Many opportunities in 2013 
to see dangers of progressivism

At the beginning of a new year it’s appropriate to discuss things both old and new. The new that caught my attention was on this very opinion page earlier in the week in a column by George Will of The Washington Post.

Will makes the point that despite years of efforts by conservatives to raise some voters’ awareness on the fallacy inherent in most progressive policies by citing historical, economic and social examples of their failures, the most effective means of alerting voters to theses problems was having some of these policies begin to be implemented.

It’s a sad commentary when someone has to be pressed firmly onto the stove before they’ll believe it is hot, but that appears to be how things work for many people.

Nationally, the rapidly evolving catastrophe in health care, an economic slump that makes the Carter administration look snappy and a foreign policy of which Neville Chamberlain could be proud seem to have awakened the Rip van Winkle contingent of the American public.

Colorado has its own version of these issues, with the most embarrassing being the national joke that the state is becoming due to its legalization of marijuana.

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about how Colorado is going to handle drug tourism — and I don’t really care how you say it, that doesn’t sound like a good thing. Having people travel to your state so they can lie around on drugs and watch the sunsets without getting hauled off to the hoosegow is hard to put on a tourism poster.

My suggestion might be something along the lines of a photograph of a marijuana leaf, a mountain and a bag of Cheetos. This probably sums up the experience many of these narco-tourists will be looking for in the state.

The passage of this issue by ballot initiative is another one of those situations, somewhat peculiar to our state, where an issue is passed by the confluence of strange bedfellows. In this instance, it would mainly consist of people who either are already high or would like to be — the core audience of the Cartoon Network.

These folks find themselves in curious alliance with a completely different faction of people, those who no longer want to see their tax dollars spent trying to stop the first group from spending the day stoned in their footie pajamas.

If this experience isn’t enough to make voters in Colorado try to find the next Calvin Coolidge for governor, let’s not forget the potpourri of progressivism that was served up by last year’s Legislature. Messing around with people’s Second Amendment rights cost the Democrats three state senators — well, two and a half if you count Evie Hudak resigning to dodge a recall and being replaced by a political clone.

Voters in Colorado were given a real taste of the progressive agenda and, as George Will observed, it might be the best thing to happen to conservatism in a while. We even received a great example of tongue-tied overreach when the usual suspects managed to get Amendment 66 on the ballot last year and asked for $1 billion to be applied to the most amorphous definition of “education” voters had heard in recent memory.

The really outstanding example of disconnection run amok was in the corollary application for a two-tiered income-tax system in a state that has historically had a flat tax. That’s bad enough, but when you try to use the proposed new tax system to raise taxes on everybody instead of picking some targeted group that doesn’t have enough members to sway the vote totals, you’re just not thinking things through.

This is all old news, but now that polling data shows how damaging it has become to people like Gov. John Hickenlooper, a lot of state officials and even to U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, who’s been spinning his positions on everything so fast he makes a weather vane jealous, you tend to see it in a new way.

Last year’s political failures appear to be what the left likes to call “a teachable moment” for voters about progressivism.

Rick Wagner writes more on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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