We want to acknowledge a well-intentioned editorial from The Denver Post on Friday, titled "A move to the middle for Colorado Republicans?" As our long-time readers know, this blog has accurately narrated for many years now as the Colorado Republican Party has alienated itself from the state's present and future majorities, with results increasingly undeniable in the form of five consecutive electoral defeats since 2004–even in years where the national political trends were strongly with Republicans, as was the case in 2010. We've been accused of celebrating this alienation, but the truth is, our warnings to the GOP have been sincere, and the consequences we have witnessed can very arguably be considered objectively bad. As Republicans have lost touch with the voters of Colorado, and lost elections, an honest representative viewpoint for conservatives in our politics–a viewpoint still very much prevalent among many of our state's citizens–has been undermined.
In the Denver Post's editorial Friday, a reported incremental change of heart on the part of a few Republican lawmakers on the ASSET legislation for undocumented students is celebrated as a "years overdue" "migration to the middle." They express hope for more such "migrations," on issues like civil unions for gays and lesbians, and (though they note it is unlikely) reducing gun violence. A truly moderate GOP, says the Post, might "be a voice for many Coloradans who hold centrist views that fall on the GOP side of the spectrum."
We want to be clear, as we have said so many times over the years, that we too would welcome a genuine move to the center by Colorado Republicans. We think that, partisan advantage notwithstanding, most Democrats would prefer to have less-unhinged conversations about the issues facing our state.
So it is really too bad that we have to pop the Post's bubble now.
Our friend Jason Salzman, writing last month, noted a column from Republicans Josh Penry and Rob Witwer from November, calling out Colorado Republicans for extremist predilections and telling their GOP contemporaries that they must "improve or die." Unfortunately, as Salzman proceeded to illustrate:
Now, two short months later, most Republicans at the State Capitol are lining up against the ASSET bill, offering reduced tuition to undocumented college students.
The Post's Lynn Bartels is calmly pointing out that even fewer Republican lawmakers appear to support a civil-unions bill this year than last year, because the GOP moderates were booted out by voters.
Rep. Cory Gardner is proudly telling the media how much he'd love to fill the GOP tent with women and Hispanics, without saying he's against all abortion, some forms of birth control, as well as comprehensive immigration reform. Ditto for the rest of the CO GOP delegation, at least with respect to a path to citizenship.
Despite the fact that Sen. Greg Brophy has indicated, Robert Ramirez-style, that he might see fit this year to vote for the same ASSET bill he has eloquently denounced in prior years–which is what the Post based its whole happy assessment that the GOP may be "moving to the middle" on–look at the bills Republicans have actually introduced this year. The bill to make science class safe for creationism, or the total, no-incest-or-rape-exception abortion ban. Or the party's answer to the call for new gun violence protections with bills to Wild Westify Colorado classrooms, and restore gun rights to some convicted felons. When asked about the abortion bills last month, the Post's Lynn Bartels quotes GOP House Minority Leader Mark Waller saying, "We're not going to be the kind of caucus that puts our thumbs on people and says, 'This is what you get to do and this is what you don't get to do.'"
If that's the case–if there is no will to rein in the extremists and follow through on the new moderate image they need–what Waller's caucus "gets to do" is remain a minority. And no amount of wishful thinking from an overly generous (unions excepted!) Denver Post editorial board is going to change that.