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How about a Christmas truce in Montana’s partisan political war?


How about a Christmas truce in Montana’s partisan political war?

Dec 08, 2023 | 6:44 am ET
By George Ochenski
How about a Christmas truce in Montana’s partisan political war?
Photo illustration by Getty Images.


It’s all too obvious that “peace on Earth, goodwill toward men” is getting real hard to find these days.

Red-hot shooting wars are going on all over the globe and the concerns about those conflicts expanding, not shrinking, are very real. Yet, when it comes to “leading by example” there’s not much to be said for our politicians and the open partisan warfare that has consumed both political parties for far too long.

He’s right, and he did a good job of not only pointing out recent examples in Montana’s media and campaign ads, but of calling it like it is regarding the often false manipulation of the public for the supposed benefit of one political party or the other, one grandstanding politician or another.

As Welsch also pointed out: “Of course, whether Republican or Democrat, it’s easier and perhaps required to run with national-party talking points than to speak from the heart with pertinent ideas for making a great state we all cherish even greater.”

Bingo, Mr. Welsch, and much thanks for hitting that salient nail on the head. When the political parties spend all their time, energy and money viciously fighting each other, that doesn’t really leave many resources for actual leadership and action on our most pressing issues, now does it?

While there are those who will chastise Welsch for using the flurry of recent Republican political attacks as an example, they should also pay particular attention to the very real fact he mentions — namely, that Republicans are dang near totally in charge of running Montana right now.
Republicans hold every statewide office except Jon Tester’s Senate seat, they have a supermajority in both chambers of the Legislature, and Republican Greg Gianforte in the governor’s office (at least some times).
Simply put, there’s no credible way to blame Democrats for the overall state of the state when they’re outnumbered 2 to 1 on every vote on every policy.

Likewise, it’s a twisted fantasy that Montana’s nearly extinct Democrats have somehow managed to corral and control the state’s media and press when they can’t even get their candidates elected to office.

As Will Rogers famously quipped: “I belong to no organized party; I’m a Democrat.” But he also supported Welsch’s rationale for holding Montana’s Republicans accountable, saying: “I generally give the party in power, whether Republican or Democrat, the more digs because they are generally doing the country more damage.”

And finally, Rogers came to the conclusion more than 80 years ago that were things to change as the political pendulum swings: “A flock of Democrats will replace a mess of Republicans. It won’t mean a thing. They will go in like all the rest of ’em. Go in on promises and come out on alibis.”

Indeed, as the political parties continue to savagely club each other, the populace is left to credibly wonder “who’s taking care of the state, the nation, and our future?”
So right now, in this “season of peace,” perhaps just for a couple weeks they could put the clubs away … at least in Montana. There are no contested elections until 2024, and by next November we will all have been deluged with way more brutal partisan political attacks than any of us cares to endure.

Peace in the world is a laudable goal — and a temporary truce between Montana’s political partisans that leaves the national nastiness aside for a couple weeks would be a very welcome start.

George Ochenski is a longtime Helena resident, an environmental activist and Montana’s longest-running columnist.