Saturday, November 12, 2011

Response to Colorado Springs Gazette's Editorial on Resistance to Republican Fundraising Gala

Today’s Colorado Springs Gazette had an article, authored by its editorial page editor, Wayne Laugesen in the “Our View” section, entitled GROVER NORQUIST IS NOT A JIHADIST,  in which he directly calls out Senator Lambert and me as promoting a boycott of tonight’s El Paso County Republican fundraising Gala and implying that we are extremists within the Party.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Both Sen. Lambert and I strongly support the Republican Party, and in particular, the El Paso County Republican Party, but only insofar as its leadership adheres to and supports the core Principles of the Party to which we have both worked so hard for more than 15 years (cumulatively)  to promote and defend.  That said, we are very troubled by the direction that the EPCRP has moved since its Chairman Eli Bremer was marginally elected by the Republican Central Committee, as its Chairman earlier this year.  Since then, true conservatives, including TeaPartiers/912ers and other similar groups have been made to feel marginalized by a chairman who exhibits more interest in being big-tent driven than Principle driven. 

Over the recent decades, the Republican Party elites have drifted further and further from strong advocacy of Republican Principles of Limited Government, Free Enterprise, etc., in their vain quest for greater numbers.  Ironically, this drift has significantly reduced the enthusiasm as well as the fundraising ability of the Party.  Countering that has been the dramatic rise in the number of Liberty Groups across the country and within Colorado spurred on by the outrage of many conservatives who have either left the Republican Party mentally or through change in Party registration and have determined to work outside the Party structure, to support only conservative candidates and to challenge non-principle-driven “republicans” in future Primaries with conservative candidates. 

Most Republican elites do not understand that a battle is raging for the heart and soul of the Republican Party nationally and locally in an effort to bring the Party back to its Principles.  I believe this battle is necessary, unfortunately, to bring our Party back to its roots.  Unfortunately, too many Party leaders believe that strong adherence to Principle is counterproductive to the goal of winning elections.  In my view, and that of the Liberty groups, nothing could be further from the truth.  A Party that puts Principle on the back burner in order to win elections is tacitly conveying that the Party’s Principles are not valid or at least not valid for everyone…that we need to pander to special interest groups to gain their support.  Such a view undermines the Republican image and eventually leads to a Party that appears to stand for nothing.   Most conservatives would not say that the Republican Party “stands for nothing,” but over the past decades has been moving fast in that direction, as it seems unconcerned with vetting Precinct Leaders, Division Leaders or Republican Candidates for City, County, State or Federal political offices.  “Warm bodies may apply.” One only has to look at the Colorado Union of Taxpayers’ annual scorecard to identify “republicans” who too often ignore, among others, the Party’s limited government and free-market principles.  Chief among those low-scoring Republicans last session were the House’s Speaker and Majority Leader, with scores of 39% and 50% respectively.  This is what we call leadership?

Instead of initiating attempts to bring the Party back to adherence to its Principle, the Party’s leadership attempts to marginalize them as “extremists”, “dividers,” and “trouble-makers” and remove them from influence.  Such has been the case with all the Liberty groups as well as certain individuals, including Sen. Lambert and me.   Today’s Gazette’s editorial states the fact that the El Paso Republican vote is key to winning the state for the next Republican President.  Indeed, that is true,, but where Wayne Laugesen, in his editorial goes wrong is by implying that the difficulty with achieving that goal lies with the those who are attempting to call the party back to its Principles, rather than challenging the Party’s leadership to urge for adherence to them by all candidates and to do so at all political functions between now and the election.  Failure to move in this direction will continue to alienate those in the growing Liberty movement.  Should this lead to a poor showing for Republican candidates, that failure will rest on the shoulders of the Party’s leadership and not the conservative grass-roots.  Criticizing those who truly believe in conservative Principles will only be counter-productive to that effort and any loss will rest on their shoulders.  

