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The record is clear: The GOP can’t govern

by By GEORGE OCHENSKI
| April 12, 2024 7:00 AM

It’s one thing to win elections by bashing government and falsely promising to do a better job.  It’s quite another to actually govern when you win those elections.  And in that regard, the record is crystal clear at both the state and national level that the Republicans are incapable and incompetent when it actually comes to governing. 

At the national level one need look no further than the chaos in the House of Representatives under the thin Republican majority – which grows thinner by the day as more members reject the MAGA nonsense and resign. 

When’s the last time you recall the House operating efficiently, bringing forth and considering the vital measures to ensure the federal government is funded and functional?  Here’s a hint: Not since the Republicans took the majority, elected, then rejected, Speaker Kevin McCarthy for trying to keep the government running and replaced him with an even more right-wing speaker, Mike Johnson.  

But now Johnson faces his own “motion to vacate” filed by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, from the so-called Freedom Caucus of which Montana’s outgoing Rep. Matt Rosendale is an avowed member. And why are these dysfunctional Republicans threatening another speaker? For doing his job and supporting a bill to fund the government initially, but now over giving aid to increasingly beleagured Ukraine in the face of Russia’s continuing war of aggression.

Closer to home, the list of GOP failures to govern is even more stunning. For a political party that won every statewide office in the last election, the extent of its dereliction of duty is shameful.

Perhaps the “leading loser” is Montana’s Attorney General Austin Knudsen, who continues to expand his record of losses in district and Supreme Court, spends inordinate amounts of time on issues outside of Montana’s borders, and as a new survey revealed, even the Highway Patrol has little confidence in his leadership.  One survey respondent wrote: “I have a difficult time trusting management above the unit supervisor,”  while another added: “They work for the optics.”  

Knudsen is the same guy who decided he should rewrite the language on the reproductive choice initiative — only to be summarily booted by the Supreme Court which then issued an order to Secretary of State, Christi Jacobsen, to immediately send out the initiative…which she failed to do.  

Leaping into that fray is none other than Senate President Jason Ellsworth, who has subpoened the Secretary of State for the materials in an attempt to not only keep the citizens of Montana from voting on reproductive rights, but subverting the Constitution’s very clear guarantee of the Citizen Initiative process. 

In the meantime, just in case one held out hope that our children’s education was perhaps clear of the GOP’s inability to govern comes Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen, who can’t seem to even get school districts their budgetary information.  As one school district superintendent put it: “OPI used to serve the schools that served the kids. That’s not our experience anymore.” 

Indeed, it’s so bad even a bipartisan group of legislators submitted a letter to Arntzen for failing to fulfill her “constitutional duties.” 

Then there’s Gov. Greg Gianforte who squandered a $2 billion surplus handed to the state from the federal government the GOP loves to hate. In the meantime, our citizens struggle with skyrocketing tax burdens while Gianforte seems to think his job is to “declare a disaster” and send Montana’s national guard troops to do vehicle maintenance on theTexas border.

The list of GOP incompetence and dereliction of duty is far too long for one column.  But this is what happens when you elect people who are blinded by ideology and routinely disparage government to actually run government — a total and complete failure to achieve the primary reason government exists, which is to “provide the greatest good for the greatest number.”

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