('76 Contributor) As a political scientist I was trained to go to the root of issues, to trace the origins of events to the distant past and to reflect on the quality of government by reference to types of regimes. Frequent elections, conducted from the highest to the lowest level of government, enables public opinion to express itself, correct previous errors or reward elected officials for competent or incorruptible service.
Though there are times in American politics—like today—when popular uprisings occur that aim to throw out the “bums,” for the most part the American electorate—those who register to vote and actually vote in elections—is satisfied to re-elect incumbents. Over time these same incumbents tend to represent special interests, not the public interest, and they remain in office well past normal retirement age.
That is why many states impose “term limits” on service of public executives. Colorado is an example.
Article V, Section 3 of the Constitution of the State of Colorado states as follows:
Section 3. Terms of senators and representatives. (1) Senators shall be elected for the term of four years and representatives for the term of two years.
(2) In order to broaden the opportunities for public service and to assure that the general assembly is representative of Colorado citizens, no senator shall serve more than two consecutive terms in the senate, and no representative shall serve more than four consecutive terms in the house of representatives. This limitation on the number of terms shall apply to terms of office beginning on or after January 1, 1991. Any person appointed or elected to fill a vacancy in the general assembly and who serves at least onehalf of a term of office shall be considered to have served a term in that office for purposes of this subsection (2). Terms are considered consecutive unless they are at least four years apart.
Though Colorado Term Limits serve the purpose of changing the occupants of important seats in the State Legislature, those same Term Limits also have negative consequences.
Let’s begin with the quality of elected state legislators. Why is it that the Colorado State Legislature is laughingly referred to as “stupid”? A more considerate term might be “unskilled.”
Elected bodies that change membership frequently seldom retain the knowledge of past experience. For example, if your memory was erased every eight years, you would, at best, be described as “unskilled.”
Yorktown University’s Gary Wolfram reports that Republicans in the Term Limited state legislature of Michigan crafted legislation intended to bind the spending practices of Michigan’s Democratic Governor. The legislation was crafted imperfectly and, as a result, the spending power of Michigan’s Governor was increased.
Recently, the Minority Leader of the Colorado State Senate,Josh Penry, announced that he would not seek another term of office. After all, service in the legislature requires enormous sacrifices of time, and with Term Limits, those sacrifices will be for naught in a very short period of time.
With Josh Penry and many other worthy legislators departing public service per the terms of Article V, Section 3 of Colorado’s State Constitution, the state legislature loses their knowledge, commitment and leadership. That’s just those who serve. Term Limits deter ambitious politicians to seek election to the State Senate.
But, something else occurs as well.
When legislative and executive service is Term Limited the state bureaucracy grows in power. Power doesn’t evaporate just because elected politicians leave. It moves to more permanent offices. As the repository of regulations, historical knowledge and practices, non-elected public executives play increasingly important roles in Term Limited states. And the numbers of bureaucrats grow.
I encourage readers to click here to access statistics kept by the U.S. Census Bureau on the number of federal, state, and local government civilian employees and their gross payrolls.
You will find that Term Limited states have more public employees per capita than non-Term Limited states.
In other words, citizens will pay, one way or the other, by Term Limiting or not Term Limiting their elected state officials. States that have Term Limits will grow their professional bureaucracies and those that do not have Term Limits will have incumbents who stay too long in office.
Which is worse?
If you consider that elections are the means by which the will of the people is expressed, the empowerment of non-elected public executives is clearly worse.
I’m concerned, frankly, that Term Limits in Colorado block one avenue through which well intentioned politically active citizens can bring their knowledge and skill to serve the public good.
Remember Rick O’Donnell? He served Governor Owens as head of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. He ran for Congress, lost, and now works for an academic institution in Texas.
Remember Marc Holtzman? He served in Governor Owens' Cabinet. Holtzman ran for Governor, lost, and now works for Barclays Bank in London.
Remember former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff? He was term limited, decided to run for Governor and now is seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate.
The State Legislature of Colorado is not an avenue that the politically ambitious travel. They seek to become top officials with Colorado’s Governors and then run for federal office. This “brain drain” is very real because public service in the State Legislature is Term Limited.
