Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are vastly different in terms of style, background, and platform. But, at a more fundamental level, the candidates are remarkably similar: Each embraces policies to violate people’s freedom of contract and, more broadly, their freedom of association. Both candidates are essentially statist in orientation: They want to employ government force to achieve perceived benefits for some at the cost of others’ wealth and liberty. Continue reading
Sore loser. Snake. Self-absorbed. Traitor. These are just a few of the stones cast at Ted Cruz following his Republican National Convention speech of July 20.
After congratulating Donald Trump for winning the nomination, Cruz nevertheless noticeably did not endorse Trump or ask people to vote for him. Instead, nearly twenty minutes into his speech, Cruz told those assembled to “vote your conscience”—eliciting noticeable boos.
What reasons might Trump’s supporters have to turn on Cruz? Here are a few. You might be outraged at Ted Cruz if . . . Continue reading
For those who advocate liberty, this is a frightening election year. The next president is likely to be Hillary Clinton, who as Secretary of State played fast and loose with sensitive government information, who seems to have used her official position to generate “Clinton cash,” who parrots the anti-producer rhetoric of “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders, and who wants to radically weaken the First and Second Amendments—or Donald Trump, whose loutish, anti-capitalist nativism almost makes Clinton seem like the voice of reason by contrast.
Given the sorry state of the major parties, and given that the Libertarian Party has nominated someone eminently more qualified than Trump for the presidency, the question naturally arises: Should liberty advocates support the Libertarian, Gary Johnson? We begin to answer this question by evaluating the candidates in terms of policy. Continue reading
One of the great dangers of the 2016 election is that many Americans will mistake Donald Trump for an advocate of capitalism. Although he is a wealthy businessman, Trump is anti-capitalist in ideology. Continue reading
Donald Trump’s leading competitors for the presidency during the last few months in both major parties—with the exceptions of Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina—are far better-qualified than Trump for the position.
Even more remarkable, for the first time in its history, the Libertarian Party is set to nominate a candidate for president more qualified—and eminently so—for the office than the Republican. Gary Johnson, the likely LP candidate, served eight years as governor of New Mexico after building a successful construction company. Trump has never served in public office, although he has operated a largely successful real estate business.
This got me wondering: Has any major candidate for the office ever been less qualified than Donald Trump? Continue reading
Donald Trump has won the Indiana primary—and with it, likely the Republican nomination. So, barring a miracle, it looks like the next president of the most powerful nation in world history will be either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump—two of the people I’d least like to see as president.
No, I don’t think the nomination of Donald Trump will be armageddon for the Republican Party. Nor do I think the election of Donald Trump (if by some miracle he can manage that) will be armageddon for the country.
But his nomination will be very bad for the party, and his election would be very bad for America. Which is why I for one will not be voting for him. Even if that means Hillary wins. Continue reading
Imagine there’s no party on government ballots; it’s easy if you can (with apologies to Lennon). Continue reading
I long thought that Barack Obama would turn out to be the most destructive president in my lifetime (although George W. Bush in many ways set the stage for him). Obama weakened the United States around the world, took half-hearted measures to slow the rise of Islamic terrorism, strengthened Iran’s nuclear ambitions, put health care on the path to total government control, stoked the fires of the politics of envy, and more.
I probably was wrong about Obama being the most destructive.
The rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders indicates that Obama may be just the latest excursion down a long road of destruction. Continue reading
“Bad company corrupts good character,” the Greeks observed (and the apostle Paul quoted). It also corrupts a political campaign. And Ted Cruz, in his zeal to win the support of evangelical voters, has kept terrible company. Continue reading
In a year when Republicans made large gains throughout much of the nation, Colorado Democrats nearly maintained control of state government—thanks in part to Libertarians. As it was, Republicans squeaked by with a single-seat advantage in the state senate, while losing the state house and the governor’s race.
The Libertarian almost certainly cost the Republicans a state senate seat from District 20, where Cheri Jahn beat Larry Queen by 33,303 to 32,922 votes—a difference of only 381 votes. Meanwhile, Libertarian Chris Heismann earned 4,968 votes. (I’m relying on “unofficial results” from the Colorado Secretary of State throughout.)
