On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. When he was elected two months earlier, the media and the Democrats (but I repeat myself) spun up the outrage machine. On Inauguration Day they turned the noise up to 11 and it stayed there for four years.
Last summer, against the backdrop of an African American man dying in police custody in a Democrat-run city and state, cities across America erupted into rioting, violence and lawlessness. In Democrat-run cities and states, the violence and lawlessness went on for months. In Colorado, nightly riots in downtown Denver and in the vicinity of the state capitol resulted in that building – for which I have no love – being defiled with vile graffiti and heavily damaged.
Lest we forget, the image below captures the essence of the leftist mob that was unleashed and encouraged by the Democrats running the city and state. I thought it presented a stark visual reminder of the choices voters faced in the coming November election.
Since the inauguration of Joe “The Big Guy” Biden (D) earlier this year, the media has reverted to the usual sycophancy they’ve exhibited when a Democrat sits in the White House. All the failures – and there have been many, with more to come – of his Democrat-run regime have been ignored by the mainstream media while they continue to foment fear of the virus, dismiss election integrity concerns as right-wing paranoia, and heap abuse on the conservative elected officials they love to hate.
On a national level, the failures of Democratic misgovernance are manifest. One of the most obvious and talked about is gasoline prices. According to eia.gov, the average weekly U.S. midgrade (the kind I buy for my car) price on August 10, 2020 was $2.78/gallon. On August 9, 2021 it was $3.84/gallon, an increase of almost 40%. In green California – a state which REALLY hates fossil fuels – a gallon of gas costs $4.47. (Of course, in Texas it’s only $3.11/gallon).
Gas prices are getting so bad, Joe “The Big Guy” Biden (D) has asked OPEC to increase production. Instead of celebrating the energy independence achieved by America’s oil and gas industry in recent years, Joe wants to regress to the 1970s, when we were highly dependent on foreign oil and at the mercy of tyrants who hate us. The irony is staggering – but it’s to be expected with leftist cognitive dissonance on energy policy.
The hostility to our oil and gas industry doesn’t end there. From cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline (and thousands of blue-collar jobs) to increased regulation, the climate change fearing Left is doing everything it can to hamper and harass the industry they hate.
Looking to the border and what’s on the other side, for years the Left excoriated the Trump administration for the border crisis they themselves fomented, with “kids in cages” and other propaganda. Never mind that the “kids in cages” predated the Trump administration and continues to this day. Never mind that the Democrats in charge created the human catastrophe at the border for their own perceived political gain.
In foreign policy, one blunder after another has led to the current debacle in Afghanistan – by pulling American troops out, he has ceded control of that unfortunate slice of the planet to the Taliban, the very same terrorists who we wrested the country from 20 years ago. One could have a lively debate as to exactly what US policy toward Afghanistan should be, but the cost in lives and treasure has been staggering – over $2 trillion and thousands of US military service members. Does pulling out of Afghanistan honor their service and sacrifice, or does it disrespect it? I think history will show the Afghanistan debacle to be just the beginning of Biden’s legacy of defeat and failure.
Biden is weak on China – a rising threat – and Russia, a recurring threat. He has shown weakness regarding Iran, by pandering to the mullahs trying to revive the bad Iran Nuclear Deal.
By rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, he has committed to putting shackles on our economy, while emerging countries like China and India get a free pass to grow their carbon emissions.
I’m old enough to remember the economic malaise of the 1970s, when rampant inflation eroded the purchasing power of our money on an accelerating basis and when interest rates were so high that borrowing money for a house or a car was a very pricey proposition indeed. In 1980, just before President Ronald Reagan was sworn in, the prime interest rate stood at a record 21%.
Now, Joe Biden (D) wants to return America to the high tax days and undo the 40-year era of overall prosperity unleashed by President Reagan’s 1981 and 1986 tax cuts. As Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore wrote in the Wall Street Journal recently,
The U.S. economy was a wreck when Reagan took office, due to the combination of tax rates that rose to as high as 70% on some types of income and an inflation rate that hit 14% in 1980. The “misery index” (inflation plus unemployment) closed in on 22%, as a new gloomy term appeared in the economic lexicon: “stagflation.”
The Keynesian Democrats were out of ideas. The dean of liberal economists, Paul Samuelson, glumly advised that the only way to break the back of inflation was to tolerate another decade of very high unemployment. Reagan dismissed the austerity model and carried the banner of supply-side optimism. Borrowing from the young Rep. Jack Kemp, economists Robert Mundell and Mr. Laffer (one of the authors of this article) and these pages, Reagan persuaded Americans that the remedy to the decadelong malaise was to reduce the drag of regulatory and tax policy to encourage more work and production.
City and State Failures
As I pointed out in last year’s Unfit To Govern, we are fortunate in the United States to have 50 “laboratories of democracy” so that we can assess, in the real world, the results of various policies, laws and philosophies.
America’s major cities continue to be dominated by Democrats, and people continue to flee them. Of the top ten cities showing the highest population losses (according to the Brookings Institution), nine are governed by Democrats (and one Independent). People vote with their feet, and the data are clear: people don’t want to live in Democrat-run cities.
A 2016 editorial from Investor’s Business Daily sums it up quite well in speaking of Flint, Michigan after the drinking water crisis: “Don’t its decades of Democratic dominance deserve some of the blame? It’s the city’s “Democratic rulers…who have “robbed city residents blind to pad the pockets of public sector unions.” They’ve also been in charge as Flint has become one of the country’s poorest cities…and a haven for criminals – it’s the most dangerous city in America, according to Business Insider.