The only way to stop this brain drain is to repeal Article V, Section 3, of the Constitution of the State of Colorado and allow men and women of ability and ambition to serve their fellow citizens as members of the State Legislature for as long as they are re-elected.
Dr. Richard Bishirjian is President of Yorktown University, on whose Yorktown Patriot blog this article first appeard as "Colorado’s ‘Brain Drain’ and Term Limits," March 28, 2010.
In less than a year well over a thousand independent groups have sprung up around the nation to organize and demonstrate against the attempted government takeover of entire industries, high taxes, crippling debt, and the agenda of President Barack Obama. While many have ridiculed and guffawed about the “teabaggers,” these motivated and angry voters have very quickly shown the ability to raise millions of dollars, target specific political races, grab headlines and media exposure, stage large rallies, and mobilize volunteers.
The Tea (Taxed Enough Already) movement has been defined as populist, conservative, and libertarian in tone. It is a movement diverse in leadership and organization but united in its defense of liberty and the constitution. Its members are technologically savvy and able to mobilize in a moments notice. It is anti-elitist, anti-big government, and anti-big business. It is a revulsion and revolt against perceived corruption and politics as usual. And it the most recent public face of the Liberty Movement that resides on the right side of the ideological spectrum.
It is the winning combination of the common sense principles of less government, fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, state’s rights, and strong national security that is uniting the Tea Party into an effective force to be reckoned with. The mad as hell Teaparticans are the modern-day serfs smashing down the castle gate in an attempt to overthrow their feudal overlords. It is a popular uprising against the political establishment.
The members of the Tea Party first came to national attention when they crashed townhall meetings and held spontaneous rallies and protests around the nation. Couched in terms like “the second Revolution” and “the uprising,” while touting the imagery of the American Revolution, the Tea Party movement is really just a vast amalgamation of factions and independent groups acting outside the old party establishments and organized everywhere from facebook to the fellowship hall in the basement of the church on the corner. But they are mad as hell, and history shows that righteous indignation and the howling mob can definitely threaten entrenched interests and the ruling elite. Whether that energy and drive can be wielded effectively and wisely still remains to be seen.
Those who jeered and poked fun at the 9-12 and Tea party groups just a few months ago now greatly worry about these shock troops of an aroused and angry conservative movement that has dedicated itself to practicing “guerilla conservatism” and challenge the progressive ideology that seeks to regulate, tax, and control nearly every aspect of your daily life. The fainting, worshipful Obamanite crowds of a year ago have been replaced in the street by those who have had enough of a government, and governing party, that is out of control.
With their sea of signs and Revolutionary War flags this particular face of the larger Liberty Movement descended onto Washington D.C. in the hundreds of thousands this past summer (the Million Mob March). It was the announcement to a corrupt establishment that a movement, not a party, was here to contest the agenda, power, and business as usual of the entrenched rich and corrupt that infest both Wall Street and Capitol Hill. It is a movement equally disgusted with corporate bail outs and the socialization of medicine. And in many ways it is not just the Right against the Left, but the little guy against the big guy, the average American against the elite, and the lover of liberty against those who seek to replace it with authoritarian regulation.
The real influence of the Tea Party movement, despite all the media coverage, is yet to be seen. There is a major and nation wide effort to prepare to mount a conservative takeover of the Republican primary and caucus process. Few show up to these important but often neglected grassroots meetings and the fired up and angry rank and file are not just here to oppose the Democratic Party but to make serious inroads into the Republican Party. A third political party is not seen as a viable option at this particular point in time but the takeover of one of the existing ones is seen as possible.
The country club elite and RINO (Republicans In Name Only) who have held sway in the GOP and controlled much of the party apparatus and candidate selection process has no idea how to harness, control, or otherwise exert much pressure on this grassroots uprising against politics as usual. The conservative resurgence is happening despite the GOP, not because of it. Hopefully a rising tide will lift all boats. It was not the conservative movement that lost in November but perceived Bush Republicanism with its poor prosecution of two wars and own policies of big government and big spending. And the Republican presidential nominee was no conservative but in fact the embodiment of traditional party politics and seen as the poster boy of those who sacrifice principle for the sake of expediency and political power.