Of course, there’s no reason to think that everyone who voted Libertarian would otherwise vote Republican, but in this case it’s hard to believe that Jahn would have won except for the Libertarian on the ballot.
Meanwhile, in District 5, Democrat Kerry Donovan beat Republican Don Suppes by 27,044 to 25,981 votes, a difference of 1,063. The Libertarian earned 2,339 votes (so it’s less clear the candidate cost the Republican).
In District 19, Libertarian Gregg Miller arguably nearly cost Republican Laura Woods her narrow victory; Miller earned 3,638 votes, while Woods won by only 689 votes. (However, Woods, a supporter of abortion bans and so-called “personhood” legislation, alienated many liberty-minded voters, including me.)
In District 24, Republican Beth Martinez-Humenik probably would have lost if a Libertarian had been in the race; she beat Democrat Judy Solano by only 876 votes.
Remarkably, Libertarians did not cost Republicans any state-wide races. Republican Cory Gardner won the U.S. Senate seat (although he got less than 50 percent of the vote), and Republican Bob Beauprez lost by substantially more votes than the Libertarian received. (Each U.S. House victor received over 50 percent of the vote.)
Claims that Libertarians cost Republicans races are nothing new; they crop up every two years. As another example, this year Libertarian Robert Sarvis most likely cost Republican Ed Gillespie a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia. “Spoilers” are an inherent aspect of single-vote, winner-take-all elections with more than two candidates.
Is there any alternative? To date, Republicans have attempted, without much success, to persuade Libertarians to stay off the ballot. Then, after elections, Republicans berate Libertarians for “costing” them races. This inevitably leads to nasty exchanges between Republicans and Libertarians, with the end result that Libertarians become angrier than ever toward Republicans and resolve to keep running candidates. Some Libertarians even argue that their source of power and influence is their ability to cost Republicans some elections.
There is a better way, and it is approval voting. Approval voting simply allows voters to vote for more than one candidate. So, for example, someone could vote for both the Republican and the Libertarian (or the Democrat and the Libertarian, or whatever combination). Then the candidate with the most votes overall wins. (Total votes exceed total voters, because many voters cast more than one vote.) There are no rankings and no runoffs; it’s a very simple voting system to understand and to implement.
With approval voting, it might still be the case that some Republicans lose by a smaller margin that the Libertarian’s vote total. If so, Republicans could not complain that Libertarians “stole” an election, because voters had an opportunity to vote Republican as well, yet chose not to.
Another advantage to approval voting is that it would provide a better indicator for how much support the victor actually has. Currently, it is common for candidates to win with less than 50 percent of the vote. Under approval voting, winning with less than 50 percent would indicate widespread dissatisfaction with the victor.
Approval voting obviously would be good for Colorado Republicans. The GOP often faces Libertarian competition, whereas Democrats rarely face left-leaning minor candidates.
Approval voting also would be good for third parties, I think. Rather than regard Libertarians as dangerous competitors, Republicans would see an opportunity to woo Libertarian votes.
Approval voting likely would be bad for Colorado Democrats electorally, at least in the short run, but it’s hard to see how Democrats can in good conscience oppose a voting system that is more democratic in important ways. If it’s good that people are able to vote for one candidate, as Democrats incessantly claim, then is it not better if people are able to vote for more than one candidate in a race? And it remains possible that Democrats will face stiff competition from a third party—remember Ralph Nader in 2000.
My aim, of course, is not to maximize democracy (e.g., mob rule), but to maximize government’s protection of individual rights. But I think approval voting likely would be, on net, both more democratic and (marginally) more supportive of rights-respecting government. Why not implement it?
This morning a user on Twitter asked me if I was involved with LibertasColorado.org, the “Libertas Institute Colorado.” I was horrified to learn that the web site had stolen the last two years’ worth of my blog posts and was reproducing them in full. I did not authorize this reproduction of my content. (The site was also pulling in other content without permission.) After I notified the person to whom the web site is registered, he pulled down the page.
