I’ve spent considerable time pondering the Montana Republican Party’s rebuke and excommunication of Marc Racicot. It’s clear to me and other conservatives who know Marc well that it’s the party’s leaders – not him – who have abandoned principle.
My family has called Montana home for six generations. I served in Republican Gov. Judy Martz’s cabinet and as chief of staff for Republican Attorney General Tim Fox. I’ve spent plenty of time living in the Helena political world, and I can’t recall anything quite as embarrassing for my home state as the recent actions of the state party’s executive committee.
Throughout his distinguished career, Marc Racicot has served the citizens of his state and country with fidelity, humility, and courage. He has done so at great cost to his family, as anyone in public service can attest.
I offer my heartfelt sympathy to Marc’s family for having to see his good name dragged through the mud by the Montana Republican Party’s leaders. To the nation, I offer an apology for their petulant behavior. Montanans are passionate and independent-minded people; we are not the ignorant, intolerant sort of people who can be told what to think by political insiders.
Anyone who knows Marc or has truly listened to him knows he is a man of civility, integrity, principle, character, kindness, compassion, wisdom, and love. Yet for the most part, few know or will remember the names on a party committee who pretend to speak with a mandate from Montanans. Most Republicans I know are neither vindictive nor mean-spirited. They are thoughtful and civil citizens, uninterested in the party’s inner machinations and ideological purity tests.
As Montana’s attorney general and then as governor, Marc led with maturity and wisdom. That’s why the Republican Party called upon him, time and again, to lead and serve at the state and national levels. As chairman of the Republican National Committee, Marc led the national party with acumen and fidelity, never forgetting his Montana roots. At home and in Washington DC, he epitomized leadership in action. The act of excommunicating him from the party, the temerity to tell journalists that they dare not refer to him as a Republican – these are the cruel and arrogant moves of people without maturity or wisdom.
True to form, Marc has responded to the party’s childish assault with grace and civility – traits all too uncommon in Montana politics today. In that sense, Marc has not changed, but the Montana Republican Party’s leaders certainly have changed.
Instead of sowing division and rancor, the leaders of Montana’s Republican Party should look to the principled, pragmatic statesmanship of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. These men held our nation together through turbulent events that threatened its very existence. Marc Racicot is a humble man who would never count himself among such American heroes. But here in our own small corner of the country, we Montanans can count Marc as a truly great leader of our era.
I pray for his health and happiness, for blessings upon his family. And I also pray he continues to speak his mind. We are better for it.
Scott Darkenwald lives in Whitefish.
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