Live and Let Live
In my experience, most people want to live their lives and let other people live theirs. They are focused on work, family, sports, leisure activities and other priorities in their lives. To the extent they pay attention to politics, it is through watching the evening news or reading the local paper. When it comes to elections, they vote based on what they read in the blue book or the advice of friends and family. They expect winners to obey the rules and the losers to concede graciously. Many people say “I’m not interested in politics” – an attitude I find quite dangerous.
Because we are living in dangerous times. There is a movement in the United States and the world at large called “progressivism”. This ideology has socialist theory as its underpinning, wild, unrealistic goals as its agenda, with children and septuagenarians as its idols and thought leaders. These people are NOT content to “live and let live”. They actually believe that they know what is best for society and – by extension – YOU, your children, your business, your community, your state and your nation.
Modern American progressivism has its roots in the shattered nation that emerged from the Civil War and Reconstruction in the late 19th century. Early progressives believed in science and education, and they believed that the best people to run society were not our elected officials, but trained and educated administrators. It is this belief that gave rise to the modern administrative/regulatory state we have today.
Early progressives were believers in racial differences, eugenics, and other now discredited social theories. The progressives of the 1920s and 1930s were enthusiastic supporters of the Soviet Union, let by Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin; fascist Italy, led by socialist Benito Mussolini, and National Socialist Germany, led by Adolf Hitler. Even today, we can find apologists for communist dictators ranging from Stalin to Fidel Castro. Progressives believe in the State as Christians and Jews believe in God, and they favor Force over Freedom.
Progressives are not content to let elected officials represent all the interests of their constituents. They demand and expect elected officials to advance THEIR agenda, and when they do not, they work to get others elected in their place. If they are in the minority in a chamber, say the Colorado state senate, they will use any means, fair or foul, to get a majority.
Most people after an election where their candidate or issue lost will shrug their shoulders and get on with their lives. Not so with the progressives. When their candidates lose, they refuse to concede. They take the election results to court. Their supporters demand recounts, impeachments and vow to “resist”. They wail and complain about sexism, racism, misogyny, “white privilege”, and every other baseless accusation they can think of.
And then they plot their next path to power. They build an infrastructure of organizations that have the combined goals of getting progressives elected to public office and enacting the progressive agenda, even though this agenda is a direct affront to constitutional, limited government.
The Progressive Advantage Writ Large
I wrote about how this operates in Colorado in my blog post The Progressive Advantage. To quote from that post, the Progressive Infrastructure in Colorado includes several organizations, many of them 501(c)(3)s, to perform the following functions:
- Fundraising and moving dark money. A recent example of this is the Issue Committee formed to support Proposition CC, which reported $4.3 million in donations, including about 41% from out of state progressive organizations and one business – Lyft.
- Rabble-rousing, silencing the opposition and boots on the ground activism.
- Think tanks to provide intellectual support and move the Overton Window.
- Organizations to recruit and train progressive candidates (women only).
- Organization register voters and get out the vote, including ballot harvesting.
- Organizations to promote their various policy goals with regard to taxation, the environment, social programs, income redistribution and the like.
This coming year, I expect to see the Bell Policy Center lead an effort to get an initiative to re-impose a “progressive” (i.e. tiered) income tax rate structure on the ballot. They pretend to be in favor of “economic mobility”, yet they want everyone in the state to pay more in taxes to fund a bigger government.
I also expect the Colorado Fiscal Institute to work on bringing a ballot measure to repeal our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) entirely. Over the summer, I wrote four blog posts about why TABOR matters, why budgets matter, the proper role of government and the nature of taxation and wealth. In all four, I believe I have made a strong case for the preservation of TABOR and illustrated how having a low, flat tax rate is actually a benefit to all Coloradans.
When I wrote about the Progressive Advantage, I was only looking at the tip of the iceberg here in Colorado. Over the summer I attended a lecture by Bill Meierling from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is “America’s largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism”.
In this presentation, Mr. Meierling reviewed the history of the Democracy Alliance and how Colorado turned blue (as described in The Blueprint). This slide from his presentation shows why the Left views control of government as so important.
To them, it’s not about “service”, it’s about power and control.
Groups like the Democracy Alliance are targeting what they consider to be the “New American Majority”, which comprises 58% of the population and consists of young, unmarried women, multicultural groups, immigrants and union members.