The same Twitter user said she received a late-night robocall on behalf of Libertarian candidate Gaylon Kent, and she thought that the robocall may have been associated with Libertas Institute Colorado.
I do not know if the robocall was associated with the same organization that stole my intellectual property, or if the robocaller is totally unrelated and merely used a similar-sounding name.
Gaylon Kent says he did not authorize the robocalls. See also the 9News story on the matter. I contacted 9News, and reporters there were not sure who originated the robocalls. I have not obtained or heard any audio recording of the robocalls. [See below.]
Obviously I had nothing to do with the robocalls; prior to this morning, I had never heard of Gaylon Kent or of Libertas Institute Colorado or any like-named group. (I probably saw Kent’s name on my ballot, but I paid no attention to it.)
All in all, this has been a frustrating morning, first to have to deal with the theft of my intellectual property, and then to be associated with a dubious campaign effort (even if by accident) of which I had no knowledge.
October 20 Update: I just realized that 9News includes the audio of the call in question. It ends, “This message brought to you by the Libertas Institute.”
October 13 Update: Although I still have not personally heard from Kraft-Tharp, 9News reports that she stated, “I publicly denounce this ad” (see below for details). Christine Ridgeway, Jessica’s grandmother, told 9News, “I am just totally disgusted by this [set of ads]. When I first saw this I was speechless for like four hours. I was just so angry and so upset that I just couldn’t speak.” Good for Kraft-Tharp for condemning the political mailers in question. However, I’d still like to know her answers to my questions regarding the Fourth Amendment. –AA
I’ve seen nasty political ads, as have we all. But a recent set of mailers in my Colorado state house district are beyond nasty; they are reprehensible. An independent expenditure committee, Priorities for Colorado (“Jim Alexee, registered agent”) has turned the horrific murder of a little girl into a political stunt.
The ads target Susan Kochevar, the Republican candidate running against Tracy Kraft-Tharp, state representative for District 29. One ad states, “Susan Kochevar refused to cooperate with the FBI in the Jessica Ridgeway case.” The relevant fact, as Kochevar confirmed via email, is that the FBI requested to search her home on three different occasions, without a warrant, and she declined the warrantless searches—as is the Fourth Amendment right of every American. But the smear campaign treats her sensible actions as somehow sinister, asking, “What kind of person refuses to cooperate when a 10 year old girl goes missing?”
But the appropriate question is, what kind of person turns the horrific murder of a little girl into a political stunt? The answer is Jim Alexee and Julie Wells do. They are the “registered agent” and “designated filing agent” for Priorities for Colorado IE Committee. (I will email copies of the ads on request.)
What Kochevar did precisely is follow the advice of the ACLU:
If the police or immigration agents come to your home, you do not have to let them in unless they have certain kinds of warrants.
Ask the officer to slip the warrant under the door or hold it up to the window so you can inspect it. A search warrant allows police to enter the address listed on the warrant, but officers can only search the areas and for the items listed. An arrest warrant allows police to enter the home of the person listed on the warrant if they believe the person is inside. . . .
If an FBI agent comes to your home or workplace, you do not have to answer any questions. Tell the agent you want to speak to a lawyer first. If you are asked to meet with FBI agents for an interview, you have the right to say you do not want to be interviewed. If you agree to an interview, have a lawyer present.
Apparently Alexee and Wells need a refresher on the text and significance of the Fourth Amendment. We’ll start with the language itself:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Quite simply, the Fourth Amendment is our basic protection against living in a police state.
This is a very personal story for me. I live within a few minutes’ walk of Ketner reservoir, where the murderer in question once (before he killed) attempted to abduct a woman who was out for a jog. My wife and I walk the very trails where this murderer walked; the woman he attempted to abduct might as easily have been my wife or someone I know in the neighborhood. My theory is that, after the murderer failed to abduct an adult woman, he turned his sights to a younger, smaller victim in the neighborhood. Before I heard about the girl’s disappearance, I saw crews of people sweeping a local field, so I knew something was up. It was as though a black cloud descended on the entire neighborhood, as first we waited and hoped, then we wept in sorrow and outrage. It was a horrible time, and obviously unspeakably horrific for the friends and family of the victim.
