The Split in the Republican Party

By Beacon Staff

With our U.S. debt and liberal entitlements front and center in Washington these days, our inability to hammer out sensible and responsible solutions, both here in Montana and in Washington, is ultimately going to be blamed on the split in the Republican Party if we’re not careful.

Most Republicans have common goals: limited government, fewer regulations, less spending, responsible natural resource development, a friendly business climate – but a different strategy on how to achieve those goals. Unfortunately, we’ve allowed those differences in strategy to divide us so deeply that we don’t seem to be able to even pull together to provide effective alternatives to the big government, tired liberal tax-and-spend agenda promoted by the Democrats.

So here Republicans sit, split down the middle, circling all our wagons and shooting inward at ourselves, rather than outward at what we believe threatens our future prosperity. Some within our party are spending more effort on destroying fellow Republicans over their ideology, rather than focusing on the hard work of trying to lead both sides to find responsible solutions. We seem to be fighting over fence lines with our neighbors while everyone else is focused on the wildfire burning in the hills.

Leadership means coming up with solutions. Just saying “NO” to everything the Democrats propose isn’t leadership and isn’t going to solve anything. Unless Republicans start paying attention to the real problems, our “just say no” policy is going to do nothing but earn us a 10-year trip into the minority.

As a society, we seem to be losing the ability to disagree without being disagreeable, and as elected officials, we seem to be losing sight of the fact that we help set that tone. We need responsible leadership on both sides of the aisle, who can focus on the real problems facing Montana businesses and families, and who will think about what’s best our future. The question is, “Do we have the willpower to move forward with some new thinking, or are we going to keep attacking fellow conservative and just dig a deeper hole?”

We need a responsible plan by responsible people for the Republican Party to be relevant now and in the future. Threats of a government shutdown, sending ideologically-driven bills to a Democratic governor, and continuing to ignore the real problems of Montanans is going to fuel the flames of the growing crisis and leave Republicans in the minority. Who will lead us out of this crisis? If Republicans cannot pull together under new and sensible leadership, the Democrats are well-positioned and well-funded enough to take the wheel here and in Washington D.C.

Sen. Jim Peterson, R-Buffalo has served in the Montana Legislature since 2002 and was state Senate president during the 2011 session.

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