. Anne Coulter, whose latest bulletin from the front is that kids playing soccer on Saturday afternoons are the minions of a diabolical left-wing conspiracy.

Daines dutifully worked on bills that satisfy the far right, make for snappy advertising slogans and have zero chance of enactment into law. If he is elected to the Senate, the balance of power in Washington could shift to Republicans in both houses. If you are aghast at the dysfunction in the House, as Speaker John Boehner has struggled with the GOP’s jihad faction, imagine what would be in store if both houses of Congress fell to Republican control. And that is something for which most Montanans do not want to be responsible.

We could take a leaf from Mississippi’s book. In Mississippi, the extremists lost. Senator Thad Cochran retained his position even though Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and the Fox News arm wavers all anointed Chris McDaniel for greatness. And now, they are so outraged by McDaniel’s loss, they are crying third party. If they leave, good riddance. Let them and their obtuse followers disappear into a third party bubble floating in a fantasy world of extremism and filled with the noxious gases of their turgid exhalations.

If Daines or Zinke want to be elected, they must not take their cues from the crackpots and crazies who have poisoned the Republican brand. Be real leaders and take the Republican Party back to sanity, back to the visionary leadership of Theodore Roosevelt, back to the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln.

A.J. Otjen is Montana coordinator for Republicans for Environmental Responsibility, GOP precinct chairwoman in Laurel, and professor of business at Montana State University Billings.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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