(Denver Post, Feb. 26) "An empty taxi drove up to 10 Downing Street,” joked Winston Churchill about the man who defeated him for prime minister in 1946, “and out of it stepped Clement Attlee.” Droll, but Attlee laughed last. Nothing succeeds like success.
Detractors who grumble that there is “no there, there” in John Hickenlooper’s remarkable political winning streak, have to admit the same thing about his long-running popularity as Mayor of Denver and now Governor of Colorado: voters just like the guy.
The latest indication of Hick’s undiminished moxie was an odd little news item the other day, in which Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican, hinted at a 2014 gubernatorial bid – but only if Hickenlooper, the Democratic incumbent, were to decline a second term as did his predecessor, Bill Ritter. To which the Gov’s office replied, in substance, fat chance.
The upcoming TBD Project, 120 townhall meetings around the state with private funding of $1.2 million, shows again how Hickenlooper has raised amiable vagueness to an art form. He says TBD stands for “To Be Determined,” an open invitation for citizens to help set the state’s priorities – and bristles at the GOP gibe that it’s really code for “Taxed by Democrats.” The very idea!
Cruising toward halftime in his four-year term, the canny Hick is still not ready to roll out an agenda. No hurry, we’ll just travel the counties and see what folks scribble on our whiteboard. If Christo can take till 2015 to drape the river, the administration’s big push on education, transportation, corrections, and fiscal reform needn’t start yet either. Get reelected, then get serious.
On what record, you ask, would the governor campaign, given his underwhelming accomplishments to date? That’s the interesting thing about being Colorado’s chief executive. Constitutionally the position is so weak – the executive branch being split among four elected offices, the legislative branch having dominance on spending, and the voters controlling taxes and debt under TABOR – that an incumbent can win again just by managing the atmospherics and avoiding blunders.
It worked exactly this way for all of the successful governors in the state’s modern era (since terms went from two years to four in 1962). The Republican John Love and the Democrats Dick Lamm and Roy Romer each won three terms. Republican Bill Owens was easily reelected once and then term-limited. Democrat Bill Ritter, dogged by scandal and done after one, is the exception who proves the rule.
Don’t misunderstand: Love, Lamm, Romer, and Owens were all surehanded leaders and formidably skilled politicians. (Gov. Romer, of course, trounced me in our 1990 contest.) I’m merely saying that if you look for their monumental legacies or enduring policy victories, there weren’t many.
Romer did get DIA built, though Mayor Federico Pena’s name is on the approach road, and he passed the CSAP legislation, though education is little the better for it. Owens pushed T-REX to completion, though congestion persists, and he signed voucher legislation, though judges then annulled it. Lamm ran off the Winter Olympics – though before he became governor – and now we may host them anyway.
Governing our state or any other state simply doesn’t lend itself to transformative Obama-style grandiosity – which from my conservative viewpoint is a good thing. The Hippocratic caution in public policy, “First do no harm,” is hard enough to uphold. Deliver that and we’re grateful, would be the sentiment of most Americans in what is still a center-right nation.
Today’s superstar governors elsewhere – Chris Christie in New Jersey, Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Bobby Jindal in Louisiana – became such by tackling Augean messes, not by peddling utopian dreams. Colorado, for all its problems, is in no such crisis, thank goodness. If the empty gimmickry of John “TBD” Hickenlooper has an upside, that’s it.
(Denver Post, Jan. 9) “Yesterday, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today. I wish, I wish he’d go away.” The little poem from a century ago should haunt Colorado’s new governor and legislature as they climb the Capitol steps and set to work this week.
John Hickenlooper is shrewdly adding Republicans as well as fellow Democrats to his cabinet, but no one has been appointed from the Tea Party. Speaker Frank McNulty, reclaiming a GOP majority for the first time since 2004, will preside over a House of 33 R’s, 32 D’s, and no T’s. Senate President Brandon Shaffer enjoys an opposite and more comfortable margin of 20 D’s, 15 R’s, and again, zero T’s.
So what? This is our state’s two-party system in the same seesaw of power we’ve known since 1876 – politics as usual. These are politically unusual times, however. The men and women who aren’t there under the gold dome in 2011, but whom our elected leaders can’t afford to ignore, are the Tea Party insurgents of the past two years.
