How Dan Happel would destroy Montana’s GOP

by Dr. Ed Berry

On June 27, some 300 representatives of Montana’s Republican Party will elect their next chairman. They have three choices: Will Deschamps, Chairman since 2009; Jeff Essmann, Representative from Billings; and Dan Happel, former Madison County Commissioner.

What’s at stake in this election of a Party chairman?

The job of a Party chairman is to win elections. Happel’s plan is not about winning elections and it won’t win elections. Happel wants to change the Party into his own image rather than win elections.

Dan Happel thinks he can fix the fracture in the Republican Party by empowering the group that causes the fracture. His plan won’t work and it shows he does not understand the Republican Party.

The split in the Republican Party is caused by two opposing ideologies. The first three factions of the Republican Party support the moral, logical, and ethical True Voting Principle ideology. Dan Happel’s minority 20-percent faction is a cult that supports the immoral, illogical, and unethical False Voting Mantras ideology.

My article “Why the Republican Party is fractured” shows how Republicans fall into four factions with approximate composition shown in parentheses:

Somewhat Conservatives (40%) are not vocal but always back the winner. They like cautious conservatives and don’t like radicals.

Moderates to Liberals (30%) prefer secular, less fiscally-concerned conservatives. They oppose overtly religious candidates. If their candidate is weak, they will back the Somewhat Conservatives candidate.

Very Conservative but Seculars (10%) like urbane, fiscally oriented men. When their candidate loses ground they will back the Somewhat Conservatives candidate

Very Conservative Evangelicals (20%) prefer candidates “who are very open about their religious beliefs, place a high priority on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion, and see the United States in decline because of its movement away from the faith and moral codes of its past.”

In the 2014 Republican primary for US Congress, Dan Happel campaigned for Matt Rosendale. Rosendale was the favorite of the Very Conservative Evangelicals, or 20 percent, of the Republican Party. Ken Miller, the Very Conservative Evangelicals candidate for governor in 2012, also supported Matt Rosendale.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with supporting your favorite candidate in the primary. The test of allegiance to the Republican Party is in who you support in the final election.

Ryan Zinke won the Republican primary for US Congress. Afterward, neither Matt Rosendale nor Ken Miller would support Ryan Zinke against the Democrat.

Ryan Zinke showed the Republican Party how to win elections. He won his election to US Congress with support of the three Republican factions that total 80 percent while the fourth 20-percent faction of Dan Happel’s Very Conservative Evangelicals opposed him.

Zinke proved Republicans don’t need the Very Conservative Evangelical Tea Party to win elections. Although it would help to have their 20-percent support, it is not worth selling the heart and soul of the Republican Party to the false principles of a cult to get their support.

Dan Happel makes his plan for chairman clear. He wants to remove from the Party those Republicans who sometimes vote the same as Democrats. Happel is oblivious to the reasons good Republicans sometimes vote the same as Democrats. They do so on non-partisan bills where truth rather than politics should determine the vote.

Happel’s Very Conservative Evangelicals do not understand how to put truth before politics. Happel would have Republicans reject truth when the Democrats are on the side of truth.

Happel wants to gut from the Republican Party candidates from the first three 80-percent majority, and replace them with candidates from his 20-percent, irrational minority.

Read Happel’s plan carefully. Happel’s plan is not about helping Republicans beat Democrats in the final elections. Happel’s plan is about helping his Very Conservative Evangelical Tea Party win the primary elections. In Happel’s view this means to make sure a Rosendale beats a Zinke. Happel’s plan will guarantee Republicans lose to Democrats in the final elections.

Dan Happel proposes to replace Zinke’s winning methods with the consistently losing methods of the Very Conservative Evangelical Tea Party. Happel wants to artificially empower his Very Conservative Evangelical Tea Party so they would dominate and control Montana’s Republican Party.

It’s OK to push your Very Conservative Evangelical Tea Party on your own time. But it is not OK to push your radical faction as chairman of the Montana Republican Party. The Montana Republican Party must work for all Republicans, not just the radical 20 percent.

Happel wants to push the radical 20 percent at the expense of the whole Republican Party. Happel’s plan would end Montana’s Republican Party as we know it.