Everyone in the neighborhood was relieved when the perp was caught, and I’m very glad the FBI participated in the investigation. However, despite the fact that the FBI did some great work, the FBI also arguably violated people’s rights in my neighborhood by harassing them if they did not consent to warrantless searches or warrantless collections of DNA. (See my write-up.) In my view, the FBI did these things, not primarily to collect evidence, but to “sweat” people and see what might crack open. Looking at this from the perspective of law enforcement, I kind of understand the tactic. When you’ve got little to go on, and there’s a brutal child killer on the loose, I’m sure it can be very tempting to cut some constitutional corners.
However, nothing about the story justifies American citizens consenting to warrantless fishing-expedition searches. We do not live in a police state. Law enforcement ought not go door to door searching houses without cause, and certainly FBI agents, who have sworn to uphold the Constitution, ought not harass citizens for invoking their Fourth Amendment rights.
We already know where Jim Alexee and Julie Wells stand. They are perfectly happy to turn a vicious murder into a sick political game.
What I want to know is, where does Tracy Kraft-Tharp, my representative in the legislature, stand on these issues? Does she stand with the ACLU in support of the Fourth Amendment, or does she believe that people ought to submit to warrantless, fishing-expendition searches and DNA collections? In short, does Kraft-Tharp support the Bill of Rights, or not?
I asked Kochevar and Kraft-Tharp about their views on the Fourth Amendment; so far, I have heard from Kochevar, but not Kraft-Tharp (I emailed her and left her two voice messages). Here are my questions and Kochevar’s answers:
1. Do you believe the government has a moral or legal right to search people’s homes or collect their DNA without a warrant or probable cause?
No, the government must show probable cause to a judge and a warrant must be granted.
2. Do you believe that citizens have a moral and legal right to refuse the request of a government agent to conduct a search or to collect DNA, when such agent has neither a warrant nor probable cause?
Yes, citizens do have a moral and legal right to decline a search or the collection of DNA without a warrant.
3. Do you believe that government officials properly are bound by the Bill of Rights?
Yes, I do believe government officials are bound by the Bill of Rights. Government officials swear an oath to the Constitution.
4. In your opinion, what is the significance of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
The Fourth Amendment is a limitation on the government to protect the people from unreasonable searches and seizures.
I asked Kraft-Tharp an additional question via email: “Do you condemn the effort by an independent expenditure committee to smear Susan Kochevar by turning the horrific murder of a little girl in my neighborhood into a political stunt?”
Regarding the Bill of Rights, if Kraft-Tharp cannot plainly state that she supports the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, then she has no business serving in government at any level.
Regarding the smear campaign, Kraft-Tharp’s answer—or, if I do not hear from her, her lack thereof—will say a great deal about her character.
I confess that I tried not to look too closely at the Republican candidate for my Colorado senate district (number 19), Laura Woods, because I was afraid of what I might find. After gleefully witnessing the fall of Evie Hudack following her reckless, Bloomberg-inspired campaign against peaceable gun owners (after which Democrats replaced her with Rachel Zenzinger, now the Democratic candidate), I really wanted the seat to turn Republican.
After the fiascos of ObamaCare (implications of which played out in the state legislature), the Democrats’ persecution of gun owners, the Democrats’ war on energy producers and consumers, and other matters, this would have been an excellent year for the GOP to punish the Democrats and win back some seats. But, Republicans being Republicans (aka “The Stupid Party”), Republicans in my district nominated a candidate I cannot possible vote for.
Thus, just a couple of weeks after announcing I planned to vote a straight-Republican ticket, I now have to make an exception and declare that I cannot and will not vote for Laura Woods. The basic problem is that Woods enthusiastically endorses total abortion bans, including the insane and horrific “personhood” measure on the ballot this year.
(I won’t vote for Zenzinger either. I’ll probably just blank that vote, unless I can figure out how to write in “Turd Sandwich.”)
