Sure, there are people who there who claim that your hosts harbor a bias this way or that way on the political figures we discuss and the issues of the day. And to the extent that we are not and have never once claimed to be impartial journalists, or anything other than the shadowy cabal of blogger pundits that we are, we’re not losing a lot of sleep over this.
Because we suppose we do have a bias: against rank stupidity, and nonsensical, irresponsible blatherings from persons of all political stripes. Today’s prime example does happen to be a Republican, and he does happen to be shoveling pure nonsense, and it does happen to be the kind of nonsense you’d expect from, well, a Republican given its ideological bent. Those are facts beyond our control, as the Durango Herald’s editorial board picks up the story:
State Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, wants to replace Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, as this district’s next U.S. congressman. Fair enough. That is how the system works, and without good people to step up and run for office, democracy cannot function.
As for elections setting a course for the country, however, the process works better if candidates keep their campaign promises and policy positions somewhere near reality. And offering to cut the federal budget by 50 percent does not qualify.
Nonetheless the Tipton campaign sent out a news release Tuesday promising to do just that. Nor is there any confusion as to his meaning. In the announcement, Tipton said he has a “vision for a federal government that is half the size and cost that it is today. Half as expensive as it is today. Half as many programs. Half everything!” [Pols emphasis]
That’s right, folks. State Rep. Scott Tipton, considered the frontrunner for the GOP nomination for Rep. John Salazar’s CD-3 seat in Congress–a seat prominently “targeted” by national Republicans as a pickup opportunity–proposes we just…cut. The federal government. “By half.”
So what (the hell) would that actually mean, asks the Herald?
Does Tipton want to stand up in Cortez and advocate closing Mesa Verde half the year? What other federal spending in the 3rd Congressional District would he eliminate? And how many jobs would he be willing to see go away?
Better yet, how would you like to be a fly on the wall when he tells a group of Blue Star Moms that their children, now serving in the armed forces, are going to get their pay, their pension and their government-supplied health care cut in half? That is in addition to getting only half the equipment, ammunition, training, fuel or even food they have now.
Even more interesting might be listening to the explanation at the local senior center about how spending on Social Security and Medicare also are going to be cut by half…
Gosh, and it sounded so good in that press release, so simple and neat, until you actually think about it, Mr. and Mrs. Low-Information Voter. Then, somewhere in the pit of your stomach, it hits them: this is completely crazy! Who out there really thinks a majority of CD-3 voters will get to November, all the way into the voting booth, without ever realizing how ridiculous, simplistic, and unworkable Tipton’s proposal to “cut the government in half” is?
And here’s the thing: Tipton is not the only “mainstream” Republican candidate in Colorado who has seemingly made it his mission to out-crazy all potential opponents.
Senate candidate Jane Norton’s strange statements about Obama and terrorism, and call to eliminate the federal Department of Education, Scott McInnis’ call to eliminate the Colorado Department of Ed and join some weird quasi-secessionist “group of states” with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Cory Gardner’s flirtation with “birtherism,” not to mention the universal embrace of a radical abortion ban this year that failed by over 70% of the vote only two years ago, Arizona’s new immigration law that seems so popular today while ignoring the demographics of tomorrow…who among you really believes this is, in aggregate, a platform a majority of Colorado voters would support?
Our guess, even among Republicans, is not very damn many. Most who do defend recent lurches to the extremist (we are using that word very deliberately and objectively) right by Colorado Republican candidates do so with unconcealed cynicism, noting that the “Tea Party” and other radicalized conservatives represent the segment of the population most energized to vote this fall. As for the ‘proposals’ themselves? We’re supposed to accept that this complete whackadoo nonsense coming out of their mouths is either a contrivance or inexperience.
The problem here is not really partisan in nature, either: it’s about extremism in general. Extremism does not sell the broader electorate, it repels them. If a Democrat were to propose with a straight face that we go out tomorrow and double the size of the federal government, we would denounce that as similarly extreme and ridiculous. Are there any Democratic candidates in Colorado putting their name on a press release calling for that, though? That would be no.
We keep coming back to something former GOP Rep. Norma Anderson said to the authors of Blueprint: “Republicans have forgotten that politics is a game of addition, not subtraction.” The fact is that in Colorado, this lurch to the hard ideological right by Republicans has been going on for a long time, and has done tremendous internal damage to the party. What we didn’t expect is that even those who were casualties of that lurch–either in primaries like Scott McInnis, or the general election like Dick Wadhams–have apparently learned nothing.
If that’s true, then they remain on same path they have been on in Colorado for the last three election cycles, “wave year” or not: to long-term marginalization.
P.S.: Kudos to the Herald for actually digging into the meat of Tipton’s statement and discussing the potential repercussions. It’s vitally important that statements from politicians are actually debated by the media, rather than just recited verbatim.