With all the subtlety of a blinking billboard, the New York Times ran a lengthy article on Sunday explaining how it is that leftwing Democrats regularly win in a characteristically conservative state. Amidst the article praising their disarming pro-abortion language and Jon Tester’s folksy, seven-fingered populism, the author took time to praise the leftist ‘Solutions Caucus’ that is holding Montana’s Republican Party hostage.
Written by Sarah Vowell, a hardcore leftist, gay-marriage advocate, and voice-actor (she voices a character in Disney’s The Incredibles) whose witty liberalisms have been published in progressive publications like San Francisco Weekly and the Salon Magazine, the article explains to the New York Times’ national audience how in the world Montana has escaped the conservative culture of surrounding states and remained a purple-ish hue in a sea of red across the electoral map.
Certainly, outsiders look at the Big Sky State and wonder how Steve Bullock and Jon Tester are competitive here, and Vowell does offer some compelling insights. Montana’s liberalism is cloaked in a HeeHaw-style populism rather than in the gender-bending, rainbow-splattered hermaphroditism of Seattle or Portland. Jon Tester’s voting record is identical to Chuck Schumer’s, but his photo-ops are done from a tractor. And when Montana’s liberals talk about ruthlessly and violently slaughtering the unborn they cloak it in the language of medical privacy rather than in the rhetoric of openly hostile derision toward infants used in more liberal parts of the country. And Vowell touches on all these points. In short, Montana’s liberals vote like San Francisco’s, but their stump-speeches are cloaked in whimsy and golly-gee populism popular in the countryside.
As the Montana Daily Gazette has thoroughly covered, the Solutions Caucus, which has renamed itself with the misnomer Conservative Solutions Caucus over the Spring, began as a devil’s bargain between Llew Jones (and other far-left Republicans like Walt McNutt of Sidney) and then-governor, Brian Schweitzer. The budget deal solidified the new relationship between Montana Democrats and this leftward minority contingent of the Republican Party. But it turns out – as Llew Jones found out – that the minority party (Democrats) and a minority-wing of the Republican Party together make a majority in the state legislature. With the greasy, compromise-laden handshake between Llew Jones and Montana’s Democrat governor, the Republican majority was neutered of power and the legislature’s authority was placed directly into the shirt pocket of Governor Schweitzer.
Fast-forward 13 years and exchange Governor Schweitzer for Governor Bullock and Montana is still being ruled by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans who might as well be Democrats, led by Llew Jones. And now, Llew Jones’ Solutions Caucus is actively recruiting Democrats like Joel Krautter (HD35) to run as Republicans and recruiting liberals to take over Republican county precinct positions in Republican Central Committees all around the state. And it’s this very same Solutions Caucus that is being praised in the New York Times by an unkempt liberal activist in an article about why Democrats continue to win Montana elections.
Vowell praises the Solutions Caucus as “businesslike conservatives who will stick with the right wing on bedrock beliefs like limiting abortion — one bill provoked a Bullock veto —but will vote with the Democrats when doing so solves a logistical problem or staves off needless idiocy.”
In comparison, Vowell derided the super-majority of Republicans affiliated with the conservative caucus known as the .38 Special, describing them as “a petulant Tea Party-tinged cabal.” Her use of the term cabal actually mirrored a letter-to-the-editor against a .38 Special candidate by Walt McNutt several weeks ago, who helped to found the Solutions Caucus with Jones in 2007. Nonetheless, it is an interesting word to use to refer to the majority of a voting body – if not downright hostile to language itself – considering a cabal is a “secret political clique or faction” and the .38 Special has far more members than the leftist Democrat-swing voters known as the Solutions Caucus.
The problem for conservatives is that they don’t outnumber both Llew Jones’ Democrat swing-voters in the Republican-controlled legislature and Democrats. Together, they place control in the hands of the minority party.
What Vowell praises in her New York Times article is the ingenuity of Democrats to adapt their liberal talking points for the plain-spoken and simple-tongued people of Montana’s mountains and prairie. She praises their ability to conceal their positions in populism, which amounts in her mind to some kind of political genius. And amidst praising Montana Democrats for their wordsmithing, she heaped the greatest praise upon the rogue and runaway leftists in the Republican Party.
Llew Jones and the Solutions Caucus should be proud of themselves, being lauded in arguably the most liberal publication in the United States. And Montana’s Republicans should send them packing to San Francisco.