So congratulations to Mainstream Colorado, “Ashley Stevens, registered agent,” for prompting me to take a closer look at Woods and to thereby change my vote. (This is the first time I can recall in which a political ad has actually had any influence whatsoever on my voting.)
I’ll begin by reviewing a couple of campaign mailers I received from Mainstream. One ad cleverly borrows the language of the right by touting, “Freedom. Responsibility. Hard Work. These are the values Coloradans have cherished for generations.” The ad continues (in part), “Rachel Zenzinger believes women have the right to make their own health care decisions [but not their own self-defense decisions] with their family, their doctor and their faith—without government or bosses getting in the way.” Of course, the bit about “bosses” is a reference to the ObamaCare requirement forcing insurers to cover birth control. Although I don’t agree with Zenzinger on that issue, I definitely agree with her that women have a right to get an abortion.
Then comes the ad’s attack on Woods:
Laura Woods would take away a woman’s freedom to make her own health care decisions. . . . Laura Woods doesn’t think women are responsible enough to make their own decisions [except regarding their self-defense]. Woods supports an extreme plan that would ban all abortions, including in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is in danger. The plan would criminalize doctors who treat women and allow law enforcement to investigate women who suffer miscarriage. She even supports a constitutional amendment that could ban common forms of birth control.
Although some of that language is imprecise and incomplete, it is essentially correct.
A second ad from the outfit makes the same basic claims.
So what are the facts behind the claims in question? Colorado Campaign for Life claims, “Laura Woods answered her Colorado Campaign for Life Survey 100 pro-life (sic).” (The organization also likens Woods’s opponent, Lang Sias, to the baby murderer Kermit Gosnell.) And Colorado Right to Life, which asks candidates if they “oppose all abortion,” affirms that Woods “has rigorously affirmed she is pro-life (sic).” As CBS Denver reports, Woods is a “staunch supporter of the Personhood ballot issue.”
As for why women have a right to get an abortion (and to use the birth control and in vitro fertility treatments of their choice), and for why the “personhood” measure is not about personhood and is indeed anti-life rather than “pro-life,” see the detailed paper on the matter by Diana Hsieh and me.
If there’s one thing that makes me more angry than politicians endorsing stupid policies, it’s journalists writing biased and fact-distorting “news” stories. Frankly I usually don’t expect any better from politicians. But I do expect better from journalists, who are supposed to be the defenders of truth, justice, and America’s constitutional republic.
John Frank’s recent article in the Denver Post, “Bob Beauprez’s IUD Remark in Debate Generates Controversy,” represents the worst kind of biased (and frankly partisan) “reporting.”
By way of background, it is no secret that I advocate a woman’s right to get an abortion and that I strongly oppose the so-called “personhood” ballot measure. Indeed, I’ve spent many hours researching and writing about the “personhood” efforts over the years (see the paper I coauthored with Diana Hsieh). In 2006, the last time Beauprez ran for governor, I endorsed Democrat Bill Ritter over Beauprez, largely over “Beauprez’s religious stand against abortion.” This year, I have (tentatively) endorsed Beauprez over incumbent John Hickenlooper, partly because Beauprez has substantially run away from his efforts to outlaw abortion, and largely because I’m sick of Hickenlooper’s antics.
But whatever my personal positions, and whatever Frank’s personal position may be, intellectually honest people can at least be open and candid about the facts. On that score Frank has failed, miserably.
Frank correctly notes that, in a recent debate, “Beauprez suggested that intrauterine devices, known as IUDs, cause abortion.” Specifically, he said, “IUD is an abortifacient.”
Then Frank writes,
Beauprez drew a rebuke from experts in the medical community who called his assertion false. . . . The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and 10 other physician organizations, as well as the Federal Drug Administration, define IUDs as contraceptives that prevent a pregnancy. . . . Dr. Daniel Grossman, an ob/gyn who does reproductive research and who practices in San Francisco, said the definition of a pregnancy as the implantation of a fertilized egg is an established scientific standard. He said IUDs are not abortifacient.