Fewer than half of Colorado’s eligible voters turned out last November. The half that stayed home were not all Tea Partiers, of course. T’s came out in large numbers to help Republicans take the state House, unseat two Democrats from Congress, and support Tom Tancredo or Dan Maes for governor. Yet the fact remains that as campaigning now gives way to governing, T’s have no formal seat at the table. So it’s insiders beware.
The late Bill Buckley allowed LBJ only about a week in office before announcing in his magazine: “National Review’s patience with the Johnson administration is exhausted.” The Tea Party, a movement of hard-working Americans fed up with over-spending and over-government, is THAT impatient with politicians of both parties. You can imagine them sending Valentines such as these to the power-brokers at 200 E. Colfax:
“Dear Gov. Hickenlooper: No doubt you’re a good guy to have a beer with, though the motor scooter is a bit effete. But for now, forget the image stuff, park your presidential ambitions, and get the economy roaring again. Go after the unions and the spenders like you were Chris Christie. We’re dying out here. Love, Adams County.”
“Dear President Shaffer: What’s with you proposing to make it harder for us to change the state constitution? The constitution belongs to us, not to you and the other suits. Try reading it on opening day, the way Congress did. Then try again on fixing PERA, before it bankrupts the state. Respectful but steamed, Grand Junction.”
“Dear Speaker McNulty: You must have been quoted wrong about not repealing Ritter’s car tax, that outrageous affront to TABOR. When one of your members said the revenue is needed, you woodshedded him, right? Can a couple hundred of us come see you in the Old Supreme Court some afternoon? Patriotically, Pueblo.”
“Dear Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp: Please fire up your caucus to fight harder than last year against the Obama transformation agenda on things like energy and health care. The GOP is Colorado’s best hope of not turning into California or Greece, but if you don’t show us more, a bunch of us are outta here. Worried in Widefield.”
“Dear House Minority Leader Sal Pace: Ouch, a few dozen votes in the Ramirez race and you could have been Speaker. For 2012, instead of lurching left with labor, why not become a fiscal hawk, a Dick Lamm-style Democrat? We can be had. Available in Arvada.”
Government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem. So said Reagan 30 years ago this month, and the Tea Party believes it is even truer today. If Colorado’s bipartisan establishment doesn’t pay heed, it will pay dearly.
('76 Contributor) Bipartisanship is greatly overrated as a formula for good government. Every major government boondoggle in recent memory was launched with bipartisan enthusiasm. Bipartisanship has its role in the day-to-day affairs of government. What separates genuine bipartisanship from bogus bipartisanship is one thing: honesty.
In Congress or any state legislature, it is normal for hundreds of bills to be passed with bipartisan support because much of government consists of making adjustments or improvements in ongoing programs that have broad public support. When dealing with the core functions of government, we seldom see sharp divisions along party lines.
But what we see today is a different thing. Bipartisanship is being urged on Republicans not as a "let's split the difference" compromise for a specific bill but as a principle for shaping the very definition of the problem to be solved. For example, if Republicans agree that the problem to be solved in a budget crisis is a "shortfall in revenues," then the compromise solution will inevitably be some level of tax increases to make up the "shortfall." This then becomes a debate over how to finance the growth of government, not how to reduce the size of government.
The Republican Party won victories in congressional and state races by promising to roll back Obamacare and other expansions of government. If they now squander those victories by abandoning the small-government agenda, they will deserve the scorn and ridicule of not only tea-party activists but concerned citizens everywhere.
In Colorado, the state now has a liberal Democratic governor-elect, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and a split legislature. Republicans are in the majority in the House and Democrats control the Senate. In this situation, neither party can control the legislative agenda. The question conservatives in Colorado are asking is: Will the legislative agenda become truly "bipartisan," or will Republicans be maneuvered into debating the details of compromises on the Democratic agenda?
