The Billings Outpost

What next for GOP?

What might happen after the current Republican civil war plays out?

Some context: By the standards of the rest of the developed world, we do not have a party of the Left. The Republicans, largely because they were unwilling, and now unable, to marginalize the Tea Party and other right-wing extremists, are a party of the Right, resembling European right-wing parties. The Democrats are a centrist party that has denied effective power to extremists of the Left. Democratic Party positions on political and economic policy since the New Deal and the Great Society are now mainstream – Social Security and Medicare; investment in infrastructure, public education at all levels, and federally funded research; civil rights and civil liberties; minimum wage and union rights; progressive income taxation; environmental protection; some degree of government regulation of capitalism; subsidies for agriculture; maintaining a safety net for the poor and disadvantaged; etc.

On lifestyle issues – women’s reproductive freedom; contraception; gay rights; separation of church and state; rights of privacy and other First Amendment Rights; respect for science and other intellectual inquiry, and openness to evidence and expertise, etc. – Democratic positions that once were left-of-center are now embraced by a majority of Americans. Even in the interpretation of the Second Amendment, most Americans, even most NRA members, agree with the Democratic position of sensible controls on the arms industry. Those who are literal believers in the NRA, and who as a result stockpile guns and ammunition in service to some paranoid delusion that either the federal government or the United Nations will come for our guns, are justly seen as a lunatic fringe of the right.

What does all this portend in regard to possible realignments?

It’s pretty much up to the Republican moderates. If the moderates continue to co-exist with the Tea Party wing, there will be either continual internecine strife or a Tea Party takeover that will guarantee minority status nationally for the Republicans. They will continue to rely on gerrymandered, backwater precincts to produce a sufficient number of true believers in the U.S. House and in many state legislatures to throw a monkey wrench into the machinery of democracy. The reward for this will be to face a growing contempt for the Republican Party, and to share in the gradual decline of the United States vis-à-vis the world’s other major democracies.

If the moderates and extremists split, giving us, at least for a short period, a three-party system, the moderates would at least have an opportunity to position themselves as a constructive party of the center, pointing to the Tea Party on the extreme right, and trying to make a case that the Democrats are a party of the Left. This depiction of the Democrats would be inaccurate, but even though they are not a Left party, with this array of three parties the Democrats would be the one to the left of the other two. Moreover, a majority of Americans, who are hungering for an end to partisan gridlock and government dysfunction, might opt for the new center, which would have been effectively moved to the right. Republicans already benefit from the fact that a significant portion of American citizens have a remarkable track record of believing things that are factually inaccurate in politics, history, economics, science and religion.

Will the moderates, who lacked the courage to take on the extremists in their own party, have the courage to break away and form a new party of the “center”? Or, in the face of unrelenting demographic changes that favor the Democrats, will Republican moderates hold their noses, continue the uneasy alliance with their far-right wing, and go along with the Tea Party strategy to suppress voting among Democratic constituencies? Will they endorse this stance on the wrong side of history and watch their national role diminish? Or will they conclude that to save the Party they must take the other risk and break away and try to co-opt the political center.

As a Democrat, I will watch this Hobson’s choice with great interest. And all of us in Montana will watch to see which kind of Republican Steve Daines turns out to be.

Lawrence K. Pettit

Helena

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 April 2014 11:10

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Obamacare unconstitutional

When the U.S. Constitution was written, the U.S. Government was given the power to lay taxes. Having just finished a war with Great Britain due largely to unfair taxes, the writers knew the inherent danger in giving government the power to tax the people, so it was restricted to taxes that were necessary and proper.

Over the last 225 or so years, the U.S. Government has laid more and more taxes on the people, and understandably, more and more of us are feeling the burden of unfair taxes. If I or any citizen is taxed for something we don’t give the government permission to tax us for, we have a gripe, but is it a legitimate gripe?

The Constitution writers probably knew that different people would have different ideas about what taxes are necessary and proper, so they gave us freedom of speech, and the right to petition for redress of grievances. They also provided a provision for amending the Constitution, and the 10th Amendment plainly says that any power not given to the United States by the U.S. Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, is reserved to the States or to the people. In regards to how far the U.S. Government may go in laying taxes, the following from Wikipedia applies:

United States v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1 (1936), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the processing taxes instituted under the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act were unconstitutional. Justice Owen Roberts argued that the tax was “but a means to an unconstitutional end” that violated the 10th Amendment.

This means that a tax used for an unconstitutional end is an unconstitutional tax. Exercising my freedom of speech and right to petition for redress, I can Constitutionally argue that a tax laid on me for an unconstitutional purpose is unconstitutional. We all can.

Nowhere does the U.S. Constitution give the U.S. government the authority to legislate health care, so therefore the taxes laid to fund the Affordable Care Act are unconstitutional. It’s reserved to the states. Massachusetts recognizes this, and not only that, so did a handful of U.S. Congressmen, all Democrats and headed by Jesse Jackson Jr. Jackson introduced a Bill in 2005, the now defunct HJ Res 30, to amend the U.S. Constitution regarding quality health care. One doesn’t amend the Constitution for something that’s constitutional.

Neither U.S. v Butler nor HJ Res 30 were ever mentioned by any of the opponents of the ACA, which makes me wonder just how opposed they really were. The ACA, aka Obamacare, needs to go. Replace it with MontanaCare if you like, or amend the U.S. Constitution, but the ACA is unconstitutional. Since we the people are the government, we need to tell all three of our U.S. legislators to repeal it.

If you don’t like the ACA, and don’t speak up, it won’t go away. We may need to elect Republicans to get this done, or at least to see how serious they really are about repealing it, but there’s no question, the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

Eric Knutson

Dayton

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 March 2014 13:08

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Good basketball game

I am sure that there are some basketball fans who do not realize the significance of what will be going on at Rocky Mountain College this coming Friday night (March 7).

The Frontier Conference is made up of strong teams, and Rocky Mountain College is one of them. They battled their way to the championship; consequently, they have been invited to participate in the large 32-team tourney in Kansas City later this month.

There is also an opportunity of another Frontier Conference team that may be invited to Kansas City, and that team is Great Falls. The University of Great Falls Argonauts are stronger than they have been in a long time.

They will be playing Rocky Mountain College this week, Friday, and if you want to see a close, hard-fought battle at the Rocky gym, go there at 7 p.m. Friday, March 7.

Robert Flanagan

Billings

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 11:36

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Obama, merely mortal

No wonder some folks don’t like President Barack Obama.

He hasn’t done much, except: take us out of a futile war in Iraq, save our auto industry, eliminate Osama bin Laden, try to stabilize Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East, broker a nuclear pact with Iran, keep our economy from tanking as it did in 1929, boost the stock market, decrease unemployment, try to provide healthcare for those thoughtless enough to be born in poverty.

And he’s still going.

So it’s easy to see why folks don’t like him. He’s not stronger than a mule, faster than a bullet, or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

What a lightweight! And he’s colored.

Vern Klingman

Spokane, Wash.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 11:35

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Lockwood did well

Job well done, Lockwood. Thanks for showing all of us that the best government is that which is closest to the people.

You took the lead on the task of giving the 8,000-plus residents of Lockwood a safer place to walk or ride a bike. You make all of us proud.

Hopefully, other populated areas of the county will now follow your lead. I look forward watching you select which trail to build first and then seeing the first child on that trail.

James E. Reno

Yellowstone County Commissioners

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 11:35

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