Will the 300 elect Dan Happel? I don’t know because I don’t know the political demographics of the 300 who will elect him. I do know the Very Conservative Evangelicals have worked hard to elect their people to the Central Committees and these are the people who will vote.

If the 300 elect Happel, the Very Conservative Evangelical Tea Party Libertarians will control Montana’s Republican Party. Democrats will celebrate because they will know Dan Happel will do more to damage the Republican Party than anything the Democrats could ever do. It will be a social and political disaster for Republicans.

Dan Happel is a Trojan Horse.

Some Very Conservative Evangelical Tea Party Libertarians will say this is a personal attack on Dan Happel. It is not a personal attack. It is a necessary review of how Happel’s personal politics would destroy the Montana Republican Party if he were chairman.

Should he win, Dan Happel said he will bring in and empower the Very Conservative Evangelical Tea Party Libertarians. Who are these people?

They are the far-right 20-percent minority faction of the Republican Party. They can’t win statewide elections because they are too Evangelical and extreme for the Republican 80-percent majority.

Happel’s people trashed Republican nominees in statewide elections. They voted Libertarian to “teach Republicans a lesson.” They believe only Very Conservative Evangelicals are suitable candidates.

But for Happel’s Very Conservative Evangelicals who voted Libertarian rather than Republican, Republican Rick Hill would be Montana’s governor, Republican Denny Rehberg would be our US Senator, and Republican Sandy Welsh would be Montana’s Superintendent of Education.

And nationally, but for them, Mitt Romney might be our president. Very Conservative Evangelicals helped re-elect Obama because Mitt Romney, being a Mormon, was “not good enough for them.” So they helped elect a Muslim instead.

Very Conservative Evangelicals claim to support our Constitution but they reject the fundamental principle our Founding Fathers used to create our Constitution, namely, the True Voting Principle.

Very Conservative Evangelicals are the enemy within the Republican Party. Happel wants to empower them.

Dan Happel’s speech to the Republican Party shows he does not understand the Party.

Dan Happel revealed his plans for Chairman of Montana’s Republican Party at Madison County’s Lincoln/Reagan dinner on May 9th. According to the Carbon County News, here’s how Dan Happel would destroy Montana’s Republican Party if they elect him Chairman:

  1. He said, Bring in the constitutional conservatives, Tea Party, and Libertarians to defragment the Montana GOP.
  2. He said, “They are an informed and energetic and growing segment of Montana voters.”
  3. He said, “We’ve been excluded for a long time.”
  4. He said, do not lure “fiscal and social liberals or progressives to vote Republican.”
  5. He said, strengthen the Conservative message.
  6. He said, stop Republican legislators from voting with the Democrats.

Dan Happel also penned a public letter that you may have read. I include Happel’s public letter with my comments at the end of this article.

1. Happel says: Bring in the constitutional conservatives, Tea Party, and Libertarians to defragment the Montana GOP.

Dan Happel does not understand why the Republican Party is fractured. Until you understand Why the Republican Party is fractured, you can’t fix it.

Happel’s Very Conservative Evangelicals are a 20-percent minority of the Republican Party. That’s’ why they get only 20 percent of the Republican vote in the primary elections. They vote Libertarian to “send a message” to the 80 percent, as if the 20 percent will ever change the 80 percent. It won’t happen.

The reason for the Republican fracture is opposing ideologies. The Republican 80-percent majority uses the true voting ideology. The Tea Party 20 percent minority uses the false voting ideology.

Happel thinks he can “merge” the two opposing factions of the Republican Party. No one can merge two opposite and competing ideologies. Worse, he thinks he can put the minority in control of the party.

The tail can’t wag the dog. The only way to put the Republican Party together again is for the tail to follow the dog. Happel wants the tail to wag the dog!

2. Happel says: They are an informed and energetic and growing segment of Montana voters. 

Happel’s faction is “energetic” but they are misinformed and not growing. Contrary to Happel’s claim, Data show the Very Conservative Evangelical Tea Party is not “taking over” the Republican Party and, for all its divisive actions, has not made the Republican Party more conservative.

