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More on Montana's "Republican" Senate Nominee:

Bob Kelleher was the surprise winner in Montana's Republican Senate primary this past week. He's a former Democrat who also ran for office on the Green Party ticket, though the Green Party has disavowed him. The Missoulian has more on him here.

For the last 44 years, Kelleher has run for office 16 times and lost 15. His only taste of victory came in 1971, when he was elected a delegate to Montana's Constitutional Convention. There, he helped replace the state's century-old territorial constitution with one of the most progressive governing documents in the nation. Kelleher's political passion then, as now, is unique - and largely unpopular: He wants to replace the U.S. Senate, House and presidency with a parliament.

Under a parliamentary system, citizens vote for parties, not individual candidates. The party with the most votes selects a prime minister, who serves as a kind of president, from the ranks of the legislative branch. Under a parliament, Kelleher said Wednesday, you can't have a president of one party playing the blame game with a Congress controlled by the opposing party while the nation's real problems and real people wait endlessly for real solutions.

"There's no more passing the buck," he said. "The party in power is responsible for everything that goes wrong, as well as everything that goes right. Now, nobody is responsible, really."

Such broad representation would free America to deal with the problems that have literally been known to bring tears to Kelleher's eyes: He is passionate about eradicating poverty. He believes health care is a right of all citizens and the government should pay for it with tax dollars. He believes bad trade policies have shipped American jobs overseas, while bad tax policy has created a startling dichotomy between rich and poor that threatens democracy itself. He believes government exists to serve the common good, not necessarily private interests, and that taxation, if spent wisely, is a solution to America's problems, not the cause.

Kelleher said he intends to campaign on those very issues, along with his long-held pro-life stance, in the general election against Baucus.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More on Montana's "Republican" Senate Nominee:
  2. Green Party Activist Wins GOP Senate Primary in Montana:
The River Temoc (mail):
Under a parliamentary system, citizens vote for parties, not individual candidates.

This is untrue, of course. In some places, you vote for a party. In others, you vote for an individual candidate in a constituency. And still other places have a hybrid system.

Baucus won't even work up a sweat.
6.8.2008 10:08am
Dave N (mail):
This actually will now set the Republican base vote for Montana (those who vote GOP under all circumstances) for a generation to come. My guess is between 22 and 25%.
6.8.2008 10:50am
TDPerkins (mail):
And if he reads the BBC much, he'll quickly realize that buck passing is not out of style--or even hampered--by a parliamentary system.

The only thing a parliamentary system can do--which is NOT a good thing--is permit those who are centrists within the scope of a party to ram through whatever harebrained ideas they come up with. The centrists within the scope of a party will necessarily not be centrists with respect to the larger body politic, so you get government policies which are much farther from what the populace endorses as a whole.

But, then from the descriptions of his other positions, he's an idiot.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
6.8.2008 10:55am
Uthaw:
The feature one has to like about the parliamentary system is that you're not necessarily stuck with an idiot for 4 to 8 years if he proves himself incompetent. Imagine if we coulda gotten rid of Clinton in 1993... or Bush in 2002...
6.8.2008 11:07am
TDPerkins (mail):
Uthaw, since you're claiming we replaced one idiot with another one, that would seem to be more of an argument against democracy at all.

Besides, what do you claim Bush did in from 2000 to 2002 that you think shows he's an idiot?

And frankly with Newt's republicans keeping Clinton's more damaging ideas from happening--gun bans excepted--he wasn't too bad in result. Something like actual welfare reform happened, for example, although not as good a reform as getting shut of it at the federal level would be.

Which come to think of it, is an argument for divided government.

Kelleher are you listening?
6.8.2008 11:31am
Parenthetical:

The feature one has to like about the parliamentary system is that you're not necessarily stuck with an idiot for 4 to 8 years if he proves himself incompetent.

Tempting indeed (of course, some parliamentary systems have both a PM and president).