To have a chance at genuine compromise and honest bipartisanship, Republicans must first have an agenda of their own. When leading Colorado Republicans like former Gov. Bill Owens join the Democratic governor-elect's transition team, that serves to give the Democrats' agenda a patina of "bipartisanship" at the outset. When the Democratic agenda is baptized a "bipartisan agenda" on Day 1, by not only the liberal media and interest groups but by a group of co-opted Republicans, legislators who don't buy into that agenda can be easily stigmatized as "partisan obstructionists."
Selling out your party's platform and policy agenda before the first shot is fired is a form of pre-emptive compromise that ought to be called by its right name: surrender. It is not bipartisanship in search of genuine solutions; it is gamesmanship in search of favorable press clippings. Such behavior may be acceptable to "party elders" who are accountable to no one, but it is not acceptable for elected representatives sent to the capitol to tackle tough problems and seek real solutions based on constitutional principles.
As other conservative leaders have observed, Big Government is on autopilot and programmed for a crash. Republicans need to find the off switch. Government needs a fundamental change in direction, not a spare fuel tank.
In Colorado, for example, Republicans in the state legislature would be smart to offer their own agenda as quickly as possible and not wait for the Democrats' "partnership" agenda, which will validate the status quo and seek "innovative" and "creative" (read: deceptive) ways to finance the continued growth of government. They could start with proposing a voucher system for public schools, adoption of the federal E-verify program for denying jobs to illegal aliens, a 10 percent across-the-board reduction in each state agency's budget except transportation, and phasing out state support for the state university system.
The clock is running out for the Republican Party. If they do not begin delivering on their promises, the grass-roots citizens' rebellion that swept them into office will find another vehicle for restoring constitutional liberties. In football terms, it is the middle of the fourth quarter, the score is Big Government 24, Small Government 3, and a field goal is not an acceptable play call.
Tom Tancredo is a former five-term congressman from Colorado, 2008 candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, and 2010 independent candidate for governor. He currently serves as chairman of the Rocky Mountain Foundation and co-chairman of TeamAmericaPac. Tancredo is the author of "In Mortal Danger: The Battle for America's Border and Security." This article first appeared on WorldNetDaily.com, Nov. 13
(CCU Student) In November of 2009, Tom Tancredo was a controversial name in the hat of GOP hopefuls seeking the Governor’s office in 2010. However, all hopes of a Tancredo for Governor campaign were eliminated when Tom declared that he was not seeking a gubernatorial candidacy; and that rather, he would be endorsing Congressman Scott McInnis.
Fast-forward 11 months, and today’s Rasmussen Reports update shows Congressman Tom Tancredo within four percentage points of Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. In my few years of political observation, this is potentially the most unprecedented scenario that I have ever seen. The idea of a third-party candidate who declared his candidacy in late July gaining the traction that we have seen is mind-boggling.
I personally do not believe that these circumstances have anything to do with Tom Tancredo being the ‘sexy’ candidate for Governor in 2010. To put this into perspective, I am not aware of any major candidate jumping to a third-party with 98 days remaining to put together a campaign with a party that hasn’t broken the two percent threshold in its existence. It comes down to the fact that he is running against two candidates who are not only incompetent, but have run subpar campaigns filled with gaffes and head scratching notions. Dan Maes has garnered these characteristics on numerous occasions throughout the election, but shouldn’t that leave John Hickenlooper as the obvious victor of the Governor’s race?
Clearly, there has been a strong disconnect between Hickenlooper and the people of Colorado. John Hickenlooper should be leading this race by thirty percentage points. In light of his GOP opponents' missteps, from lying about public FBI service to plagiarizing written documents and speeches, there is nothing that should stop me from confidently stating that John Hickenlooper will be the next Governor of Colorado. Yet, I cannot state definitively at this point state that Hickenlooper will be elected on November 2. The fact is that voters nation wide (especially in Colorado) are absolutely disgusted with tax-and-spend democrats. In the previous gubernatorial poll released by Rasmussen, 25% of Tom Tancredo’s thirty-five percentage points came from Democrats. Moreover, Republicans, Independents, and even Democrats are flocking towards Tom Tancredo in hopes of finding a candidate who is blunt about their economic and social aspirations as Governor of Colorado.