It will be interesting to see if the momentum fueled by the Tea Party has already peaked or if we are seeing the birth of a long-standing, broad-based, and truly influential phenomenon in the American political process or just a short-lived outburst of frustration with Barack Obama.
The 9-12 Project and Tea Party groups are still in their political infancy but have shown they do have some staying power, the ability to raise millions of dollars to target specific races, and now the attention of both political parties. Not bad for just some ordinary citizens using the internet to organize some rallies and “crash” some townhall meetings on health care. Good for them. I’m glad someone, anyone, is standing up and saying the kind of things that need to be said. One can continue to wallow in ignorance and blind faith in the agenda of the government or one can boldly stand in opposition and declare such things unacceptable for a free people.
There have been complaints that the members of the Tea Party movement are mostly white. Does it matter? Is perceived “diversity” now the only benchmark by which we measure legitimacy of a cause? The movement is an uprising of the ignored middle class. They are the ones who have the most to lose under Obama. All races are welcome in the Liberty movement. You just have to be willing to detach yourself from the teat of government handouts and dependency to be a member.
If anything, the Tea Party rebellion is more about class, not race. In the Great Recession it was the middle class that took a huge hit with severe job losses and foreclosures in the millions. The middle class is the heart and soul of the nation and when it feels ignored and betrayed it will strike out at those who it sees as having abandoned it. It is they who are feeling the greatest effects of both the recession and government policies. The rich will always be rich, and the poor will be poor, (but not too much poorer due to the wide social safety net we have constructed), but it is the middle class who have watched big government bail out big business with their money even as they lost their jobs, their savings, their retirement, and their homes. At the same time they see a massive grab for power by a government who sees them as little more than someone to be taxed and controlled. And occupying the oval office is the most leftist and radical president to every hold the office. It is upon such fertile ground that the message of the Tea Party and 9-12 groups has fallen with amazing results. Their anger at Washington, big business, and big government has provided a third force in politics, at least for the time being, that scares the Left and challenges the political class and politics as usual.
Stunned by the virtual overnight mobilization and organization of an angry, high-tech, middle class, right-wing uprising against Obama’s rapid march towards European socialism, the Left has crashed from its hopey-changey high to find itself faced with some serious problems. Progressivism is an ideology of continual movement and motion. It is protest speeches and gatherings, lesbian brown bag lunches, and marches about “the struggle” for (insert favorite pet cause here – no blood for oil, civil rights, gay rights, animal rights, gender equality, nuclear disarmament, saving the polar bears etc). With the pinnacle finally reached by what they saw as the election of one of their own they seemed to have finally collapsed from exhaustion as they declared a paradigm shift, the exile of anyone to the right of Hillary to wander in the political wilderness for a generation, and the much heralded thousand-year reign of He who would slow the rising of the oceans.
They seemed to have passed the mantle of energy, rebellion against the status quo, and anti-establishment anger to the peasants who had been toiling in the fields and serving as the backbone of the state even while the agitators agitated and the community organizers organized. The Tea Party types have emerged from their “exile” in the political wilderness with a righteous indignation that has frightened the ruling classes and shaken the corrupt cabal that controls the capitol. Armed with tweets and facebook, pitchfork and torch, they are the most visible image of the uprising of the Right against those who would force us down the road to serfdom.
Latecomers, politicians, and opportunists attempt to glob onto any movement but that doesn’t diminish the validity of their anger, the righteousness of their outrage, or the power of their principles. The Tea Party movement is now a vast amalgamation of political novices and virgin activists working side by side with professional opinion setters and grizzled conservative veterans of the culture wars. The question really is whether or not it is all “too little, too late” or a popular outrage and uprising that is “just in nick of time.” That answer is not yet known and remains to be seen.
David Huntwork is a conservative activist and independent columnist in Northern Colorado where he lives with his wife and three young daughters. He is the author of the book No Apologies: In Defense of Common Sense and the Conservative Ideology which can be purchased at http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=3576295.Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions at DaveHuntwork@juno.com. You may also view his bio and past columns at: http://DavidHuntwork.tripod.com.