As long as we got weekly PM Question time, I think it's a marvelous (if absurdly unlikely) idea.

As a bonus, it might even make third parties plausible in the U.S., at least in coalition govt's. It's hard to imagine that happening any other way.

I guess even nutcases can latch onto an intriguing idea every now and then.
6.8.2008 11:32am
TDPerkins (mail):

I guess even nutcases can latch onto an intriguing idea every now and then.


Intriguing only in a, "Let's ditch something the Founders did right!", sort of way.

You know like the 17th which disastrously enabled the federal bloat.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
6.8.2008 12:01pm
John (mail):
Oh, goodie.

Because government does not cause any of our problems.

Because the only solution for problems is from government.
6.8.2008 12:24pm
kevin r (mail):
And yet, Kelleher is still somehow not Montana's craziest politician: at least his skin isn't blue, unlike Stan Jones.
6.8.2008 12:42pm
ANDKEN (mail) (www):
Romano Prodi was a lame duck Prime Minister for a year.

Part of the problem of the parliamentary system is it´s instability when you have a more hetereogenous political climate. And considering that the allocation of Congressional Seats is something unfair(The Wyoming-California equation) this would be very undemocratic.
6.8.2008 1:44pm
Lior:
In a genuine parliamentary system (not what the British have) there would be no allocation of congressional seats at all: there's be 435 seats divided among parties according to the popular vote.

Certainly no-one has explained to me the rationale for requiring parties active at the Federal level to have local concentration of supporters. By definition federal issues are not state issues.
6.8.2008 2:31pm
Parenthetical:
ANDKEN,

Honestly, I don't take the proposal very seriously. An interesting thought experiment perhaps, but little more.
Part of the problem of the parliamentary system is it´s instability when you have a more hetereogenous political climate.

That certainly can be a feature of parliamentary systems. When you contrast Italy to Germany, however, you find dramatically different stability in the formation of governments despite superficially similar fractures in parliament. There's a lot of variation in parliamentary systems, both structurally and politically.

this would be very undemocratic.

It would certainly be a shock to American traditions of federal government. But "undemocratic" is not synonymous with "un-American." As you note, our federal republican form of government already has some features that look rather undemocratic.
6.8.2008 2:35pm
Parenthetical:
Lior:

In a genuine parliamentary system (not what the British have) there would be no allocation of congressional seats at all: there's be 435 seats divided among parties according to the popular vote.

I'm not sure I'd agree that is the defining characteristic of a parliamentary system.

Nor I am sure that I know who could speak authoritatively to what is or is not a parliament. I suppose that the word's origin counsels against calling the British parliament anything but genuine.

In any event, I'd put more importance on the prevailing party/coalition in the legislature forming the government rather than the precise mode of electing the parliament.
6.8.2008 2:50pm
Elliot123 (mail):
We should be able to test Kelleher's ideas by looking at periods in American histoy when one party controlled both the presidency and the Congress. I wonder what he finds so attractive about those periods?
6.8.2008 3:08pm
ReaderY:
Pro-life? Definitely a Republican.

You really think anyone actually cares about all that other stuff? Even reads it?
6.8.2008 3:42pm
Bob Goodman (mail) (www):
Being against legal abortions can indeed become a litmus test for a party in various jurisdictions after a long enough time over which the issue has been judicially fixed the other way. Is much known about the positions of the others who sought the Republican nomination?
6.8.2008 4:27pm
Porkchop:

His only taste of victory came in 1971, when he was elected a delegate to Montana’s Constitutional Convention. There, he helped replace the state’s century-old territorial constitution with one of the most progressive governing documents in the nation.