If Happel claims Deschamps is responsible for 2012 Republican losses then Happel will be wrong. Voting data clearly show Happel’s Very Conservative Evangelical Tea Party caused these Republican losses by voting Libertarian. They are very much misinformed.

3. Happel Says: “We’ve been excluded for a long time.”

Happel’s use of “We’ve” proves he is squarely in the camp of the Very Conservative Evangelical Tea Party Libertarians.

The Republican Party did not exclude the Tea Party Libertarians, as Happel claims. They excluded themselves by their own irrational ideology and actions.

Happel’s people rolled a grenade into the Republican tent and destroyed good Republican candidates. They helped elect Democrats. If they want back in the tent they must first admit they are wrong, apologize for their bombing, and prove their support by backing the Republican nominees in the 2016 and 2018 elections.

Dan Happel helps the radical Oath Keepers.

Happel’s “We’ve” includes Oath Keepers Founder and Executive Director Stewart Rhodes, and Oath Keepers National Chaplain Pastor Chuck Baldwin. New York State declared Oath Keepers to be “extremists.” These Oath Keepers leaders are among Happel’s Very Conservative Evangelicals whom he will empower if the 300 elect him chairman.

These Oath Keepers leaders consistently trash Republican candidates. They preach the radical False Voting Mantra ideology. They reject the True Voting Principle ideology that formed our Constitution. Therefore, Oath Keepers are “Oath Breakers.”

Oath Keepers attracts people who believe they will have to take on the US government when the government declares marital law. The Mother Jones article “Oath Keepers and the Age of Treason” tells of Private 1st Class Lee Pray who is saving up $5600 to buy a Bushmaster .50 caliber bolt action rifle with a 2500-yard range to prepare for his inevitable shoot-out with the government.

Bill O’Reilly interviewed Stewart Rhodes about Oath Keepers. When Rhodes said his goal is to inspire soldiers and police to disobey “unconstitutional” orders, O’Reilly responded, “if it’s a matter of interpretation, you could have anarchy easily.”

Happel participated as a key player in the 2015 Oath Keepers movie “Midnight Ride” with Stewart Rhodes and Chuck Baldwin. Midnight Ride is an anti-government, extremist, monumentally ignorant, conspiracy-theory sales pitch to get you to join Oath Keepers so Stewart Rhodes can save America.

Happel’s participation in the movie shows his lack of common sense and political awareness. Midnight Ride says Oath Keepers will “revitalize” the state Militias under the command of Stewart Rhodes. Then Oath Keepers Militias will improve the “checks and balances” between the Federal government and the States. And viola, Oath Keepers will save our economy.

As I wrote in my movie review, if you believe the movie’s pitch then I have a bridge to sell you.

Rebuttal to a challenge

Two readers of my previous article challenged me in private emails about my linking Dan Happel with Oath Keepers. They said my logic was bad. I won’t tell you their names because they did not make their challenges public and I respect private communications.

They said I was wrong to accuse Dan Happel of the Oath Keepers’ beliefs just because he participated in their movie. They said I used the false logic of “guilt by association.”

They make a sophomoric accusation. When these challengers grow up and continue their education, they will realize I used the valid logical construct of “guilt by participation” and not “guilt by association.”

The difference is if you happen to be a customer in a bank when a gang robs the bank, that’s association. But if you chose to be part of the gang that robs the bank, that’s participation. The legal consequences are quite different.

Dan Happel was not an innocent bystander when the movie happened. He purposely participated in the Oath Keepers movie. He chose to climb in bed with well-known Republican enemies. And now he wants to lead the Republican Party. I stand by my case.

4. Happel says: Do not lure fiscal and social liberals or progressives to vote Republican.

A Party Chairman’s job is to win elections. Normally in life, if we want to win, we emulate the winners. Not Happel. He wants to emulate the losers.

Ryan Zinke proved Dan Happel and his Tea Party Libertarians are wrong about elections. Ryan Zinke showed how Republicans can win without Evangelical Tea Party support. Ryan Zinke played perfect political science in his campaign. He aimed for the dominant 80 percent Republican vote plus the Independent vote.