('76 Editor) Two important articles published recently, along with a classic from the early Reagan years, remind us how deep and grave are the pathologies threatening American self-government -- and map out the fundamental change of thinking we must achieve as conservatives if our country is not to go the way of Rome or Britain. Contemporary writers Jeff Bergner and Matthew Spalding in recent weeks have echoed the insights of Stan Evans, Bill Buckley's compatriot in the 1980s, warning that the fateful options we face are to understand the soul of America either as unlimited government seeking a coercive utopia (the liberal or progressive vision), or as limited government wherein freely choosing individuals can order their own lives (the Founders' vision). It goes so much deeper than just arguing over who's up and who's down in the polls, how to keep entitlements and the deficit in hand, and whether Democrats or Republicans should win the next election. Underlying those superficial matters is the question of what self-government really means -- and whether Americans are still capable of it.
If you love our country and want to be part of saving and renewing it, I urge you to study these three profound diagnoses:
Can Republicans Govern? Not Unless They Change 'The Narrative'By Jeff Bergner, The Weekly Standard, Feb. 8, 2010
A Republic, If You Want It: The Left's Overreach Invites the Founders' ReturnBy Matthew Spalding, National Review, Feb. 8, 2010
Unlearning the Liberal History LessonBy M. Stanton Evans, Imprimis (Hillsdale College), March 1980
(Denver Post, Feb. 7) “Both ends of the political spectrum are disgusting,” said reader Bill Hoppe in an email after my Jan. 24 column on bipartisan irresponsibility. “It becomes increasingly difficult to believe in our legislature at any level.”
Deborah Kelly’s letter to the editor, published here on Jan. 31, was equally despairing: “I can’t afford health insurance, and after the Supreme Court decision regarding campaign financing, now I can’t afford to vote either.”
As we watch the messy process of self-government in a free society, disgust and discouragement may tempt us all. While the reaction is only human, the answer is not to drop out. Rather the American way is to pick an entry point and plunge into the process for our own good. Its openness is a marvel, too little understood.
Deborah should consider that she can’t afford not to vote. And maybe with her ability to turn a phrase, she could help fellow dissidents argue down the political ads big business and big labor can now run. Bill should realize that the responsible center is wherever he is. As for “believing in” our legislators, why? They aren’t deities, just people. Motivating them is possible for that very reason, though.
We the people employ every public official in the land. Through our votes we can hire and fire them all – even the judges, who can be removed directly by state retention elections or indirectly by federal impeachment. It happens seldom, only because citizens have been lulled into forgetting our own power. Does last year’s wave of protest signal that this year we’ll finally awaken? The red tide for Brown in blue Massachusetts suggests we may.
Many of the state senators and representatives I served with were easily motivated by reminders of the next election. In some cases, too easily – it was said of Rod the Republican and Don the Democrat (not their real names) that they quaked before a few phone slips from constituents as if it were a full-on lobbying campaign. More’s the pity if good folks like Bill and Deborah yield to discouragement instead of phoning in their concerns.
One of my greatest pleasures since leaving the legislature has been getting to know a constant stream of such patriots-in-the-making who come around seeking either entry into the process or encouragement to plunge. I should have one of those “Doctor Is In” signs like Lucy in the comics. Her nickel fee wasn’t nearly as enriching as the satisfaction this over-the-hill politico gets from nurturing the new crop.
Businessman Tom wanted an introduction to tea-party leaders, which I made – along with arrangements for him to help a congressional candidate. Retired teacher Mel brought an inspirational article about the Constitution that we’ll place with a local blog. Consultant Claire had ideas for small-business activism but no audience; she’s now on the GOP breakfast circuit. Undergrad Kim and executive Joan both aspired to the foreign service, for which I tried to give age-appropriate counsel.
Candidates also come knocking, of course, and doing my bit for them feels good. But it’s the “wanna make a difference” private citizens who inspire me most. If some aim awfully high – such as Cliff from church with his health care agenda, or lawyer Mike with his plan for drafting the next president – all partake of the minuteman spirit that is America at its best. None are bogged in despair.