John Hickenlooper has raised taxes and turned Denver into a sanctuary city, plainly put. He ran Frontier Airlines to Wisconsin for excessive taxation. Frontier CEO Bryan Bedford stated simply: “Denver taxes are too high.” Hicklooper continued with his high-tax policies, and when the damage was done, there were nearly 39,000 jobs lost under his mayoral administration. (Regarding immigration) in 2008, Tom Tancredo wrote a letter signed by Rep. Cory Gardner and Sens. Dave Schultheis and Josh Penry that stated that Denver was out of compliance with CRS29-29-101, which obligates cities to report arrested illegal aliens to Immigrations and Customs officials whether or not the accused are imprisoned. He has run his campaign behind closed doors, and the voters of Colorado are seeking change needed in the State of Colorado. The failed policies of Gov. Bill Ritter have resonated Hickenlooper’s economic plan, and voters are attracted to Tancredo so that they can avoid a “Second Ritter Term.”
This has certainly become one of the most interesting races in the 2010 midterm election realm. And as most of the audience reading this article is unhappy with both Dan Maes and John Hickenlooper, I would ask that you consider supporting Congressman Tancredo on November 2. His stance on immigration has certainly been at the forefront of his campaign, but throughout his tenure in office, Tom’s votes have reflected a very conservative tone. He has almost always been parallel with conservative ideology, and I believe that he is the most qualified and competent candidate in the gubernatorial race of Colorado.
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.
Friday, 27 August 2010 08:42 by Admin
Ken Buck's views and experience make him "the right man to take on the mess in Washington" as a senator from Colorado, argues John Andrews in the August round of Head On TV debates. And John says the outsider candidacy of Dan Maes for governor, already successful beyond all odds, "might surprise everyone" against John Hickenlooper. But Susan Barnes-Gelt predicts a 20-point blowout for Hickenlooper, along with a narrow win for incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over a trio of tax-cutting ballot issues and the Denver mayor’s animus toward autos. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are the four scripts for August:
1. BUCK OR BENNET FOR US SENATE?
Susan: Mid-term elections typically favor the out-of-power party – for 2010 that’s the R’s. However Colorado is fundamentally moderate, and independent voters will be turned off by Ken Buck’s flip flops and Tea Party sympathies and murky record of integrity. It’ll be close, but Bennet wins.
John: Appointed Senator Michael Bennet has voted in lockstep with Barack Obama and Harry Reid on one awful bill after another – taxes, spending, socialized medicine, and the list goes on. Bennet’s money saved him in the primary, but the revulsion of swing voters toward all things Democratic will doom him in November.
Susan: Michael Bennet is a lot of things: smart, thoughtful, disciplined and experienced. A quick look at his record confirms that he’s neither ultra-liberal – which is why the uber-progressives supported Romanoff – or a knee-jerk follower.
John: Bennet supported Obama on the huge wasteful stimulus. It failed. He supported Obama’s health care takeover. It’s become an embarrassment. Wrong man, wrong message, wrong moment. Ken Buck is tough, principled, sensible, and real. He’s exactly the right man to take on the mess in Washington.
2. THAT WILD GOVERNOR’S RACE
John: Bill Ritter and the Democrats have really failed Colorado. Bad show on the economy, the budget, energy. John Hickenlooper, Mr. Tax Increase, Mr. Sanctuary City, would be no better. Voters are fed up. Hence the Tea Party candidacy of Dan Maes and the maverick move by Tom Tancredo. This is wild.
Susan: Wild? It’s ridiculous. Tom-I’ll quit/you quit Tancredo v. Dan-stranger-to-the-truth Maes are a joke and the very public Hickenlooper endorsement by fiscal conservative Repub’s Mizel, Maffei and Hamilton, is just a drip of the coming deluge. I’m betting Hick wins by 20 points.
John: Colorado is a big diverse state. Coloradans politically tend to be in the center or to the right. A limousine liberal from downtown Denver is the wrong fit for governor. Hickenlooper is defined by tax increases and evasive about his hard-left past. Tancredo will fade. Maes might surprise everyone.
Susan: Operative word – might – Not a chance the guy with a record of failed business enterprises who can’t keep his campaign books straight, who borrows money to pay his mortgage is going to be Colorado’s next guv. Maes, mights, WON’T!