Happel would abandon Zinke’s method that works and promote the Tea Party method that doesn’t work. Happel wants to turn the successful Party of Ryan Zinke into an insignificant microcosm of the political spectrum.

Happel caters only to the Republican 20-percent Tea Party radicals who are always losers and always will be losers. They are only 10 percent of the voting population. This is not a basis to be Chairman of the Montana GOP.

5. Happel says: Strengthen the Conservative message.

Here’s Ryan Zinke’s conservative message that won.

  • Grow the Economy and Control Spending
  • Promote Energy Independence
  • Lower Health Care Costs
  • Expand Education Opportunities
  • Protect the Second Amendment
  • Promote Conservative Family Values

Happel does not like Zinke’s message. It’s not “strong” enough for him. It worked, but Happel is not happy.

Here are some messages Happel may prefer. They are by Happel’s Very Conservative Evangelical friends that he would empower:

On November 6, 2012, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes wrote:

“Today, on election day, Denny Rehberg deserves to go down in flames just like Conrad Burns did in 2006.”

In 2012, Stewart Rhodes preached to his Oath Keepers:

“Romney is an oath breaking traitor. You vote for him, or support him, you become one too.”

In 2012, Oath Keepers National Chaplain Pastor Chuck Baldwin wrote:

“… the differences between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are miniscule.”

“… a Romney-Ryan administration will do nothing to change the downward spiral of the nation. They will continue the fanatical interventionist, preemptive war policies of Obama and Bush. They will also continue to build and construct the Orwellian domestic Police State …”

In 2014, Chuck Baldwin wrote “Ryan Zinke: The Greater Evil.” Baldwin’s logic is wrong. His morals are wrong. His politics are wrong. Here’s a quote:

“Again, if you want to use the hackneyed cliché that we must vote for ‘the lesser of two evils,’ then the Democrat John Lewis is your man, because Ryan Zinke–like the rest of these big-government, pro-war, pro-Police State Neocon Republicans–is definitely the GREATER EVIL.”

“As for me, I don’t vote for ‘the lesser of two evils.’ But, I can tell you this: the Republican Ryan Zinke scares me a whole lot more than the Democrat John Lewis. And that’s a fact.”

Here’s my rebuttal to Chuck Baldwin in defense of Ryan Zinke.

Who are the real conservatives?

Conservatives are not Happel’s people who reject the True Voting Principle. Conservatives are not Happel’s people who can’t tell the difference between Republicans and Democrats. Conservatives are not those who think conservative means a high Koopman TAB score. See my article Why Koopman’s TAB Scores don’t work. Happel is wrong.

Morrie Shechtman challenged the Very Conservative Evangelicals in his speech to Republicans on July 23, 2010:

“When the right talks about the two hot button issues – gay marriage and abortion – their intention is not to initiate a debate on issues of social policy. On the contrary, their agenda is to impose their religious doctrine on the society as a whole. Whether it is evangelical Christianity, fundamentalism, or other orthodoxies, the mission is clear. You either believe what we do, about these issues, or you are wrong and evil.”

Jerry Molen produced the outstanding movie America by Dinesh D’Souza. Watch the movie or read D’Souza’s book America or both.

Dinesh D’Souza‘s America is a conservative message. He shows how Republicans work to build up America while Democrats work to tear down America.

Happel’s Very Conservative Evangelicals also work to tear down America when they help elect Democrats. Since Happel’s faction helps tear down America, they are most certainly not conservatives.

Obama says we cannot create wealth, we can only steal it. Republicans say we can create wealth from nothing by using our ingenuity and hard work. This Republican message is correct. This is how we built America.

Good Democrats join with Republicans on this true principle that we can create wealth from nothing. It is the Obama Democrats who want to tear down America.

Obama Democrats believe we must deconstruct America back into a second world nation. They want China to rule America. Republicans and good Democrats disagree. D’Souza asks,

“What is the value of America?”

and answers:

“To see what I mean, imagine if we discovered a new planet rich in minerals and energy but inhabited by peaceful aliens. Would America regard it as right to conquer them and take their stuff? No, we no longer have the conquest ethic. But the Chinese do; they have never given it up.

