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.
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