3. HICKENLOOPER VS. THE AUTOMOBILE?
John: The automobile is the greatest freedom machine ever invented. Mayor Hickenlooper’s wacky vision to replace our personal cars and trucks with government transit and bicycles is one more reason he shouldn’t be governor. Colorado doesn’t need fewer roads as the mayor believes. Nor do we need the fatally flawed Fastracks plan.
Susan: Please don’t tell me you agree with Repub candidate Dan Maes belief that Hick’s support of alternative transportation is part of a wacky international left-wing communist scheme. And when did the Mayor say the state needs fewer roads? It’s both and, not either or.
John: According to John Hickenlooper, the mo-ped mayor who wants to be our next green governor, the big question is, quote, “How do we wean ourselves off automobiles?” That’s the same Hickenlooper who already led the metro area into a fiscal sinkhole called Fastracks. I wonder if this guy can even spell “mobility.”
Susan: Hick – is he a limousine liberal, a moped-mayor, a fast-track fanatic or a bike-lane louie? Regardless, he is on the move. Republican candidate Dan Maes can’t get his foot out of his mouth or his campaign in first gear.
5. BALLOT ISSUES 60, 61 & 101
Susan: Colorado voters must vote NO on ballot issues 60, 61 and 101. Deceptive, job killing proposals, devastating to small business and guaranteeing increased K-12 class sizes by halving the amount of property tax allocated to schools. Bi-partisan economists estimate Prop 101 will cut state revenues by $2Billion.
John: Those three tax cut proposals look pretty good to me at a time when ordinary Coloradans could use some relief. 60, 61, and 101 simply restore the fiscal guardrails of TABOR that liberal judges and politicians have pulled down. State replacement is guaranteed for local education dollars. This helps small business.
Susan: And the replacement is . . .? Monopoly money? Are your son, the Denver policeman. These initiatives guarantee job losses, negative business growth, higher unemployment, dismantled higher ed and degraded roads, highways, state parks and public safety. Perhaps access to medical marijuana is too easy?
John: The world economy is gravely threatened by taxes, spending, and mountains of government debt. Colorado is right in the path of that. Those three tax relief measures, 60, 61, and 101, are strong medicine to fight an epidemic that could run our state bankrupt. The fiscal madness has to stop. I’m voting yes.
(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.
Sunday, 8 August 2010 15:26 by Admin
Editor: After Vincent McGuire, CU political scientist and Centennial Institute Fellow, suggested Tom Tancredo's third-party run for Governor of Colorado might drive structural changes in the way conservatives organize themselves politically, Centennial fellows Paul Prentice, Alan Crippen, and Bill Moloney weighed in with complementary or contrasting views. Here is the resulting symposium.
MCGUIRE: I am very ambivalent about Tancredo. On the one hand, I believe there is a real conservative grassroots movement occurring, possibly for the first time. I do not think the Reagan revolution was of this grassroots level nor was Newt’s takeover of the House. We can disagree on that of course. Conservatives have a unique opportunity here to attract a large group of people based on ideas. If we look at polling data voters are unhappy with both parties. Therefore, I think it is in the best long-term interest of conservatives to have the establishment Republicanism hitch its wagon to the tea party movement.
On the same note, I do not think either of the Republican candidates are electable. This too we can disagree on. I believe that what voters in general are looking for, similar to 1976, are anti-political politicians. Plus, Tancredo has a better shot at beating ‘the looper’ for as well as advancing the conservative cause.
On the other hand I do not like extremism from either side. I am not saying the tea party movement or Tancredo is extreme. However in this Obama era there seems to be no consensus on what moderation is. What could happen is another realignment of the type we had in the elections of 1964 and 1972. In the election of 1964 Barry Goldwater, the most conservative major candidate ever, drove many of the liberal from the Republican Party making that party a conservative party. In the election of 1972 George McGovern, the most liberal candidate from a major party up until that time, drove many of the conservatives out of the Democratic party. The result has been a Congress as ideologically split as we've seen in 100 years.
Thus, the task of the conservative movement should be not merely to drive Democrats from office but to change the discussion; educate, in the best sense of the word, the American people and the values of conservatism. I am not sure that the establishment Republican Party, especially at the national level, is capable of doing this.