“This is why the world still needs America. We remain the custodians of the idea that wealth should be obtained through invention and trade, not through forced seizure.”

These are major differences between the parties that Happel’s myopic faction does not understand. They don’t understand true conservative messages.

6. Happel says: Stop Republican legislators from voting with the Democrats.

Happel would replace real Republicans who can think with robots who would simply wait to see how the Democrats vote and then vote the opposite. We can train a monkey to do this.

There are good reasons why Republicans sometimes vote the same as Democrats. On non-partisan bills, truth should prevail over politics. Good “conservative” Republicans will vote for truth on a non-partisan bill.

But Happel’s faction will not join real Republicans in truth. They think they must always vote opposite to the Democrats to be a “conservative” even when the Democrats are right.

Review of Happel’s public letter.

Happel talks about “constitutional principles” but his ideology denies the True Voting Principle that was the basis of our Constitution.

Happel suggests Ryan Zinke’s election “will lead to the ultimate destruction of the Montana Republican Party.” The truth is Happel’s vision will destroy the party because it goes in the wrong direction.

Happel’s friends – Chuck Baldwin, Matt Rosendale, and Ken Miller – did not want Ryan Zinke elected. The Republican Party needs a chairman who supports Ryan Zinke and his methods to elect Republicans.

Happel believes the “conservative Republican base that is being held hostage by a handful of folks that do not believe in our conservative values or our platform.” Happel is all mixed up. He thinks his 20-percent radical minority is the “conservative Republican base” when it is not. Happel thinks the the 80-percent majority are only a “handful of folks.”

Happel’s “re-vitalized Montana Republican Party” is code for a Tea-Party-controlled Republican Party. It would be as successful as the liberal Green Party.

Happel’s priority is “protection of liberty for the future generations of Montanans instead of winning at any cost.” The problem is, as Happel would know if he had read Alinsky, if you don’t win then all your politics is a waste of time and money. Happel has not shown, nor can he show, that his plan will protect liberty.

Happel wants the Montana Republican Party to use the methods of Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden, who began the False Voting Mantras that do not work and that Happel’s faction now promotes.

Happel admits his primary goal is not to help elect Republicans. This view disqualifies Happel for chairman.

Happel wants to change Montana’s Republican Party into a liberal third-party that loses elections. Happel claims it is better to lose elections than to lose principles. But Happel denies the true principles that built America.

Happel writes, “No true Republican could possibly say that politics are more important than principles.” I agree. However, Happel and his 20-percent minority faction do not understand principles. I have proved that Happel’s so-called “principles” are false, immoral, illogical, and unethical. Happel’s statement proves neither he nor his 20-percent radical minority are true Republicans.

Thank you, Dan Happel, for making this point loud and clear.

Happel writes, “principled leadership and a commitment to conservative values that will strengthen, not destroy our party.” Happel represents false “principles” and false “conservative values.” Until Happel learns true principles and conservative values, he is not qualified to lead Montana’s Republican Party.


The job of a Party chairman is to win elections. Happel’s plan is not about winning elections and it won’t win elections. Happel wants to empower the grenade rollers, the losers, rather than the winners.

The Montana GOP needs a chairman who understands why the Republican Party is fractured. Happel does not understand the problem so he has no solution.

The 300 have two safer choices. Incumbent Chairman Will Deschamps understands the fracture problem because he spent 30 minutes talking to me about it last year. Maybe Jeff Essmann understands the problem. At least he has not aligned himself, like Dan Happel has, with the Tea Party extremists represented by Rep. Art Wittich.

Dan Happel wants to squelch the 80-percent mainstream and empower the losing 20-percent radical minority.

The only way to make the Republican Party successful is for the tail to follow the dog. Happel wants the tail to wag the dog!