My friend Francisco, an American by choice and an engineer turned artist in midlife, quotes something Van Gogh wrote when all seemed hopeless: “I shall get over it, I shall pick up my pencil, and I shall draw again.” Our hope for 2010 comes not from the White House, but from citizens of all parties more ready than ever to pick up that pencil and participate.
(Denver Post, Jan. 24)) Why did Gov. Bill Ritter fold his reelection campaign? Why is Sen. Michael Bennet so far behind in the polls? Why did Scott Brown win in Massachusetts? Why is Barack Obama struggling to save his presidency, one year after taking office in triumph?
Because Americans have completely lost patience with irresponsibility. For years this column has talked of the need for a responsibility movement to challenge both political parties. “We’ll call it Element R and launch it today, right here in Colorado,” I wrote in 2007. What the country has seen in recent months is Element R, in fact if not in name, starting to take charge.
Surveys foretold what elections in Virginia, New Jersey, and now Massachusetts have confirmed: sharp declines in Democratic support, benefiting Republican candidates but not greatly boosting Republican registration. It’s the independent voters whose ranks are growing. Citizens are less inclined to ally with either the donkey or the elephant. Both have forfeited confidence.
People’s aroused insistence for responsibility instead of irresponsibility, on the part of those we entrust with power, best explains the new political landscape. To start with definitions, responsibility means keeping a trust, doing your duty, facing the music. Whereas irresponsibility means shirking, acting in disregard of consequences, behaving as if 2 and 2 don’t make 4. Examples abound.
Ritter’s fatal wound, absent-father guilt aside, seems to have been either fiscal and executive recklessness or an impending legal-ethical scandal. He might have brazened it out, whatever the case, if years of gubernatorial irresponsibility by the likes of Davis in California, Blagojevich in Illinois, and Sanford in South Carolina hadn’t inflamed public disgust. But in 2010 the odds have become prohibitive, so he’s quitting.
The responsibility deficit for Bennet as an interim senator from Colorado matches that of Martha Coakley in her failure to become an interim senator from Massachusetts. Neither grasped that the country’s tolerance for unserious political palaver-as-usual is exhausted. The national BS detector is pegged. Bennet’s phony indignation over corrupt deals in the health care bill, and then over secret negotiations for same, backed up in neither case by his vote, simply spelled game over.
As for our glib young president, Mr. Obama set a trap for himself on inauguration day. After calling for a “new era of responsibility,” he has proved epically irresponsible ever since – weakening us against our enemies, selling out our allies, ballooning the deficit, expanding government, worsening the recession by bullying business, and obsessing over socialized medicine like Ahab with the whale. No wonder his numbers are at record lows.
The irresponsibility epidemic, a contagion long carried by Democrats but often caught by Republicans as well, finally triggered public fury in last year’s tea parties and townhalls. This is the uprising I’ve called Element R. But is it a movement – perhaps even a force capable of remaking the GOP? Or is it merely an electoral mood?
The responsibility backlash will continue taking its healthy toll. Whether it’s durable enough to take charge, time will tell. Though unaffiliated voters hold the balance of power, the coherence of their views is doubtful. Here in Colorado, it would be interesting to see Element R gel and assert itself to the point of asking questions that the established parties shrink from. These might include:
Does the initiative process make government so responsive as to be irresponsible? Is marijuana prohibition working any better than alcohol prohibition did? In legislating away both pregnancy and parenthood, have we signed a demographic suicide pact? Is Muslim sharia law compatible with liberty?
Dems and GOP alike have done none too well with our sacred responsibility for “keeping the republic,” in Franklin’s words. May they both feel the righteous wrath of Element R.
I have never met Senator Harry Reid, but he makes me angry. Not just for some of his stances, but because he, and others like him in Washington, cost me a lot of sleep in 2009. Let me explain.
It was around this time last year that my New York City apartment was almost constantly filled with chattering computer keys. Like all starving artists, my roommate needed a side job to supplement his internship. By late fall, a couple of political journalists hired him to transcribe interviews for an upcoming, juicy book about the 2008 election. Because he was working full-time, the transcription took place in the late hours of the night and the wee hours of the morning.
