When confronted with a mob, Montana’s congressional delegation fled to safety. Capitol Hill cops didn’t. One died in service of our country, facing down the mob versus running for his safety. Political courage comes easy in America; few politicians sacrifice anything other than ego or their seat when having the courage to speak their truth and take positions that may not be popular.
Sen. Steve Daines and Congressman Matt Rosendale decided before last week’s chaos to object to several states’ presidential electors duly certified slates. That decision runs afoul of conservative Republican principles of originalism and federalism. Since the regulation of elections is left to each state to determine, Congress should respect the states’ autonomy to certify their respective elections as valid. By objecting, Daines and Rosendale disavow these conservative principles. Election fraud is litigated at the state level; it has no place in Congress once the courts determine state election laws were followed. If the state election law is flawed, it is up to each state legislature to revise those laws. This is an orderly response to legitimate election integrity concerns, preserves conservative republican principles, and prevents chaos.
But what is worse than having a casual relationship with conservative principles as an elected Republican is not having any principles at all. Daines revealed to all of us last week he is not a principled leader. What he espoused as the “right” thing to do on Tuesday – objecting to the state electors – suddenly became the “wrong” thing to do on Wednesday. Yet, no new evidence related to objecting to state electors was revealed by the attack on the Capitol. What was revealed is Daines’ basis for objecting was political theater, not conviction. And that fact tells us more about Daines and his character than any other. When asked about his campaign’s texts to donors about needing financial support because Democrats were “stealing” the election, Daines responded:
“To be straight up, I don’t even see a fundraising text. There’s another group that takes care of our fundraising texts. I know we’ve all become probably a little too cavalier in believing it’s easy to distinguish between campaign fundraising hyperbole versus the work of governing.”
After he is elected, Daines informs us that he is not who he or his campaign portends him to be. He admits we cannot trust what his campaign tells us. That information sure would have been nice for us to know before the November election. Between his casual relationship with conservative principles of governing and his admission that he has no control over his campaign or its statements on his behalf, Daines revealed his authentic self last week. And with this revelation, Montana is left to endure six more years of his vacuous representation.
Tammi Fisher is an attorney and former mayor of Kalispell.
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