Below is Dan Happel’s public Letter sent on June 19, 2015, and published in several newspapers. The bolding is mine to indicate areas where I have commented above. – Ed

Dear Fellow Republican,

Next week our Republican Party will be meeting to choose their State leadership for the next election cycle. This election represents a watershed event for the heart and soul of the Party, and for the message that Montana Republicans will bring to the voters of Montana. Are we to be the party of constitutional principles willing to stand for the ideals of: personal responsibility, limited government, fiscal restraint, individual liberty, property rights and freedom, or are we going to become the party of unlimited pandering and political deal making, willing to do just about anything to get more Republicans elected? I believe the path of victory at any price will lead to the ultimate destruction of the Montana Republican Party. After all, that has become the standard over the past 25 years with our open primary laws and leadership with the lack of resolve to tackle this issue head on. We now have a conservative Republican base that is being held hostage by a handful of folks that do not believe in our conservative values or our platform. They get elected as Republicans irrespective their actual beliefs because of cross-over voters during the primary elections, then hand political victory to the Democrats and Governor on the most important issues. Are we willing to accept the continual destruction of the constitutional free market principles that made our nation great, or are we going to show the voters of Montana that we really are the protectors of the American dream? It is time to put up or shut up!

Friends; We will be much more successful in recruiting the candidates we seek for a re-vitalized Montana Republican Party when we can demonstrate Legislative success with a unified message based on common values and support for our State Party Platform. If our number one priority becomes the protection of liberty for the future generations of Montanans instead of winning at any cost, we will gain the support and respect of our grass-roots Republican base, conservative Democrats looking for a new direction, and the informed youth that will map our future. We need to understand the wisdom of defending with our lives, fortunes, and sacred honor, principles over politics. No true Republican could possibly say that politics are more important than principles; after all, without principles we are no better than our political opponents.

That does not mean that we must march lockstep in any political philosophy, it only means that our focus to strengthen the Republican message should be based on our mission statement: The State Platform. Our Republican diversity is our strength; moderate philosophies should be supported when they uphold the Platform and their oath of office. I want to exclude no-one who supports our cause. We must be the true protectors of the common man and work with Central Committees around the state to build a party with renewed focus on local issues and local candidates. We should provide support through the State Party that builds our base with education and cooperation. We must re-energize our grass roots base by concentrating on the most important core leadership group in the party; precinct positions at the county level. If we truly believe in bottom up, not top down government, we need to focus on organization and education of our voters at the local level. We have fallen short in building and supporting the coalitions needed to gain important victories such as Land Board seats. We must dedicate the resources needed to accomplish those goals and move beyond a focus on only office seekers at the top of the ticket.

As a retired, successful small businessman, I understand the importance of marketing to attract new clients and strengthening relationships with existing ones. I will dedicate the time and energy necessary to grow our grass-roots conservative base by providing our County Central Committees with the tools they need. That means traveling to each county and developing a strong interpersonal relationship with each Central Committee and working with groups all over Montana to re-energize our conservative base. We must move into the 21st Century by developing a social network and website at the State Party level that will allow us to reach into every corner of Montana with our message of solid Republican values. We need the support of our core group of large and small donors that support our efforts to grow the base through education and outreach. The task is too large and the goals too important to look at as a part time position that can be accomplished without a full time dedication that understands the urgency of the times we live in. I will dedicate the 40 to 60 hours per week necessary to move our Montana GOP in the direction needed to assure success. I have several previous State Chairs pledging to assist with my vision of a grass roots Republican future. I hope that you share my vision for a Montana Republican Party that stands on the solid ground of principled leadership and a commitment to conservative values that will strengthen, not destroy our party. When we begin to lead from the front and not from the shadows of political expediency, we will see a renewed Montana GOP that attracts many independent voters, donors and conservative candidates that share our values. Isn’t it time we support our conservative base with a leader dedicated to conservative principles? If nothing changes, well then……nothing will change.

Respectfully yours,

Dan A. Happel / Candidate for Republican State Chair

3 thoughts on “How Dan Happel would destroy Montana’s GOP”

  1. James Conner wrote on his Flathead Memo today:

    Dan Happel’s narrow vision for Montana’s Republican Party

    Update. I recommend Ed Berry’s take on Happel, published today.

  2. Pingback: Dan Happel joins radicals who help elect Democrats

  3. Pingback: This Week in the War Between the GOP: Things Heat Up in Madison Co |

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