Extremists benefit politically from crises. History is filled with endless stories of those that exploited people’s uncertainty and fear in their quest for political power. The great depression gave the world both Hitler and Roosevelt. Our most recent national experience with this phenomenon was the 2008-9 Great Recession which was integral in President Obama’s defeat of John McCain. The housing bubble burst, the Great Recession commenced, McCain was defeated soundly, and Obama elected. The lesson is clear – crises polarize voters.
Crisis causes stress. Stress leads to anger, uncertainty, and depression. Stressed people become vulnerable to the siren song of hardline sycophants and extreme ideologues. In Hitler’s Germany it was the Jews. In the Great Recession it was the greedy banks and corporations. The economic uncertainty induced by Covid 19 created an environment worse than the Great Recession, with “non-essential” workers, unemployment shutdowns, and riots. The response by Montana’s unscrupulous political actors was predictable. Let’s meet key “players.”
Playing the role of the “Buffoon” is none other than Public Service Commissioner Randy Pinocci. Randy is currently infamous for the chaos and disgrace he created within the Public Service Commission. This Great Falls Tribune article entitled “Fear and Loathing at the Montana PSC…” and this Billings Gazette article entitled “Montana’s PSC commissioners are spying on each other…” both provide a real glimpse into the empty suit that is Randy Pinnoci. Should you still be in doubt, ask conservative stalwart Roger Koopman what he thinks about Randy.
Not to be outdone, Representative Brad Tschida is playing the role of “Dear Leader”. Tschida, who likes to collect titles but avoid real work, is the consummate example of the Peter Principle. His “leadership” during the 66th legislative session effectively destroyed Republican unity. His leadership failures are so huge that keen political insiders consider Brad Tschida to be the worst Majority Leader in the history of the Montana House.
Recently these two simpletons penned an outrageous Facebook post declaring “victory” over Montana’a Conservative Solution Caucus(CSC) in the June 3rd primary elections and then, while caught up in the throes of their own lunacy and hubris, threatened every Montana small business owner for their political views by “putting on notice” the Montana Chamber of Commerce. Let’s now consider their main contentions:
Contention: Montana State Government grew out of control because of the CSC. Fact: Montana is one of the nation’s best fiscally managed states – holding spending in real terms flat while reducing government employment. These facts are easily verified but, once again, Tschida and Pinnoci never let facts get in the way of a good tall tale. We usually label this behavior “lying” but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt by simply assuming they are just too ignorant to know better.
Contention: The CSC had a bad night in the primary. The CSC did have some disappointments and lost some valued incumbents. However, so did the extremists, with their chosen antivaxxer incumbents Greg DeVries, Rodney Garcia, and David Dunn losing. And in new seats, the CSC had several pickups.
In short, despite ruthless attacks by extremists, the CSC is effectively the exact same size in 2020 as it was in 2019, thus ensuring that it will be a key player in the next legislative session. Again, however, neither “Dear Leader” nor the “Buffoon” can be relied on to accurately count into double digits.
Now, let’s consider the wisdom of these two dandies threatening to “put on notice” the Montana Chamber or any other group. First, it is illegal for a legislator to use his or her position to threaten anyone. Next, why wouldn’t the members of the Chamber have the right to free speech or to support candidates of their choosing? These two hypocrites claim to support free speech. And finally, the Montana Chamber is the state’s largest business organization with members in almost every town. Could it be that the Chamber might have some real world insight into business issues?
“Dear Leader” Brad Tschida and “Buffoon” Randy Pinnoci are best known for their ability to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. By threatening the membership of organizations Republicans must rely on to win in the fall – they are on course to defeat Gianforte, Rosendale, and Daines in November’s general election.