(Denver Post, Oct. 10) “Not so fast,” warns the movie hero. He’ll make sure the cad or the con man doesn’t get away with it. One side in American politics has always been the party of “not so fast,” putting the brakes on expansive government power. Today that’s the Republican Party, and they serve the common good in doing it, even when unsuccessful.
But I’m concerned that in the governor’s race this year, Colorado Republicans may be so unsuccessful that their restraining influence on political overreach is lost for a long time. Even the most fervent Democrats, if they remember the corruption of power, shouldn’t relish that prospect – though one can see why they’re keeping gleefully silent as Tom Tancredo and Dan Maes rip each other.
Voting begins this week. The worry du jour last week was demotion of the GOP to minor-party status if Maes finishes under 10 percent. I don’t think he will, but he obviously won’t win either. In the likely outcome of Democrat John Hickenlooper winning, or the unlikely outcome of the freelancer Tancredo prevailing, the one certainty on Nov. 3 is a defeated, divided, and demoralized Republican establishment – which doesn’t augur well for constitutionalism.
What’s constitutionalism, and who cares? We all should. Our written constitution of self-government, in this state or the United States, is only as strong as the unwritten traditions of fair competition and civic virtue – habits of the heart, as they have been called – that sustain America as a caring community of free people. A jungle ethos of winning at any cost endangers all that. Let's not go there.
Too many on the right in Colorado, I’m sorry to say, already have. To be clear: While this party stalwart is firmly on record as supporting neither Maes nor Tancredo nor Hickenlooper, I have GOP friends in each man’s camp – and our friendship will survive the disagreement. The purpose here is to analyze attitudes, not to slam personalities. The slamming is what has to stop.
Reversing early assurances that he wouldn’t run an anti-Maes campaign, Tom has. On Dan’s side, a frothing anti-Tancredo screed is now online, slinging slurs like “chicken hawk.” It’s more bitter than a primary because there’s no intra-party comity to damp the invective. Tom says he’ll govern as a Republican if elected -- but it wasn’t long ago he emphatically disavowed the party label, and mocked Lincoln for good measure.
Political memories aren’t short. Even if Ken Buck wins, some congressional seats flip, and Democrats suffer legislative losses, a self-wounded GOP will be disadvantaged under the gold dome after this cannibalistic governor’s race. As tax pressures intensify and Obama girds for reelection, Colorado is going to need a party of “not so fast.” Who will it be? The American Constitution Party can’t mount a defense when liberals go on offense.
Whether Tancredo’s ambition succeeds this time, or fizzles as it did in the presidential primaries, many in my party will need to think long and hard about whether the end justifies the means. Maes’s undeniable weaknesses were but a relative excuse, not an absolute justification, for mass desertion of the Republican nominee. Somehow the McInnis disease, scorning party standard-bearers in 2006 and 2008, went epidemic in 2010.
Abandoning long-established institutions for “light and transient causes” violates conservative prudence, the Declaration of Independence warns. Many of the GOP’s finest, including three of Tom’s congressional colleagues, have gambled unconservatively this fall.
They used to say the Episcopal Church was the Republican regulars at prayer. The Tancredo movement seems like the regulars on a fling. Might all this, in hindsight, prove an overreaction? Have we destroyed the village to save it? “She’s come undone,” sang the Guess Who. I hope I’m wrong in applying that to our state’s Grand Old Party.
Monday, 6 September 2010 11:00 by Admin
"What do you make of the Maes-Tancredo situation in Colorado's race for governor?" was our question to a friend we'll call Flavius, a longtime Republican activist in metro Denver. His reply exemplified the agonizing complexities facing GOP loyalists in this campaign. Flavius wrote:
My presumption is Tancredo will stay in and Tom is a polarizing candidate. I really like him but he has little support in the Hispanic community, for one thing, and he has upset many Republican activists who would support him except for his leaving the party. I’m in the latter group even though I understand why he did it and the way he did it. If the state GOP were to endorse Tancredo (as it happens in NY between their Conservative Party and the Republican Party) it would help Tancredo but I doubt our state party would do something like that. Some wonder if Tancredo is even legally qualified to be a candidate.
Maes will stay until something else comes out that he cannot escape. Maes has no real, deep ties to the Republican Party so he will not quit just because it benefits the state or the Republican Party. As it stands today, Maes would have a hard time finding any other job based on his phony resume so he has the incentive to stay in the race.
I can see the dynamic of it but I do not have a solid position for voting yet. My wife will vote Tancredo and I’m leaning Tancredo but I am waiting to see what the state party does as well as any challenge to his candidacy. I’m afraid we have conceded the governor's job to Hickenlooper under the current circumstances. I am just hoping this does not affect the down ticket, but that too is unknown.
Having been one of those idiots who voted for Ross Perot, my view of third party efforts has little sympathy. From my later experience working for campaigns and our party, I am more pragmatic and I understand the need for major donors and accept their influence. Still, there does seem to be a disconnect between party activists and party leadership. Some activists may be sorry they voted for Maes but I don’t think they will be happy if the party replaces their choice with someone they did not support before, such as Jane Norton. Any real solution needs the cooperation from both: donors and activists.
