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The Republican Freedom Coalition

by Montana Rep. Joe Balyeat
Chairman, Republican Liberty Caucus
Director, Montana Shooting Sports Association

April 10, 2002

Back in 1924, one national political party platform contained the ominous warning: "Every generation must wage a new war for freedom against new forces which seek through new devices to enslave the citizenry." As Montanans enter a new millennium, we also enter a new struggle for political freedom as well. This last decade has seen a new movement on Montana and across the United States to band together for the sake of preserving our individual freedoms against a runaway bureaucracy. This movement includes many people of diverse perspectives: people concerned about high taxes, government reformers, libertarians, "red tape" weary small businessmen, religious conservatives, gun rights advocates, worker rights and property rights supporters. Most of these good people are drawn together by one main issue - Their common denominator is freedom.

All of these same groups joined together in 1994 to bring about the Republican revolution. I call it the "Freedom Coalition". None of these good people want to take anything out of government, each simply seeks freedom from overbearing government to practice individual liberty. The essential ingredient – all these people have their finger on the pulse of freedom. And together we have a vision of Montana for our children to share.

Our vision is of a Montana where small business entrepreneurs can start businesses and provide services and jobs for their fellow Montanans, free from oppressive taxation and ridiculous regulations. We see a Montana where landowners who love their land, and have nurtured it their whole life long, are free to use it and care for it the way they feel best, with no government bureaucrat saying he knows better or cares more.

We see a Montana where parents can freely choose to educate their children in the way they see fit, without fear of reprisal from social engineers who claim they know better. We see a Montana where individuals are free to practice and express their beliefs without intimidation or indoctrination from "politically correct" thought police.

We envision a Montana where individuals are free to keep their own money in their own pockets, or spend it on their own causes; with no government official insisting he can spend it wiser or for a better cause. And we see a Montana where all Montanans are free from the overwhelming burden of a tax system which presently makes them slaves to government for almost half the year.

And in recent years, a new group has been added to the freedom coalition - hundreds of thousands of voters who feel robbed of their most basic political freedom - disenfranchised of their right to vote for the issue or representative of their choice. These 1000's upon 1000's have been outraged by the utter contempt for the voters and our elected representatives displayed by the leftwing Montana Supreme Court – decision after decision over-riding our elected legislature, over-riding voter approved tax initiatives, and even over-riding their own prior decisions whenever it is in their liberal political interest to do so.

So the ranks of Montana's Republican Freedom Coalition have swelled to formidable proportions; and is it any wonder? It is relatively easy to maintain our Republican coalition because of our common denominator – Freedom. The democrats, on the other hand, must attempt to sustain an unstable coalition which is doomed to failure from the start. Their coalition is of truly strange bedfellows, who each want to get their own special "benefits" out of government. Environmental extremists; blue collar unions, radical gay activists, government employees, etc.

Each of these self-interest groups can only get what they want out of government at the expense of everybody else --- even at the expense of the other interest groups who make up their fragile coalition. And as each group gets a concession from government on some new special right or benefit for their group, they must press for even further (and more extreme) concessions in order to maintain the viability and sense of purpose for their various organizations. So, eventually, this fragile coalition is doomed to disintegrate – blue collar union workers can only tolerate so much anti-jobs extreme environmentalism, and elderly social security recipients can only tolerate so much radical gay activism, etc.

The Democrats’ coalition of government "demanders" is, thus, doomed to failure; while the Republican Freedom Coalition is destined to succeed. Republicans can look to the future with confidence through the eyes of Abraham Lincoln. Back in 1856, when his political views and Republican Party were still very much the minority, he stated prophetically: "We will make converts day by day; we will grow strong by the injustice of our adversaries. And, unless truth be a mockery and justice a hollow lie, we will be in the majority after a while, and then the revolution which we will accomplish will be nonetheless radical from being the result of peaceful measures. The battle of freedom is to be fought out on principle."

So, the only way we can’t succeed is if we lose sight of the very thing which holds us together – Freedom. We must not (as Benjamin Franklin warned) "trade freedom for security." As we have become the majority party, as we have assumed the reigns of power, we must resist the temptation to use that power just like the Democrats use political power – to get some special payoff out of government for our own special interest group.

We must continue to inculcate the next generation of Republicans with the truths handed down from the founding fathers. And this truth being paramount -- that government is not God. Many have been indoctrinated with the false notion that government is the answer to our prayers. That every individual problem can be cured by another government program, and every societal ill can be solved by another government regulation. So we have replaced the Ten Commandments with the Ten Thousand Regulations. We have transformed government from being a protector, to being a provider. While our founders understood government to simply be a protector of individual freedom – many now see it as a provider of every need and every comfort from the cradle to the grave. Rather than simply protecting our property rights, protecting our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness- government has now become the very provider of that happiness.

But you see our individual right to pursue happiness is a very different thing than a guarantee that government provide happiness. And when we turn that corner from government as protector of rights and freedoms, towards government as provider of things, the answer to every need and prayer, we have set up a false god which will ultimately fail and gobble up freedom in the process.

I, for one, have hope that the Montana Republican Freedom Coalition will continue to see that vital distinction. I envision a Montana on the verge of a new renaissance for lovers of freedom. I envision a future where Montana men and women engage in self-government; exercising individual freedom and responsibility and interacting with one another in a prosperous free economic marketplace and a free marketplace of ideas as well. I envision a Montana where state government is once again put back in its place as a servant to the people, and freedom reigns in the affairs of Montana men and women. I believe I share with you that vision for a truly free and prosperous Montana, something we can proudly pass on to our children and to our grandchildren – the next generation of the Freedom Coalition.

(Rep. Joe Balyeat is chairman of the Montana Republican Liberty Caucus, and a member of the Montana Republican Executive Board.)


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There is no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. — Ayn Rand in her must-read novel, Atlas Shrugged

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