As the below graphic shows, these groups, all under the umbrella of the Democracy Alliance, work together to promote the progressive agenda.
As we know, the Left owns the mainstream media, and Media Matters for America directs the media message, disseminating it out through American Bridge to the mainstream media and various leftist publications and websites including The Guardian, Daily Kos, Huffington Post, and others.
The Democracy Alliance seeds and supports various progressive organizations including the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), Common Cause, ProgressNow and its offshoots.
The third leg of the organizational tripod consists of a collection of hedge funds that channel millions of dollars in dark money through the network and engage in shareholder activism. They are the people behind all of the proxy vote items relating to executive compensation, board representation, climate change, “equal pay”, “diversity”, and others. As we’ll see later, the non-profit sector is a huge part of the progressive infrastructure.
The Democratic Party and its candidates are the beneficiaries of all this.
In Colorado, we saw their strategies come to fruition in the disastrous 2018 election, when the Democrats took full control of the state government, installing an even more progressive governor in Jared Polis, flipping the state senate and increasing their overwhelming majority in the state house. And, true to their word and their platform, they worked very hard on implementing their progressive agenda, passing a red flag law, limitations on the oil and gas industry, a horrible sex-ed bill, as well as the bill to destroy the Electoral College which essentially gives our presidential votes to California.
All of this leads to what the Democrats and the “resistance” are doing on the national level. It’s nothing less than a power grab, and it’s real. Progressives are working to undermine the very foundation of our constitutional republic.
Speaking of a power grab, this is the title of the most recent book by Jason Chaffetz, formerly a United States Representative from Utah’s 3rd congressional district who served from 2009 until he retired in 2017. During his tenure, he chaired the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. In Power Grab: The Liberal Scheme to Undermine Trump, the GOP and Our Republic, Chaffetz describes how the Left in our country have monetized anger and weaponized public charities to fund their dark money network to claw their way into power in state legislatures and the United States Congress.
In the introduction to the book, he describes his last town hall meeting in his district. In a story that should be shockingly familiar to anyone who’s attended town halls by Republican representatives (like former Representative Mike Coffman and Senator Cory Gardner) he talks about how leftist groups led by Utah Indivisible enlisted people to attend and disrupt the event, using the “Indivisible Guide”. From the book:
“Inside, as the meeting began, things were less settled. We kicked things off in the usual manner but to a much different response. As instructed by organizers, the audience attempted to shout me down on every question. Thanks to the [Indivisible Guide] manual, we knew ahead of time how the organizers had instructed attendees to take control of the meeting and prevent me from answering questions, to disrupt the dialogue and incite an incident. Everything about the opposition was calculated. They were specifically instructed to spread out among the seats to create the illusion of consensus. The Indivisible Guide reads, “Do not all sit together. Sit by yourself or in groups of 2, and spread out throughout the room. This will help reinforce the impression of broad consensus.” They even orchestrated the applause. The guide reads, “After one member of your group asks a question, everyone should applaud to show that the feeling is shared throughout the audience. Whenever someone from your group gets the mic, they should note that they’re building on the previous questions—amplifying the fact that you’re part of a broad group.” Who were they trying to deceive with this performance? These strategies are designed to create an illusion of unanimity. Who were they trying to persuade? The audience was filled with like-minded people. The crowd would have been content to drown me out all night. I was not their target audience. So, who was? The Indivisible Guide offers this advice: record everything. “. . . unfavorable exchanges caught on video can be devastating for MoCs [Members of Congress]. These clips can be shared through social media and picked up by local and national media.” There is the answer. The whole thing was intended to be political theater for a national news audience. It was a show—a highly choreographed, carefully orchestrated, nationally directed pageant for coastal elites to feast upon, comfort for the broken souls of the progressive left. Both in and outside the venue, people were supporting extreme left-wing positions that actual Utah 3rd Congressional District voters resoundingly rejected by large majorities.” [Emphasis mine] Chaffetz, Jason. Power Grab (pp. 8-9). Broadside e-books. Kindle Edition.
