Democrats, liberals and progressives have been complaining for decades, at least since the election of Ronald Reagan, that an ever-growing portion of blue-collar Americans vote against their economic interests. This interpretation of voting behavior rests on the proposition that Republicans refuse to endorse, let alone pass, programs that would financially subsidize health care, infrastructure, higher education, family tax credits and childcare – the entire Build Back Better basket of proposed investments in social infrastructure. Rather than accusing these voters of ignorance or terminal stupidity, it’s probably time to ask whether Republicans are offering policy priorities that many Americans find more valuable than what they perceive as a few extra dollars.
To dismiss cultural clashes as mere distractions is to miss the point. The governor of Colorado has deftly navigated his way through the stormy seas of recent years. Jared Polis banked his 2018 campaign on promises to lower the cost of health care and provide free preschool education to every child. I predicted, during the emergence of COVID-19, that Polis would arrive in 2022 as unbeatable or ineligible. A recent poll indicates he could be bulletproof for re-election. His decision to introduce “save the Colorans money” this year may be partly a political sleight of hand – the deferral of fees imposed by the legislature, increases he also approved, are welcome even if something of a three-card Monte game. It’s certainly not as tone-deaf, however, as Denver’s decision to maintain revenue despite fewer visitors feeding downtown parking meters by doubling fines for every conceivable parking violation.
Republicans, conservatives, Tea Party vengefuls and Trumpists have begun to morph into a separate fantasy world where they can challenge the liberal bias of reality and the 2020 election results. COVID-19 has shaken the foundations Republican messaging much more than for Democrats. After decades of alarms warning of the dangers of budget deficits, it turns out that we were rich enough to provide free vaccinations, goose unemployment checks and pour buckets of cash on taxpayers, restaurants, small businesses and local governments – much of that largesse doled out with Republican Support. Those who were already wealthy got richer while the middle class got by. Who thought all this spending was even possible? Our economy, as measured by the stock market, is booming with little evidence of impending collapse. Republicans are reduced to grumbling that a flooded market with cash is the culprit for rampant inflation. Maybe, maybe not.
Is it conceivable that deficit economics is completely wrong? Meanwhile, what went haywire with our politics?
In Colorado, we have two elected clerks and recorders in heavily Republican counties who think Biden’s victory was stolen despite their local results being two-to-one for Trump. Their concerns were so great that they illegally copied the electoral registers from their computer servers and passed the data on to conspiracy theorists. How crazy is that?
Why is someone linking vaccinations to their policy? None of the COVID-19 variants have registered as Democrats. What’s admirable about risking your life for a triple jester who is currently driving his supporters to riot if he’s indicted? Don’t worry, the graces will follow, he promises. In response to gun stores closing during California’s COVID shutdowns, Lawrence VanDyke, a Trump appointee to a federal appeals court, wrote, “The acute need for Second Amendment rights during temporary crises was well understood by our founders…” as “…a strong moral check against usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers, and as a necessary and effective means of regaining rights when temporarily overthrown.” I hope you are joking? Admittedly, keeping liquor stores and pot shops open in Colorado as essential businesses seemed a little odd, even if widely appreciated. Weapons and ammunition? Not really.
Am I the only person who finds a lot of what passes for news these days mystifying?
Skiers are suing Colorado resorts because the lift lines are too long, largely due to the difficulty of hiring lift operators.
A thousand families burned their homes, apparently from an underground coal seam fire that was never extinguished.
Used cars sold at new car prices
It’s a good time to look away from Washington and focus on Colorado’s challenges. We have roads that still need to be repaired. A water crisis is just another year of drought. We rank dead last for mental health services. Saving us money may prove to be a short-lived initiative before our Governor starts looking for additional dollars.
Miller Hudson is a public affairs consultant and former Colorado legislator.