Colorado Republicans: The Crazy Will Not Be Denied

There is an excellent story in today's Denver Post from reporters Tim Hoover and Lynn Bartels, two of the most experienced local political reporters left at the state's flagship newspaper after years of cutbacks. Expounding on a theme we've devoted a great deal of attention to since the beginning of this year, that is the inability of the Colorado Republican Party to moderate, even as critics local and national say the party must abandon its increasingly radical and bigoted image to remain viable–after almost a decade now of consecutive electoral defeats.

As we have said repeatedly, and Hoover and Bartels explore creditably today, the fact of the Colorado GOP's failure to moderate in the wake of 2012's defeats is not partisan propaganda. In the form of numerous pieces of legislation even more to the right than in previous years, such as freshman Rep. Steve Humphrey's near-total abortion ban and and pro-creationism in schools bills, and even less support for civil unions in the GOP caucus than existed before the election, the Colorado Republican Party's failure to recognize the changes need to stay competitive in this state appears likely to cost them yet another chance at recapturing legislative majorities in 2014. 

Former Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry is frequently cited these days as a voice calling for change in the party–largely on the strength of a single op-ed he co-authored with former GOP Rep. Rob Witwer saying as much. The fact is, there is little in Penry's record to suggest he has any credibility in calling for Republican moderation–this is the same Senate Minority Leader who presided over the Dave Schultheis era of his caucus, refusing even to condemn Schultheis as he hoped babies would get AIDS (not kidding, new readers).

“People are entitled to their opinions,” the Grand Junction Republican said. “It’s not my job to go around and censure people and tell them what to say.”

Apparently Penry no longer thinks so. But when he had the chance to make a difference, Minority Leader Josh Penry was part of the GOP's problem.

We have said that the Republican Party needs to "moderate," but as Rep. Humphrey says, the bills he is running reflect the campaign platform he ran on and his constituents voted for. As Hoover and Bartels report, Sen. Owen Hill has been "savaged" by his constituent El Paso County conservatives after he announced he would support the ASSET legislation for tuition equity for undocumented students. Sen. Greg Brophy is held up as a positive example since he says he may vote for the bill, but from gun policy to Brophy's unapologetic misogynist attacks on Sandra Fluke, he's just not somebody that Republicans should be giving face time to.

In short, the reason the Republican Party can't "change course" and moderate is that is not who they are. It can't be solved by a facelift, and the moderation the party needs can never be realized if their base won't allow it. The Republican Party has always, at its heart, been a coalition between self-interested wealthy Americans, and allied popular constituencies of various and changing descriptions that gave the former enough numbers to win elections.

As Colorado continues its evolution into diversity and urbanization, the GOP and the shrinking minority of the population their coalition of wealth and ignorance represents makes us wonder if there is no turning back. Certainly something has to emerge to repesent these segments of the population, and others within the conservative coalition, but we can't tell you what it should look like. Or if it can ever be a majority in Colorado again.

12 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. rathmone says:

    Waller's line: "We're not going to be the kind of caucus that puts our thumbs on people." is pretty much an abdication of party leadership. Why not just admit they're still terrified of RMGO, Colorado Right-To-Life and the Tea Party die-hards? 

  2. JeffcoBlue says:

    I think it's imperative that Colorado not be allowed to forget what a right wing tool Josh Penry was. And is. The change Penry wants is whatever fake change is needed to keep the oil and gas industry with representation.

    • Duke Cox says:

      Indeed, JeffcoBlue,

      I know who Josh hangs with..Gertie and Pita know even better than I.

      Josh has the scent of money and power in his nostrils..he is intoxicated with it. He knows what to say and DO to prove he is sincere…but it won't happen. He has, as you suggest, condensate in his veins and fracking fluid on his breath.

  3. Tom says:

    I happen to be one of Steve Humphrey's constituents and while I didn't vote for him, his platform was almost certainly not what won him the election. He won a primary against a conservative republican and was only opposed by a non-campaigning libertarian in the general election. There was no actual choice involved when it came to his platform. It's possible that the overwhelmingly republican district would've sent him to the statehouse anyway, but we weren't offered a choice. 


    My neighbors may be conservative, but they're not stupid. A quixotic socially conservative agenda isn't on any of our priority lists.

  4. RavenDawg says:

    Save yer breath Pols.

    I've been reading these stories about how the Repubs need to change and how we need a responsible conservative voice to validate the political conversation since the election and frankly I don't give a damn.  There will always be a Republican party,whether they call themselves Royalists or Federalists or Whigs or whatever, because the desire of the haves to exploit the have nots is hard wired into our species.  They're like the Borg–just in a regenerating stage right now, but they'll be back.

    If Dems want a conversation with center-right moderates they can have it in their own party–that's where all the moderate Republicans ended up (including our governor, bless his heart). 

    Right now the Dems focus needs to be on formulating and implementing sensible progressive policies that actually benefit the lives of ordinary folks going forward, whether by legislation, executive action or what have you, to move the state and the nation off the stalemate we've been on and deal with the structural flaws and the really serious problems we face.  If the Repubs are in disarray, that's their problem not mine.  I realize they are still potent to obstruct to the max (and the Dems are mostly quite content to enable that, they are mostly bought and sold by the same masters.)  But I'm a lot more interested in what the Dems are doing with this opportunity than with psychoanalyzing the Republicans.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  

    PS, first post on the updated site, we'll see how this goes. 

    • BlueCat says:

      You don't think we're really concerned about GOP disarray do you ?  For those of us old enough to remember the long decades of Dem disarray, Dem circular firing squads, talking about the poor Rs is more recreational. But I agree we should be more concerned about …

      formulating and implementing sensible progressive policies that actually benefit the lives of ordinary folks going forward, whether by legislation, executive action or what have you, to move the state and the nation off the stalemate we've been on and deal with the structural flaws and the really serious problems we face.

      • Sir Robin says:

        Dear BC and RD:

        The Republicans are a dangerous and delusional bnch who hang on a leg like a bulldog and will never let go of their deceitful and treacherus ways. If they can't gain power by reasonable and legal means, they'll do it through devious and unethical means. It's all the same to them.

        I agree that we need to persistently, consistently, skillfully and fearlessly push forward with every tool available for economic justice, environmental causes and Peace.

        • BlueCat says:

          I know we can't take massive GOP electoral failure for granted, especially  with so many R majority state legislatures gerrymandering the hell out of everything.  But, for so long, they were the party of steam roller hegemony while Dems were the party of self destructive, self doubting, scared out of their minds chaos, you can't blame us for enjoying the present GOP disarray just a little, can you?

          Trust me, I take nothing for granted.  But we do seem to be paying attention and reacting to dastardly schemes, like rigging the electoral vote, in a more forceful and timely manner these days.

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