But the relevant debate is not whether an IUD can kill a zygote once it has implanted in the uterus; rather, it is whether an IUD can kill a zygote before it implants in the uterus—and for Frank to ignore that issue is journalistic incompetence (or else intentional fraud). Basically, Frank is trying to trip up Beauprez on a definition, rather than address the substantive underlying issues.
So what are the facts? In 2012, Pam Belluck wrote for the New York Times:
By contrast [to hormonal birth control pills], scientists say, research suggests that the only other officially approved form of emergency contraception, the copper intrauterine device (also a daily birth control method), can work to prevent pregnancy after an egg has been fertilized.
A web site for Paragard, a brand of copper IUD, states, “The copper in Paragard . . . interferes with sperm movement and egg fertilization. Paragard may prevent implantation.” Implantation of what, you may ask? Obviously, of a zygote. And what happens if a zygote does not implant in the uterus? It dies. The FDA-approved prescription information for Paragard states, “Mechanism(s) by which copper enhances contraceptive efficacy include interference with sperm transport and fertilization of an egg, and possibly prevention of implantation.”
In other words, the copper IUD can work by preventing fertilization, and it can work by preventing the implantation of a (fertilized) zygote. If it works by the first means, it is a “contraceptive,” meaning that it prevents conception. But if it works by the second means, calling it a “contraceptive” is misleading, which is why the so-called “pro-life” crowd calls it “abortifacient.” But, by the definition of Frank’s “experts,” it’s not an abortion if it kills a zygote before it implants in the uterus. Well, they can define it that way if they want, but the definition used does not alter the underlying facts.
Let’s use another example to illustrate the point. I could define a “journalist” as a writer of news stories who gets his facts straight and who does not omit relevant facts. By that definition, John Frank is not a “journalist” (“hack” might be a better descriptive, at least in this case). But another common meaning of “journalist” is simply anyone who gets paid to write for a news organization. By that definition, Frank is a “journalist.” But real journalists (in the first sense of the term) do not play “gotcha” games with definitions as a way to obscure the relevant issues.
I believe the editors of the Denver Post do have integrity and do try to publish good, factually complete stories, so I call on them to issue a correction to Frank’s story.
Of course, as a matter of policy, it should matter not at all whether an IUD can act to prevent the implantation of a zygote. Women have a moral right to use the birth control methods of their choice and to seek an abortion if they wish to do so. A zygote is not a “person” and does not have rights. Frank does helpfully report that Beauprez said “in an interview after the debate” that “the use of IUDs [is] a ‘personal choice.'” Indeed it is—and it should continue to be.
You want to talk about a “war” on certain segments of voters?
I am not among those who think the “Republican War on Women” is entirely a Democratic fabrication; the existence of the “personhood for zygotes” measure on Colorado’s ballot this year (again) is evidence that such a war exists (using the term “war” metaphorically, of course).
But the Democrats have waged their own wars on other blocks of citizens—and those are the wars driving the 2014 elections. Mainly, these are the war on gun owners, the war on energy producers and consumers, the war on doctors and patients, and the war on taxpayers. At the national level, you can add Obama’s war on self-respecting and security-conscious Americans—he has almost single-handedly turned the United States into an object of ridicule among Islamic jihadists and Communist throwbacks around the world—and Obama’s late-term malaise will almost certainly impact numerous state and local elections.
Here in Colorado, I will never forgive Mark Udall (aka Marack Obama Udall) for supporting ObamaCare and for throttling the Keystone Pipeline (an indicator of his general hostility toward fossil-fuel energy producers).
I will never forgive John “What the F**k” Hickenlooper (aka Michael Bloomberg) for supporting the idiotically drafted, rights-violating gun-restriction laws.
I will never forgive Colorado’s Democratic legislators for passing the so-called “Amazon tax” pertaining to online sales—a measure that Hickenlooper defended—and other tax measures. (Yes, I have a long memory on that one. These are just a few indications of the types of issues bothering me.)
I am seeing red this year—and so are a lot of other voters. Obviously Colorado’s Democrats had no idea how deeply they would anger large blocks of voters by pursuing their leftist policies.