In the first chapter titled “Monetizing Anger” he describes how the progressive-dominated nonprofit sector is helping Democrats “swing the results of elections”. Again quoting from the book:
“With no limits on donations, no disclosure of who is donating, no means of discerning whether foreign governments are participating, and with minimal oversight, a growing list of political nonprofit advocacy groups operate freely and openly in the partisan political space. The last two election cycles have shown that the impact of nonprofit engagement in our political process has been profound. And it is growing, fueled by the tsunami of rage donations that have energized Democratic campaigns in the wake of the Trump presidency. The same kind of energy might have propelled more significant fund-raising gains on the right in the heady days of the 2009 Tea Party movement had conservatives been able to access the kind of nonprofit infrastructure available to progressives. But many of the groups purporting to lead the Tea Party movement were formed after the fact and missed the big opportunities of the nascent movement’s early days. They were not established nonprofits with large endowment funds, high name recognition, or extensive databases of supporters and volunteers. Furthermore, as Tea Party groups began cropping up around the country from 2009 to 2012, many had difficulty getting up and running in the face of unexplained IRS delays approving their applications for nonprofit status. By contrast, the Trump Bump came at a time when the nonprofit world was already dominated by established left-leaning organizations, many of which control multimillion-dollar endowments, enjoy steady revenue from government contracts, and have a long history of political activism.” Chaffetz, Jason. Power Grab (p. 21). Broadside e-books. Kindle Edition.
Chaffetz goes on to describe some of the things he learned while a member of the House Committee on oversight, including the fact that many progressive nonprofits receive taxpayer funds from the federal government, and how some of the most successful nonprofits have refocused from their original intent to now fund and promote progressive politics. He cites examples including Planned Parenthood, ACORN, the Southern Poverty Law Center and others.
Nonprofits that favor progressive groups and organizations far outnumber conservative nonprofits. They have very loose restrictions on who can donate, and charities can take money from sources political campaigns cannot, including corporations and foreign citizens and governments. Advocacy organizations, classified as 501(c)(4)s, are not allowed to offer tax deductions to donors, have no restrictions on who can donate or how much, and they are not required to disclose their donors.
The second chapter, called “Weaponizing Charities” develops this theme further, talking about how public charities have become a powerful tool in the progressive toolbox. He also describes a for-profit company called Grassroots Campaigns Inc. Because they are a business, they have no restrictions on political activity and their goal is “…building support for progressive candidates, parties and causes through engaging everyday people in political action.” They help raise money for progressive candidates and they recruit volunteers to work on their behalf as well. They work to register voters and were active in get-out-the-vote efforts in western swing states including Nevada and Colorado in the 2012 election. A partial list of their clients includes:
- America Votes
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Amnesty International USA
- Center for American Progress
- Colorado Democratic Party
- Common Cause
- Democratic National Committee
- Everytown for Gun Safety
- Media Matters
- People for the American Way
- Southern Poverty Law Center
They help with small donor fundraising and provide these services to progressive candidates:
- Paid Voter Contact and get-out-the-vote (GOTV)
- Volunteer Voter Contact and GOTV
- Voter Registration
- Volunteer Recruitment and Organizing
- Phone Services
In the remaining chapters, Chaffetz discusses how the Left are “The Real Authoritarians”, how they create false narratives, and have weaponized the federal government and the Congress against Republicans.
What’s worse is that they are trying to change the rules as well. The very first bill under the newly elected Democrat majority in 2019 was H.R. 1, 2019, the “For The People Act”, which Chaffetz describes in great detail in Chapter Six. I recommend reading the book for this chapter alone.
Another way in which the Left is trying to subvert the Constitution and do away with the Electoral College. This is why it will be so important for Colorado voters to vote next year on the referendum to repeal the National Popular Vote bill (SB 19-042) passed earlier this year.
It’s All About Power
Everything the Left does is about accumulating, expanding, preserving and exercising power. That is why the rest of us need to wake up and understand what is arrayed against us and how we can fight back to preserve our liberty. We need to develop and support conservative nonprofits. We need to get more engaged and active. While we just want to live our lives and be left alone, the Left has an army of people who will show up to protests and rallies, write letters, post on social media, flood townhalls and city council meetings to shout elected officials down, write letters to the editor, and more.
We who love liberty, freedom and the constitutional republic our Founders left us must stand fast and say NO. No to bigger government. No to new and higher taxes, “premiums” and “fees”. No to more and bigger government programs, even ones we may personally benefit from. No to using tax policy to incentivize behaviors. No to attempts to overturn our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. No to “progressive” tax policy.
Join me in this fight. Colorado and America are worth fighting for.