5-8am: Click, click, click, tap, tap, tap10pm-2am: Click, click, click, tap, tap, tap
I would wake up in the middle of the night to a torrential downpour of computer keys. No soothing rain on the roof for me, just the pitter patter of my roommate's Macbook. For awhile I was annoyed. And for the last year I've told him that this “juicy” book better be as good as biting into a ripe plum. He promised me it would. This week, I found out he wasn't kidding. Come January 14, when the book finally comes out, you will too.
The book, called Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, could be one of the most revealing of its kind. Think Deep Throat in prose. Even though it doesn't come out until Tuesday, it's already creating controversy. Marc Ambinder over at The Atlantic points out some of the best, or worst, parts. There are details about explosive arguments between John and Elizabeth Edwards, frank conversations between Giuliani staffers, another Clinton affair, and comments that will prompt more apologies than the board game “Sorry.”
Just ask Senator Reid. On Saturday, the New York Times reported that the Nevada Democratic called President Obama to issue an apology for statements he gave Heilemann and Halperin. In the book, Reid says he believed Obama could become the country’s first black president because he was “light-skinned” and had “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”
It's quotes such as this that should permeate the book. And it's books such as this that give us an inside look at the imperfect world of politics. Ambinder says it best:
“[T]his book . . . portrays politics as it is actually lived by the candidates, their staff and the press, which is to say a messy, sweaty, ugly, arduous competition between flawed human beings . . . .”
Senator Reid knows full well about the “messy” part. And after this Thursday, there will be many more people asking many more Beltway bureaucrats “where?” and “why?” But while I can't tell you where or why these words were said, I can tell you where they were most likely transcribed: In a small New York City apartment at about 2am. Click, click, click, tap, tap, tap. Thank you Senator Reid.
Jonathon M. Seidl is a 2009 graduate of The King’s College in New York City where he studied politics, philosophy, and economics. His writing has appeared in WORLD and online with The American Spectator. He currently writes from Denver, where he works at Colorado Christian University's graduate division.
(CCU Student) On February 10 2009, President Barack Obama’s approval rating peaked at a healthy 65.5%. The man seemed politically invulnerable with both houses under his party’s control and almost two out of three people in the country approving of the direction Obama was going to take the country. Throughout the course of 2009, Obama’s approval rating has been steadily declining and currently stands in most polls at around 50%. As the 2010-midterm elections approach, many political commentators are expecting a repeat of the 1994 election where the Republicans won major victories in both the House and the Senate, essentially a complete turnaround of the 2008 elections.
Surely, most everyone expects Obama’s approval rating to decline somewhat after the typical honeymoon period was over, but to the point where there is a realistic possibility of the Republicans who only a year ago were cast out of Washington would make a full recovery if not come out stronger then in 2008? What happened? The answer is in how Barack Obama has been conducting his administration. He has become a victim of his own successes and at the same time, extremely indecisive on many main issues. Whether or not one agrees with his policies, Barack Obama had resounding success in passing legislation, especially at the beginning of the year. In his first 100 days, he was able to pass a stimulus bill that, at the time, cost more than the entire Iraq war with little opposition. In April, America was projected to run budget deficits that ran around $1.4 trillion dollars and there with relatively little resistance to this major increase in spending. Barak Obama has also succeeded in passing a bill that would increase the amount of troops in Afghanistan by 30,000. Now he is working on an overhaul of the entire American healthcare system, not bad for a president who has only been in office for a year.