I was frankly surprised—although not as surprised as the Democrats were—that the gun-driven recall elections resulted in three turnovers in the legislature. Remember, those were the first recalls in the state’s history.
I was even more surprised to see Quinnipiac polls showing Bob Beauprez up ten points over Hickenlooper and Cory Gardner up eight points over Udall. I don’t know polling well enough to know which polls to trust and which to distrust, but for the Republicans even to be at a dead heat against the incumbents—as other polls indicate may be the case—is remarkable. Just three months ago I predicted that Hickenlooper would easily best Beauprez.
This year, as is the case every year, many outcomes will hinge on voter turnout. In recent election cycles Democrats floated on the Obama Bubble, but now that bubble has burst. Younger voters, I think, are starting to figure out that maybe “hope and change” depends on something more substantial than velvety rhetoric, that maybe we don’t want government continually spying on us (Udall’s work in this area is his main redeeming virtue), and that maybe a Kumbaya foreign policy doesn’t work when the other guy wants to cut your head off. Meanwhile, a variety of indicators, including the recalls and the recent polls, indicate that the right may be especially motivated this year. I for one am spitting mad.
I’ve long described my attitude toward Colorado politics this way: “Which party do I hate the most? It depends on which one I’m thinking of at the moment.” Recently Democrats have given me plenty of reasons to think about them, and, surprisingly, Republicans haven’t.
Both Beauprez and Gardner have more-or-less successfully defused the “war on women” bomb, mainly by running as fast as they can away from the so-called “personhood” measure. I was pleasantly surprised to read these recent remarks from Beaupurez: “Nobody’s taking that [the right to get an abortion] away—that’s a false argument. That’s the law of the land. Some like me are personally pro-life, but I’m not going to deny what the law provides you.” (For once Beauprez’s tendency to “squish” is working to his advantage.) And of course Gardner came out with a proposal to legalize over-the-counter birth control—which is not only the right position policy-wise but a genius political move. Although Gardner is a cosponsor of a national “personhood” proposal, it’s hard to believe he takes that too seriously given his other proposal.
Although I reserve the right to change my mind and to make some exceptions, my default stance toward this year’s election is “vote straight Republican.” I even had a sign made up: “Dems BLEW It: This Year Vote Republican.” (Attention CEW: I did not spend over $200 on this sign, and I did not coordinate with others about it, so you can keep your attack dogs on their leashes.) At first I considered having it read, “In 2014 Vote Republican”—but then I thought I might need to use it again sometime down the road.
I end with a special plea directed at Colorado Republicans. If you do manage to pull off some electoral successes this year, please don’t screw everything up the way you almost always do. Don’t make me replace this year’s sign with one stating: “GOP BLEW It: This Year Vote Democrat.” But if I have to I’ll just get both signs and keep alternating them. Such is nature of Colorado politics.
Justin Amash, Congressman from Michigan, handily beat his primary opponent Brian Ellis. So who is Amash? You can get a feel for him by watching his victory speech (posted at the Blaze). Here are a few excerpts:
- “People want us to stand up for liberty, the Constitution, and economic freedom.”
- “I want to say to lobbyist Pete Hoekstra [who supported Ellis]: You’re a disgrace, and I’m glad we could hand you one more loss before you fade into total obscurity and irrelevance.”
- “To Brian Ellis, you owe my family and this community an apology, for your disgusting, despicable smear campaign.”
- “I’m proud to stand up for the American people. And I’m going to go back to Washington, and I’m going to continue to fight for liberty, for the Constitution, and for you.”
One extraordinary thing about Amash is that, not only does he participate in every vote, but he explains his every vote on his Facebook page.
I have two open questions about the “libertarian-minded” Amesh: First, does he support strong national defense, or does he follow Ron Paul’s blame-America-first line? Second, does he want government to outlaw abortion? On this latter point, it’s interesting to note that, although Amash claims to be “100 percent pro-life,” Michigan Right to Life endorsed Ellis, partly on the grounds that Amash declined single out Planned Parenthood for defunding, as MLive reports.