This is a unique political time, much like 1994. That year elections turned on the state of the nation. I believe the next two elections will be very similar. I think that if we can center the discussion around the core values of progressivism and conservatism, even in local elections, we will have a double victory – un-electing Democrats and creating an ideological base of conservatives.
PRENTICE: Unless and until the Republican Party realigns around America's founding principles of limited government, free markets, and private property, there is no purpose to it. Conservative Americans will no longer accept Democrat-lite as the lesser of two evils. Let us not forget that the out-of-control spending and debasement of the currency began with GW Bush and continued with a Republican House and Senate. Republicans institutued the first "stimulus" and "bail out". Obama simnply ramped it up. The Republican Party has lost claim to any moral high ground: "We had to go against free market principles in order to save the free market." -- President GW Bush
The problem, to me, is not the "Party" as represented by the voters. It is the elitist politicians and operatives who neither understand nor appreciate these principles, but rather are in it for their own power and agrandizement. That is the core of the current mess in Colorado. Judge Andrew Napolitano says we don't have a two-party system, we have only one party: The Party of Big Government. There is a Democrat wing of that party and a Republican WIng of that party. I agree wholeheartedly. Here in Colorado, it was the Republicans under Bill Owens and Jane Norton that began the dismantling of TABOR with their support for Ref. C. During the health-care debate, I got the sense that fiscal conservatives would be all for socialized medicine, if only it was budget-neutral. They argued on policy, not principle (likely because they don't have any). Social conservatives would be all for socialized medicine, if only it didn't fund abortion. They argued on policy, not principle (likely because they don't have any). We have to clearly restate the meaning and purpose of government, and clearly articulate the proper relationship between the governing and the governed: "To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men." -- Thomas Jefferson
Instead, we have a philosophy that government exists not to secure these rights, but rather to give us stuff (for which it must first take from others). This is a Marxist, not a Jeffersonian, vision of government. It is supported and implemented by both parties. In a recent poll, people were asked which they think is better: A free-enterprise economic system or a government-controlled economic system? Free enterprise won 70%, to 30% for government control. Given that, the fact that the Republican Party cannot secure a permanent governing majority speaks to their own philosophic bankruptcy. (Paul Prentice on on the Board of Directors for El Paso County TEA Party)
CRIPPEN: It would seem to me that the current political moment cries out for leadership to define conservatism as something other than kinder, gentler libertarianism. Libertarianism (aka John Stuart Mill) is the failed political philosophy that birthed the progressivism (Republican and Democratic) of the early 20th Century. That "TR" Rooseveltian and Wilsonian Progressivisms have morphed into today's social democracy is manifest to varying degrees in both major parties. In reaction to this, I think the Tea Party movement is dangerously close to pursuing libertarian impulses.
Certainly, Tancredo's temptation to a third party is not the answer. It strikes me as too reminiscent of the failed strategy of Ross Perot and the Reform Party of the early 1990s -- a spoiler movement to real conservatism.
Reformation of the Republican Party is what we need. We need candidates with a political philosophy and vision that offer something more compelling than minimalist government and less taxes. Rather, we need a cohesive, comprehensive and compelling vision for maximizing civil society and the non-governmental institutions that have real promise of providing a moral, social, and economic bulwark against the omni-competent nanny state.
MOLONEY: In McGuire's speculations about realignment, there is a downside that cannot be ignored- a huge one! For generations Republicans and Conservatives have disemboweled themselves in a fruitless quest for “Purity” (e.g. Goldwater 1964). If conservatives 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 (e.g. Perot 1992).
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 (John Kerry and Chris Matthews 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 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.
What is called in the law a Scotch verdict, an agnostic shrug of "not proved," is my sad and reluctant conclusion about next week's Republican primary for Governor of Colorado. At present I cannot support either of the two candidates. I was intrigued with the businessman-outsider persona of dark horse Dan Maes, and went so far as to float the case for him in my Denver Post column last Sunday, posted here as "Maes and the Medicine." But as the evidence mounts, I deem the case very insufficient. Dan Maes is not ready for prime time and seemingly not who he has claimed to be.