So why has his approval rating gone down? Obama has simply become a victim of his own success. He has been successful in everything he has put serious effort into, with the possible exception of his healthcare program (which still may pass but it has not been easy). Yet the problems of recession, Afghanistan, and many other issues seem to be just getting worse. Who are the American people going to blame other than the man who promised economic recovery and the withdrawal of troops from Middle East battlefields? Many Americans are irritated that the problems of America cannot be solved quickly. Above all, it seems Obama has frustrated almost everybody, people from every political faction. He frustrated those who voted for him by not solving the economic crisis quickly and by agreeing to the troop increase in Afghanistan, and to the left he has not done nearly enough to fulfill his massive agenda he entered the White House with (he still has yet to address the issues of environmental change, gay rights, the education system, and NAFTA). Economic conservatives feel that this out of control spending is going to hurt us in the long run and this ongoing healthcare battle is upsetting everyone. On top of all this, he has been indecisive on just about every major issue presented to him. Granted, Obama has only held office for a year, but the man who came into office with the intention of change has been somewhat hesitant on how this change is going to be accomplished. On the healthcare battle issue, Obama has said relatively little about the details of healthcare reform, but has been expending tremendous political capital in passing this bill that is currently held up in Congress. When the media asks him directly about public option, he seems to waver one day saying that the bill must have a public option, and the next day stating it is not a necessity. Same story with the situation in Afghanistan. To his credit, Obama eventually did commit the troops requested by his generals; however, it took him almost three months to come to this conclusion. The trend in his administration seems to consist of setting broad goals and, even if these goals are not met, coming up with some sort of legislation that merely represents change. Americans are starting to realize this and even people who traditionally vote Democratic are starting to get dissatisfied with his lack of resolve on issues (for example, the gay community, and Obama’s apparent lack of results for the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in the armed forces and gay marriage.) Lastly, Americans are starting to get sick of hearing how every problem in America is a result of the Bush Administration actions rather than the policies passed by the Obama Administration. The wars in the Middle East, economic recession, global warming all are Bush’s fault. While there may be some legitimacy to these claims, people the public is getting fed up with hearing about how these problems are not Obama’s fault but Bush’s. The longer his administration is in power, the truer this will become. A 50% approval rating hardly indicates the fall of the Obama administration. However, the man who was seemingly politically unstoppable at the beginning of the year has been shown to be mortal. He has alienated both the left and the right by doing what seems to be everything wrong to the right and not enough action to the left.
Americans are also starting to realize that the man who promised to reform Washington is starting to become tired and indecisive while blaming the past administration for his problems. Whether or not the Republicans are triumphant in the 2010-midterm election only time will tell, but the fact that it is even a possibility shows how far Obama’s image has fallen.
(Centennial Fellow) Hitting to all fields: (1) Barack Obama may be a far better orator than George W. Bush, but when Bush delivered a message, despite his sometimes mangled syntax, everyone knew what he stood for. Because Obama's elocution is superior, only later do people realize they have no idea what he really meant.
(2) If overhauling the nation's health care system is so urgent that lawmakers can't be afforded time to read the bills before they vote, why does so much of the legislation not take effect until after the 2012 election?
(3) Obama vowed that he wouldn't sign health legislation if it adds "even one dime to our deficit over the next decade — and I mean what I say." The Senate bill costs $900 billion and, we now know, its alleged savings were counted twice and spent elsewhere in the bill. Obama also promised that health "reform" would "cut the average family's premium by about $2,500 per year" and he opposed a requirement that everyone must purchase insurance. The Senate bill is estimated to double or triple premiums for young families and, of course, requires them to buy insurance or pay a fine. What's more alarming — that Obama believes what he says, when so much is demonstrably untrue, or that he thinks most people still believe him?
(4) The test of a politician's commitment to limited government is if he still believes in limited government when his party is in power. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) was first elected in 1984. He's seen Republicans win majorities when they focused on limited government, constitutional freedom and economic growth. Yet, Barton wants Congress to require a college football post-season playoff and make it unlawful to call any game the "national championship" unless it is the culmination of a playoff.
(5) Notwithstanding Gov. Bill Ritter's proclamations and ribbon cuttings, the "new energy economy" isn't recession proof. A wind turbine manufacturer in Windsor first announced that 500 employees would be furloughed, then suggested they would be reassigned to other tasks and could face indefinite "long weekends" while production of turbine blades is halted. Once upon a time, politicians understood that a good energy policy produced power from reliable sources at affordable prices. Today, too many lawmakers think it's their job to prefer certain sources of energy — solar, wind and other "renewables" — and to impede others — namely, oil, gas, hydro and nuclear. Anyone who opposes an energy policy that utilizes all available sources is either woefully uninformed or has an ulterior motive for wanting to impose higher costs and fewer choices on everyone else.
