Elections have consequences and might produce blisters
“War has rules. Mud wrestling has rules. Politics has no rules.” — Ross Perot
It’s all over but the shouting. And the whining. And more doomsday predictions about the decline of morality and the end of civilization as we know it.
We’re hearing about “victory laps” and “legislative extravagance” and “the year of the unabashed liberal.” And that’s even before this morning’s Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast, which annually gives our local legislators a chance to spin the most recently concluded session of the Colorado General Assembly.
“It” is the reaffirmation during the session that ended last Wednesday that statewide politics in Colorado are a bit more moderate than we “enjoy” here in Happy Valley. There’s plenty of evidence to confirm that.
Start at the top of the hierarchy of statewide elected offices. Both of our U.S. senators and our governor have a D after their names, as do three of our seven members of the House of Representatives.
Alternatively, when your bench starts with Scott Gessler and Walker Stapleton, when you’re forced to regurgitate the name of Bob “No, that’s the horse’s behind over there” Beauprez, maybe a message is being sent, if not received.
(For newcomers and those with short memories, one enduring image of Beauprez’s unsuccessful run for governor is the former congressman’s own campaign materials featuring him standing next to the southern end of a northbound horse.)
Clearly the message sent by Colorado voters, no matter their political persuasion, is elections have consequences. That’s true at the top of the statewide ticket, in local city and county balloting and, as we’ve just seen, at the Legislature.
Among other things, lawmakers finally gave Colorado high school graduates who, through no fault of their own, were brought to this country illegally, in-state tuition rates at our colleges. They tightened up gun laws, extended remedies for discriminatory practices to employees of all businesses, offered the protection of civil unions, reformed election laws and sent rural electric co-ops farther down the road toward what other providers are already doing regarding alternative energy use.
When you hear about all that being too “progressive,” just remember that the opposite of that is “regressive.” When you hear about legislative excesses, recall then-Speaker Frank McNulty refusing to let civil unions come up for a vote in the Colorado House in the waning days of the 2012 legislative session. Or the majority- rule-evading tactic in the U.S. Senate of now requiring 60 votes for any substantive legislation.
Already there’s reaction to perceived over-reaches in the Colorado legislature.
In three or four legislative districts, there are threats to recall lawmakers, particularly those who supported tighter gun laws. Here on the Western Slope, Durango-area lawmaker Mike McLachlan is a target, along with Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and a couple of Denver-area Democrats.
I don’t suppose we’ll hear locals who oppose the potential recall of new Grand Junction City Councilor Rick Brainard once he’s served 90 days (on the council, not in jail) because voters have already spoken. That also argues against the recall of McLachlan, Morse and others.
Repeat after me. Elections have consequences.
That’s the takeaway for the folks seeking the ouster of Brainard, who was put into office in a low-turnout election that also changed the council majority.
That’s the message to the GOP statewide, which persists in staking out positions clearly at odds with the majority of voters.
It’s the signal to local Democrats who rarely field candidates for local offices. And a wake-up call to moderate Republicans who’ve absented themselves from the political process and let the fringe folks take over their local party.
Here’s some sage advice, given long ago, that might be heeded by Republicans sorrowful about the way the worm turned in the recent legislative session, Democrats upset over congressional roadblocks and locals worried about the emergence of our new third political party in Mesa County, the “education” arm of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” — Abraham Lincoln.