Attempting to silence, ignore or marginalize those attempting to identify poor judgment by Republican leadership should not be ignored.  Inviting a speaker with dangerous alliances to a Republican fundraising gala is one of those troubling decisions.  When confronting Mr. Bremer on Thursday evening’s radio program, KLZ560am… “the Source”, Frank Gaffney, after submitting several troubling examples of Grover Norquist’s alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood, offered to come to El Paso County to discuss the matter in person and to show him the facts.  You can hear that broadcast here.  Eli Bremer didn’t accept that offer.  One only can wonder “why.?”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Republicans Must Embrace Liberty Message

by Rich Bratten, Executive Director, Republican Study Committee of Colorado

 There are some core principles that unify many of the various “grass roots” groups (TEA Party, 9/12, Liberty, Gadsden, Libertarian, etc.), which I submit would include 1) a commitment to a limited, Constitutional role for government that, 2) protects individual liberty and encourages personal responsibility, 3) a commitment to a free market economy that is not strangled by government regulation or distorted by government intervention, and 4) fiscal responsibility in the fulfillment of government’s limited role. Interestingly, these are some of the principles of the Republican Party as well. This is why all of these groups should be able to find common ground in these areas.
One of the biggest problems that we face today as a state, and as a nation, is that many in the Republican Party either do not truly understand these principles, resulting in the ever-increasing misapplication of government, or else they are willing to forgo them for political gain.
While the tag-line of both political parties today is “jobs, jobs, jobs”, the reality is that not only is this not the role of Colorado government (a word search of the Colorado Constitution confirms that job creation is nowhere to be found), but government, in general, is not designed for, nor is it compete
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nt at, “creating jobs.” While our state government could help create an environment that is more conducive to job creation by lowering the regulatory and tax burden on the private sector, protecting personal liberty and property rights, and establishing the fiscal, judicial and statutory stability that businesses need in order to be able to make plans for the future so that capital will be attracted toward investment here, our government does not “create jobs.”
Government interventionist policies disrupt free markets by distorting the signaling mechanism known as “price” so as to create what is commonly called malinvestment – a concept developed in the Austrian school of economic thought (Von Mises, Hayek, etc.) One need look no further than the housing boom and bust that we have recently experienced to see an example of how government and regulatory intervention (in the form of artificially low interest rates, socially driven housing policy, and tax incentives) created malinvestment by propping up something to be more valuable than it really is.
Our political representatives may be well acquainted with the politics of “job creation”, but they seem to be quite behind the curve when it comes to the meaning of a “free market economy” and the role of government. Government intervention in the market for the well intentioned benefit of the common good by allegedly “creating jobs” is misguided at best, and destructive in the end.
What’s even worse, and more insidious, is the path that this mindset of government economic intervention leads us upon. Friedrich A. Hayek wrote, “That the government which claims to plan economic life soon asserts its totalitarian character is no accident — it can do nothing less if it wants to remain true to the intention of planning. Economic life is not a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the administration of the means for all our different ends. Whoever takes charge of these means must determine which ends shall be served; which values are to be rated higher and which lower — in short, what men should believe and strive for.” [“What Price a Planned Economy?”]
This is not an exaggerated concern. Today’s version of statist policy clothes itself with a combination of euphemistic public policy goals. Especially prevalent is the go-to statist formula of “environmentalism” + “job creation” = “green economy.”
Want to score some political points? Simply create a government intervention into the free markets to “incentivize” some portion of the “green economy”. Throw in some funding by “gifts, grants and donations,” perhaps a little TIF (Tax Incremental Financing, which allows government to issue debt to be repaid by the future anticipated tax revenue increases expected to be brought about by their latest intervention), toss some direct tax-incentives to specific industries to encourage participation, and then of course, liberally apply for “federal money” because it’s just sitting there waiting to be spent and if we don’t do it someone else will, and voila – you have just done something noble and beneficial for everyone by helping the environment and creating jobs (not).
Now, if you’re a Democrat and you just read that last paragraph thinking, “sounds good,” that’s to be expected. A true classical education, complete with critical thinking, will be required. If you’re a Republican and you think that this sounds good, you need intervention. This is the type of Republican (non) thinking that has spawned the current liberty movement!
Republicans must wake up to the principles that are woven through the various patches of fabric that make up today’s liberty movement. Republicans must awaken their commitment to a limited, Constitutional role for government that protects individual liberty and encourages personal responsibility. Republicans must maintain a commitment to a free market economy that is not strangled by government regulation or distorted by government intervention. And Republicans must be committed to fiscal responsibility in the fulfillment of government’s limited role. Anything less would deny the message of today’s liberty movement.