In Colorado political battles, Dems have more tanks, better strategy
Carl von Clausewitz, a Prussian soldier and famed Hegelian thinker of the early 19th century, whose writings still play a foundational role in the training of the world’s top military brass, famously opined that “war is the continuation of politics by other means.”
Clausewitz posited that the fundamental objectives of both politics and war — i.e. consolidating power, accumulating resources, etc. — were ultimately the same.
For Clausewitz, politics was simply a more peaceful, pre-iteration to war. If disputes about the allocation of power and resources could be settled through political channels, men and nations could avoid the ugly specter of war. If not, political discourse would make its way to a different field where artillery and brute force hold sway.
While politics in modern America is in fact a less-violent, less-brutish means toward the same ends as warfare, that doesn’t mean politics isn’t violent and brutish. These days, it’s hard to find a better description.
Colorado has seen the blurring of the lines between war and politics up close and personal. The most consequential political ground taken in this state over the last decade has been the consequence of the most daring, cunning and lethal maneuvers — and unfortunately for conservatives, those lethal ploys have in almost every instance been the handy work of Democrats, liberals and their money men.
Witness the election of Michael Bennet, a man I know and like but whose blind partisanship is inexplicable and disappointing.
In 2010, Bennet should have had no chance of winning an election in a year when discontent with his party, his votes and his president were off the charts. Bennet himself was a virtual unknown swimming upstream against whirling and negative public sentiment. But win Bennet did, thanks to an unprecedented, unyielding character assassination of his opponent, Ken Buck. It has become popular narrative that Buck was simply too conservative for Colorado, but this is so much hooey. Ken Buck lost for one independent reason alone: The Democratic money machine spent unprecedented sums of cash trying to convince the women of this state that Buck was Attila the Hun.
The army with the most tanks, airplanes or artillery doesn’t always win, but it usually does. The same is true of negative TV commercials and campaigns.
In 2006 and 2008, the same playbook was used by four wealthy liberal donors used to effectively purchase the Colorado Legislature for Democrats. All across the state, a potent network of progressive organizations literally squashed Republican legislative candidates under the weight of repetitious, lethal attacks. As in the election of Bennet versus Buck, the side with the most tanks and most lethal strategies won.
While Republicans did manage to retake significant ground in 2010 with the election of two congressmen, two statewide officials and control of the Colorado House, there is still no doubt that the Democrats and liberals in this state are the more cunning, lethal, effective bunch.
For proof, look no further than the myriad Republican legislative primaries taking place across the state as we speak. In one Colorado Springs primary, they are practically armed in the streets. These political killing-fields are the result of a Democratic-controlled reapportionment process that fabricated new legislative districts which pit popular Republican incumbent against popular Republican incumbent in the same district. Think of it as Democrats igniting a civil war in the Republican camp mere months before the main struggle.
Manipulating the design of legislative and congressional districts to favor one party or another is as old as the word gerrymander. But in Colorado this year, the result was a double whammy for Republicans. Not only do legislative maps favor Democrats in November, but before there’s time to think about the general election, the Republican party and its leaders will have to first endure a round of bloody, expensive and morale depleting incumbent-on-incumbent fistfights.
You gotta give it to the Democrats: Forcing leading Republicans to run against leading Republicans was pure evil genius.
For Clausewitz, war is the continuation of politics by other means. For the liberal strategists whose cynical but effective stratagems have tugged Colorado to the political left, politics just seems to be war. And they are good at it.
Josh Penry is the former minority leader of the Colorado Senate. He is a graduate of Grand Junction High School and Mesa State College.