Scott McInnis has seen too much prime time, and Colorado is not ready for who we know him to be.
Which is regrettable for two public-spirited Coloradans, fundamentally decent men with devoted families -- and even more regrettable for our state, which so urgently needs the limited-government leadership a qualified Republican could provide right now. Where does this leave us on the morning of August 11 when one of these two is officially the GOP nominee? Attractive and viable options are slim to none. A ticket-replacement maneuver is imaginable but unlikely. A plurality victory for Constitution candidate Tom Tancredo is also unlikely; Tom is my friend but won't get my vote. Are we looking at a handshake from outgoing Gov. Bill Ritter to incoming Gov. John Hickenlooper next January, Democrats retaining power against all odds after botching things so badly the past four years? What a pity if it comes to that.
(Denver Post, May 30) An Alaska mayor shocks the governor in a primary, then humbles an ex-governor in the general election, then electrifies the nation as John McCain’s running mate. A legislator from the laughing-stock Massachusetts Republicans upsets the attorney general to capture a perennially Democratic Senate seat. A lowly Pennsylvania congressman ignores the president’s support for a party-switching senator and retires him in a primary, Obama endorsement and all.You know their names. In ousting Arlen Specter, Joe Sestak (corrupt job offer notwithstanding) followed a pattern set by Scott Brown and Sarah Palin. Voters in both parties are turning to conviction candidates and giving resume’ candidates the boot. Palin’s rollicking speech at DU last weekend, hours after the state Republican convention, got me wondering whether the same pattern fits Colorado.Laughing that it was fun to do politics at an ice rink, the Wasilla hockey mom skated in to forecheck the Messiah himself. Her deft indictment of Mr. Obama’s policies delighted the crowd of several thousand, about half of them Tea Partiers by a show of hands. With her peroration on Reagan as a model of the “lifeguard leadership” America needs, you could hear Sarah asking herself: “Should I run in 2012?”Time will tell. Right now there is 2010 to deal with, and on a Saturday that had seen conventional wisdom toppled among both Democrats and Republicans, something else you could hear was our state’s previously favored hopefuls for senator and governor frantically recalculating their chances.Jane Norton and Ken Buck, Senate rivals in the August GOP primary, both attended the Palin event. Once the underdog, he was riding a 77% delegate majority and positive media buzz. She was coming off several days of rough press and party grumbling over her decision to bypass the convention and file petitions. Listening in on their thoughts that night would have been fascinating. Though still formidable in likability, endorsements, and funding, the former lieutenant governor now clearly has a race on her hands. For all that Norton was recently lauded by Gov. Palin as a “pink elephant,” a conservative woman to watch, the pit bull of the hour seems to be Buck.The same dramatic reversal of fortune, like something out of the movies, has befallen Michael Bennet and Andrew Romanoff, Senate rivals on the Democratic side. Romanoff, feisty and buoyant, radiates conviction. Bennet has the resume’, but he plods. The incumbent’s war chest and White House backing may prove no more decisive for him than they were for poor Arlen Specter.It was in the race for governor, though, that May 22 invited the craziest speculation on who might become Colorado’s Sarah Palin. Evergreen businessman Dan Maes, authentic and fearless but politically unknown, announced in early 2009 against Gov. Bill Ritter. Fat chance. Like most Republicans, I shrugged and awaited the serious contenders. First came former congressman Scott McInnis, then state Sen. Josh Penry, then (very briefly) former presidential candidate Tom Tancredo. But suddenly last November, Penry and Tancredo were out. This January, Ritter too was out. And now as June begins, McInnis sits SECOND on the ballot behind, of all people, Dan Maes.Is it another case of conviction trumping resume’? If latecomer Joe Gschwendtner gains traction, does a three-way primary (like Palin’s in 2006) help Maes? Could Dauntless Dan, if nominated by the GOP, beat the media’s darling, John Hickenlooper? There is precedent. Back in 1962, the untried John Love took out Democrat Gov. Steve McNichols. Things are at a boil, and as Samuel Adams of Boston Tea Party fame observed, “It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.” Americans and Coloradans, fired up about over-government, have made this a year of surprises already. My hunch is we haven’t seen anything yet.