I should have known it was too good to be true.
For a brief, shining moment it appeared as though the Montana Republican Party was standing up to be counted. At the partyís state convention in Billings last weekend, delegates voted overwhelmingly against continuing to allow nonparty members to vote in their primary elections.
Whoa! That would be revolutionary! In order to help select Republican candidates, you would actually have to declare you were a Republican!
Outrageous, said the Democrats! We often donít have anyone to vote for in our own primaries, and we donít want to be deprived of the opportunity to have a meaningful vote in June!
Meaningful? The only meaning to be found in Democrats voting for Republican candidates in June is the opportunity for them to sabotage conservative candidates by nominating Republicans who will run like Democrats in November.
Doesnít seem fair, does it? But Democrats love this system, and so do Republicans who vote like Democrats after they are elected. But plain old Republicans who vote like Republicans (namely who stand by core conservative constitutional principles) are the Charlie Brown of politics.
They left Billings last Saturday thinking they had kicked a game-changing field goal, and it wasnít until two days later that they woke up and realized the so-called Responsible Republicans had grabbed the football and run the entire length of the field to score a touchdown for the opposing team.
State Republican Chairman Will Deschamps told reporter Chuck Johnson Monday that the party wasnít going to take any action to stop open primaries. He said it would be up to the 2015 Legislature.
Yeah, the 2015 Legislature that almost certainly will consist of a nominal Republican majority and a de facto Democratic minority aided and abetted by a group of liberal Republicans ďrepaying the favor.Ē
Ummm, not gonna happen. And even if it did, no chance that Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock would sign it into law.
The only real alternative to bring about a closed primary is a federal lawsuit arguing that the rights of Montana Republicans to control their own partyís destiny are being violated by the current system. Similar lawsuits have prevailed in a number of states, including Idaho in 2011, but Montanaís Republican leadership seems content to keep letting Democrats pick Republican nominees. Makes you wonder what they gain by the arrangement.
Bowen Greenwood, the Montana GOPís executive director, told Associated Press reporter Lisa Baumann, ďthe party is focused on the Nov. 4 general electionĒ and that he ďwouldnít recommend any action before then.Ē
That makes it sound like fighting for a closed primary is a distraction from electing Republicans, but of course the two issues are fundamentally related. The sooner a lawsuit is filed, the sooner the Republican Party can nominate candidates who will run on Republican principles.
Imagine that! As John Lennon said about another lost cause, itís easy if you try.