As I recall, Baucus was the President of the Montana constitutional convention, so Kelleher would have to share credit if that aspect of his "experience" comes up in the campaign.
6.8.2008 6:04pm
whit:

Such broad representation would free America to deal with the problems that have literally been known to bring tears to Kelleher’s eyes


um, no.

this supposes that "america" = the government.

as a (right leaning) libertarian, i don't believe that making it easier for CONGRESS to pass laws "frees america to deal with problems." frequently, the opposite is the case.

this is especially true when we are talking about a centralized government, in a nation of states.

it's a profoundly unlibertarian sentiment. and i use "sentiment" because it's too stupid to be declared as an "idea" :)

at least when we have a majority dem congress and repub president (or vice versa), we have some cross-obstruction. more often than not - that's a good thing.
6.8.2008 6:20pm
Splunge:
Apparently Kelleher spent those 44 years running hard, with no time to think a serious thought, or have a life, or get a clue.

I've rarely read a more boring mish-mash of stupid and unoriginal slogans pretending to be "ideas."
6.9.2008 5:37am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
It's all terrific, except for his goals. And "taxation spent wisely"???? Where's he going to get the wise men? Seems to me the more tax money we get, the fewer wise men and the more wise guys.
6.9.2008 8:53am
Bretzky (mail):
Bob Goodman:


Is much known about the positions of the others who sought the Republican nomination?

According to the AP, Kelleher's main rivals for the nomination were Kirk Bushman and Michael Lange.

Bushman's profile on Wikipedia states the following:

Bushman contends that a strong military is the government's top priority, but that money must be spent wisely. He favors a balanced budget. He supports increased border security and policies to deter businesses from hiring illegal immigrants. Bushman wants to reduce dependency on foreign nations for energy resources.

Bushman opposes any additional wilderness area on Montana, maintaining that doing so would not have a positive effect on the state's forests. He wants to make greater use of Montana's natural resources.


I couldn't find anything on Lange, except that he is a member of the Montana House of Representatives. He's also well-known for a profanity-laced tirade against Montana's governor that was caught on camera and posted to You Tube. Classy.
6.9.2008 12:08pm
Bob Goodman (mail) (www):
Is it possible, then, that Kelleher was identified as "the" anti-abortion candidate?
6.9.2008 12:25pm
Bretzky (mail):
Bob Goodman:


Is it possible, then, that Kelleher was identified as "the" anti-abortion candidate?

It's certainly possible. Although, I don't know enough (read: anything) about Montana politics to be able to say if that one issue alone would be enough to get a guy like Kelleher nominated for US Senate, even by the Republican Party. He seems to be way out of the mainstream of Republican Party politics regardless. I have a suspicion that Bushman and Lange probably have pretty good anti-abortion credentials as well.

I haven't seen the vote totals on this primary, but my suspicion is that most Republicans didn't even bother to vote and Kelleher has a die-hard following that came out in support. I'd be willing to bet that the number of people who voted was low, even compared to other Montana US Senate primary races.
6.9.2008 1:31pm
Kirk Dooley (mail):
During the 1971 Con-Con, in which Kelleher was a delegate, Max Baucus was a member of the Delegates' staff, assisting them with questions of law (Max had just graduated from the University of Montana Law School). The president of the assembly was the late Leo Greybull of Great Falls, who thought Bob was a bit nutty. He was not alone in that opinion, I do believe.

The question of making the Montana Legislature a parliamentary body was placed on the ballot as a separate question from the Constitution itself. (Kelleher visited our high school -- Billings West High -- pushing the idea, even though none of us were actually eligible to vote at the time.) The Constitution passed -- barely. Kelleher's question went down in flames by a 5-1 margin.

My guess is that the Republican voters of Big Sky Country were so disgusted by the quality of candidates available for their voting pleasure, that they voted for Kelleher because "None of the Above" wasn't available. (One of the candidates, Mike Lange, became famous on YouTube because he went ballistic against the Governor in a Republican caucus -- which thanks to the very Constitution Kelleher helped draft -- was open to the public, including TV news crews. One of Lange's milder statements invited Governor Schweitzer to take his budget and insert it in a bodily orifice. And Lange was House majority leader at the time.)
6.9.2008 11:31pm