Flint is not alone, though. America is awash with troubled, dysfunctional cities that have been electing Democratic mayors for decades.” [Emphasis mine]
Reading this reminds me that the Democrats are now allowing Colorado state workers to unionize (padding the pockets of public sector unions) and that as my Twitter friend @GovtsTheProblem points out on a daily basis, crime in Denver is spiraling out of control. From The Denver Post on July 5, 2021: “Violence in Denver so far this year is on track to meet or exceed the bloodshed of 2020, when the city recorded the highest number of homicides since 1981.”
Due to the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of Colorado businesses closed their doors for good in just the second quarter of 2020 alone. One wonders how many businesses have closed due to higher “fees”, regulations, mandates and the looming family and medical leave implementation. As of July 2021, Colorado is in the lower half of the 50 states with 6.2% unemployment. (Of course, of the 10 states with the highest unemployment, 8 are run by Democrats, none by Republicans.)
On the state level, it’s even clearer. The annual economic outlook rankings by the American Legislative Exchange Council Center for State Fiscal Reform show that the top 10 states continue to be largely run by Republicans, and the bottom 10 states in terms of economic outlook continue to be run by Democrats. Interestingly, in 2019 blue Nevada ranked 5th but in 2021 has slipped to 7th. Purple Minnesota slipped from 41st in 2019 to 46th in 2021. And my native state of Colorado, under Democrat Party misgovernance, has slipped from 18th to 20th place, while my new state of residence, Oklahoma, is 3rd in the nation.
Disrespecting the Voters
Any discussion of Colorado Democrats and their “governance” would be incomplete without a review of how they exhibit contempt for any who disagree with them, from constituents who come to the capitol to be heard to the voters who clearly want some limits on government.
As someone who has gone to the capitol to testify, to listen and to talk to legislators, I can say that the power dynamics in that building are all wrong. For starters, legislators sit on a dais while citizens sit before them as supplicants. It should be the other way around: THEY work for US. They can eat and drink while citizens are barred from doing so.
The Democrats in charge schedule hearings on deeply important bills for inconvenient times then load the calendar with so many bills that it’s impossible to have an adequate hearing on any one thing. Late nights and even virtual all-nighters have become increasingly common as Democrats have deepened their control over the capitol. Requiring “panels” of witnesses instead of allowing a person to speak individually are routinely employed. In my experience, many people don’t bother to take the time from their day to go testify, because they know the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Or they can’t spend the night in the Capitol waiting to testify because they have to get up and go to work the next morning. They know the Democrats aren’t listening to us.
When it comes to energy and tax policy, their contempt for the voters is even clearer: what they fail to enact by legislation they try to enact via the ballot box (or vice versa), and sometimes, as with paid family and medical leave insurance, they succeed.
In 2018 the anti-modern-life crowd tried to fatally wound the Colorado oil and gas industry by putting Proposition 112 on the ballot. This initiative would have established minimum setbacks of 2,500 feet from occupied buildings or other “vulnerable” areas. According to one estimate, this would have made virtually the whole state of Colorado off-limits to oil and gas development. This measure failed by a margin of 55% to 45%. Despite this clear message from the voters, the next year the Colorado Democrats passed legislation – SB 19-181 – which accomplished virtually the same thing.
Thanks to the limitations of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), the legislature cannot directly raise taxes or impose new taxes without an affirmative vote of the people. In the 29 years since TABOR became part of the Colorado Constitution, the politicians have tried several times to raise and increase statewide taxes. With the exception of Propositions BB in 2016 to keep excess marijuana taxes for education and EE in 2020 to increase the tax on nicotine liquids and vaping products, Colorado voters have consistently said “No” to higher taxes. In fact, in 2020 the voters voted to reduce the state income tax.
Because of the limitations of TABOR, Democrat politicians have had to come up with
increasingly inventive ways to take money from citizens by force. Exploiting a loophole in TABOR regarding government “enterprises” Democrats discovered that if they called a government program an “enterprise”, they could charge “fees” for it. Or, in the case of paid family and medical leave (FAMLI), “premiums”. To close this loophole, in 2020 the voters passed Proposition 117, which calls for voter approval of any new government “enterprise” which is supposed to raise more than $100 million in the first five years of its existence.
Completely disregarding these messages from the voters, in 2021 Colorado Democrats went ahead and raised fees and imposed new fees anyway. According to cpr.org, “Political observers have watched with amazement as Democrats have wholeheartedly embraced new ways to raise money. It adds up, in all, to more than $20 billion over the next decade for various state services…enacted without voter approval.”
They Don’t Care
Democrats don’t care what you think. They don’t care who their programs hurt – be it the lower income family struggling to make ends meet who now has to pay higher taxes and “fees” or the small business owner trying to earn a living after paying the government an ever-increasing bite of their revenues (assuming they can stay in business at all).
When you go to testify at the Capitol, they don’t care what you have to say and they’ll make it as inconvenient as it possibly can be for you to say it.
I’ll never forget the day in 2013 when I went to hear testimony against Rhonda Fields’ (D-Aurora) magazine ban. The room was overflowing and at the end of the hearings, the chair of the committee (disgraced former representative Dan Kagan (D-Cherry Hills) asked for everyone who opposed the bill to stand. All but two or three people in the crowded room stood and the looks of surprise on the faces of Representatives Fields and McCann (now Denver’s criminal coddling District Attorney) were priceless.
No, the only thing Democrats care about is power, and the only way to reign them in is to remove them from power. Vote them out. Vote them all out, in 2022 and especially in 2024. Vote like your life depends on it, because your livelihood certainly does.