I honestly don’t know if the problems can be overcome. Mark Hillman or Josh Penry would have the support but may not have the name recognition nor the funding needed to pull it off. Jane Norton and Bob Beauprez have the funding and name recognition but would need a lot of grass roots support and that may be difficult to accomplish. Time is the biggest obstacle to overcome and for any solution to work both Tancredo and Maes would have to withdraw soon.
(Nantucket, Aug. 16) The two topics dominating summer cocktail chatter on this resort island thirty miles off the coast of Massachusetts both have a nautical flavor. The first involves the return of the Great White Sharks. Ever since Peter Benchley made this area the thinly disguised setting for his blockbuster novel Jaws the Great whites have become a staple of local legend. A wrongheaded environmental Protection Agency ban on seal hunting has led to a population explosion among the furry little critters all along the Northern New England coast. Unimpressed by EPA logic Mother Nature sought to redress the balance by sending a bulletin to Atlantic based Great Whites (and smaller sharks) that liberals were sponsoring a “Free Lunch” in these waters. Soon shark sightings abounded leading to many beach closings and other attendant economic dislocations. The second involves island summer resident Massachusetts Senator John Kerry who got caught trying to evade taxes on the seven million dollar yacht he just had built in New Zealand (so much for Buy American). Johnny thought no one would notice if he quietly listed the boat’s berthing location in nearby Rhode Island which has no tax on these luxury items. By doing so he would deprive financially strapped Massachusetts of $420,000 sales tax revenue and Nantucket where the boat will usually be docked of $70,000 excise tax. Unfortunately for Johnny someone tipped off the Boston Herald, the Rupert Murdoch owned tabloid that delights in flaying the local liberals. For five straight days the Herald gave the entire front page to this story complete with pictures of Johnny in a digitally added pirate’s hat and juicy details about the boats wine cellar, his and her wet bars etc. The Senator- so unfairly harassed by national and local media- moved from a) “I don’t owe any taxes”, to b) “It’s my wife’s boat”, and finaly c) “We always intended to pay these taxes”- which he promptly did. All in all great fun with yet another democrat who wants to raise your taxes while dodging their own ( see Geithner, Sebelius, Rangel etc.) For Republicans a more ominous political symbol manifested itself last week with the appearance on the island of Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick for a re-election fundraiser. Patrick who gave the disingenuous “Hope and Change” campaign theme its very successful trial run in 2006 is a very lucky man- and not just because bosom buddy Barack Obama has sent his own political guru David Plouffe to run Patrick’s 2010 re-election effort. Owing to the familiar democratic penchant for taxing and spending Patrick is the most unpopular Massachusetts governor in living memory. Nonetheless current poles make him a good bet to win re-election thanks to the third party candidacy of renegade democrat now Independent State Treasurer Tim Cahill who is ruining the once excellent prospects of republican Charles Baker. Patrick’s good fortune is very like that of Florida Governor Charlie Crist who went from Dead Man Walking in the Republican Senatorial primary to third party independent now topping the polls. And we have Colorado ex-congressman tom Tancredo whose impending third party candidacy will be the final blow to the once bright prospect of Republicans reclaiming the governor’s mansion in the wake of the inept taxing and spending regime of democrat Bill Ritter. Twentieth Century history gives prominent examples of third party candidacies that were ruinous for Republicans and by extension the whole country. The most consequential instance was the fierce quarrel between President William Howard Taft and ex-President Theodore Roosevelt over the “true meaning” and “soul” of the Republican party which led to TR’s third party or “Bull Moose” candidacy. Their fracturing of the Republican Party delivered the White House to Progressive icon Woodrow Wilson whose redistributive “New Freedom” became the model for FDR’s New Deal and the intellectual ancestor of the Obama approach to governance. Eighty years later the twangy voice of the egomaniacal third party Presidential candidate Ross Perot persuaded millions of voters that George H.W. Bush had “corrupted” the Republican Party and that America needed a “rebirth” and “purification” under his leadership. What America got instead was Bill Clinton. Enough said.
For generations Republicans and Conservatives have disemboweled themselves in a fruitless quest for “Purity” (e.g. Goldwater 1964). If conservatives in Colorado or elsewhere insist on “clarity, specificity, and agreement” on identity, issues etc., we are just forming up yet another circular firing squad. The ultimate temptation of course, is the suicidal Third Party impulse. If our country is to be saved, it is imperative that Democrats be decisively defeated in the next two elections. All else must be subordinated to that goal for if we fail the damage to our country will be catastrophic and irreversible. As I sit here in Nantucket watching the liberal species up close (MSNBC yakkers Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough within walking distance) I am reminded that Democrats never accurately define themselves or publicly admit of their real plans for “transformational change”. Such deception allows them to win elections every time Republicans screw up. The Progressive agenda like that of its union core is narrow, radical, and unchanging and it has advanced incrementally- by fits and starts- for nearly a century. Great election victories (1932, 1964, 1980) are won when people decisively reject the opposition (Hoover, Goldwater, Carter). The issues all conservatives can agree on are the Deficit, the Debt, runaway Spending, Metastasizing Government, and the Death of the American Dream for our own children and grandchildren. Let’s leave Purity and Perfection to the afterlife.
William Moloney is a Centennial Institute Fellow. His columns have appeared in The Wall St. Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, Human Events and other publications. He lives in Colorado.