(6) Government can't create jobs that contribute to a productive economy because government doesn't produce anything that people want to purchase. That's why government resorts to taxation.
(7) Majority rule can be just as dangerous as a despotic dictator. Consider Social Security, Medicare and the proposed federal takeover of health care: No one in their right mind would look their children or grandchildren in the eye and say, "You must pay two or three times more for health insurance, so I can buy my health insurance at less than half what it really costs." Nor would they saddle their loved ones with tens of thousands of dollars of debt and a future of soaring tax rates and meager economic opportunities. And for what? To support an unsustainable system of health care entitlements and a retirement Ponzi scheme that would be considered fraudulent were it operated by anyone other than government.
(8) If pro-life politics are so unfashionable, then how is it that Democrats — the party that won't even allow pro-life elected officials to speak at their national conventions — couldn't pass their health care bill in either the House or the Senate, despite huge majorities, without accommodating abortion foes?
(9) Just wondering: is dissent still patriotic?
Centennial Fellow Mark Hillman served as senate majority leader and state treasurer. To read more or comment, go to www.MarkHillman.com.
('76 Editor) Also from our Head On mini-debate series on Colorado Public Television, Susan Barnes-Gelt and I vie for the oddest angle on what the New Year of 2010 might bring. Don't hold your breath for any of this to come true, but the wacky speculation is an amusing pastime as Jan. 1 rushes toward us.
John: Break out the funny hats and champagne. It’s John and Susan’s fearless predictions of 2010. To balance the budget, Ritter sells the Teamsters naming rights to the gold dome. Romanoff wins the Senate nomination by proving his carbon footprint is smaller. Oprah wins the Nobel Peace Prize for finally leaving us in peace.
Susan: Bill Ritter gets re-elected and Andrew Romanoff goes to the U.S. Senate. The Denver Public School board and administration implode and Hickenlooper takes over the District. Smart Cars, walking and motorized bikes become the dominant modes of transportation and the country’s collective waistline shrinks.
John: More 2010 predictions from our twisted crystal ball. Al Gore goes into grief therapy as the climate scare collapses. Tiger Woods converts to Islam for the polygamy. Obama moves right and names Tom Tancredo as Secretary of Homeland Security. Gen. Petraeus announces for president anyway. Happy New Year!
Susan: Wall Street funds the program to rebuild America’s bridges, schools and parks out of their ill-gotten gains and bonuses – Airlines charge for carry-on instead of checked bags – thereby incenting good behavior. Hickenlooper works to build transit instead of traveling to Copenhagen to talk about it. Peace.
('76 Editor) Fast away the old year passes! And as it does, Colorado Public Television is airing my backward glance at the newsmakers deserving of conservative bouquets and brickbats in 2009, counter-balanced by the liberal perspective of Susan Barnes-Gelt. Here's the take from the two of us:
John: Back by popular demand. As inevitable, and indigestible, as a Christmas fruitcake: our winners and sinners honor roll for the old year. I say hurrah for the tea parties, the townhalls, and the return of Sarah Palin. I say bahhh for Obama’s apology tour and the political correctness that enabled Fort Hood.
Susan: Our celebrity culture that values 2-seconds of fame – Balloon Boy, party crashers and Tiger’s domestic kerfuffle – over reason and good manners gets my stale fruitcake award. BRAVO to the legion of smart women influencing policy from our own Hillary Clinton to French finance minister Christine LaGarde.
John: More winners and sinners as 2009 passes into history. Hallelujah for the President’s decision on troops to Afghanistan and for the rebound of Rockies, Nuggets, and Broncos. Humbug for the Denver teachers union and for the humanist ads claiming we can be good without God. We can’t!
Susan; A bushel of rotten tomatoes to both parties in Congress for selling out to insurance giants and big pharm by watering down every healthcare bill. Shame on the Denver school board and administration for behaving badly. Hurray for the millions of people who do the right thing – every day.