Two things seem clear. Amash is serious about advocating economic liberty. And, whatever his possible shortcomings, he is a man to watch.
Frankly I’d never heard of Senator Pat Roberts, but I had heard of his challenger, Milton Wolf, because Wolf frequently writes about health policy and related matters (see his op-eds for the Washington Times). So I was interested to learn that Wolf was running for U.S. Senate, because I agreed with various articles he’d written.
On Tuesday, Wolf lost the primary to Roberts, as MSNBC reports. As Politico explains it, Roberts won through a combination of hard work, party support, and (of course) incumbency. Then there’s this: “Roberts . . . trained the spotlight on an embarrassing professional scandal. . . . Wolf was discovered to have posted patient X-rays on Facebook, sometimes accompanied by morbid jokes.” (I’m not sure any radiologist’s campaign could survive similar scrutiny.) Still, Wolf did relatively well, earning over 40 percent of the vote.
The three successful recall efforts in Colorado politics this year are unprecedented. On September 10, voters recalled Democratic state senators John Morse and Angela Giron and replaced them with Republicans. On November 27, the third target of a recall election—my state senator Evie Hudak—resigned rather than face the voters and risk the Democrats’ advantage in the state senate. (With Hudak’s resignation, a vacancy committee will replace Hudak with another Democrat, maintaining the party’s 18-17 member advantage.)
In an article for Complete Colorado, I point out the absurdity of Hudak’s supporters claiming that the recallers—the very people engaged in democratic action to gather signatures and seek a recall vote—are somehow undemocratic. I note, “Although lawful, Hudak’s decision to resign replaces a democratic recall election with a profoundly anti-democratic decision by party elite.” Read the entire article.
There is more to say, however, about why it’s a wonderful thing that Hudak is no longer my state senator—even though she has denied me a voice in choosing her replacement. Here are my top six reasons.
1. Hudak supported the rights-violating, badly drafted anti-gun legislation heavily promoted in the state by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Obama administration.
2. Hudak heartlessly insulted a rape victim on the floor of the state senate—while invoking bogus statistics to browbeat the poor lady.
3. Hudak suggested that another legislator should “flip a coin” to decide a vote. State Senator Owen Hill asked Hudak, “How can I vote on it if we can’t have a little bit more discussion?” She replied, “Take your best shot… Here’s a coin you can flip.” Hill sensibly responded, “I didn’t knock on 20,000 doors so I could flip a coin.”
4. Hudak supported the Amendment 66 tax-hike proposal, a measure that voters thankfully rejected by wide margins.
5. During important legislative hearings, Hudak spent her time on social media.
6. Hudak’s supporters distributed a nasty, misleading flyer in an attempt to suppress the democratic recall effort, and, to my knowledge, Hudak did not condemn the flyer or those responsible for it.
Hudak was arguably the least competent legislator in Colorado. I for one rejoice that she’s out of office.
On September 10, voters in Colorado recalled two state senators, John Morse and Angela Giron. The next day, I Tweeted, “The reason Dems hate Constitutional recalls in CO: Recalls favor those with deep convictions over those with shallow, transitory opinions.” My suggestion was met a quick rebuke from someone I know and respect, who called my claim “intellectually dishonest” and “vapid.” But, as I replied at the time, “Clearly recalls favor the most committed voters.” And even various Democrats admit as much.
I wrote up a much longer version of my argument, and Complete Colorado published the resulting article on September 18. I argue that Democrats didn’t criticize the recalls merely as a matter of partisan cheerleading or because recalls are somehow an “abuse of the political process.” Instead, I argue,
The reason Democrats dislike recall elections—particularly when they involve a clash over guns—is that fewer people tend to vote in them. Thus, recall elections tend to favor voters with deeply held beliefs and strong political commitments—the type of voters who will go out of their way to participate in an election on an unusual day involving a single race.
Along the way, I show that the recalls involved no “voter suppression.” (I had also Tweeted that, to today’s Democrats, “voter suppression” seems to mean “That nefarious force always and everywhere at work whenever Democrats lose.”)