Overreach, or Pent-Up Progress?

Depending on how you look at it, the Democratic-controlled Colorado General Assembly is in the midst of one of the most productive legislative sessions that anyone at the state capitol can remember.

Or, Democrats in the General Assembly are horrendously "overreaching," attempting to do too much too fast, and endangering the majorities they have been building up in this state for nearly a decade.

Only one of these opinions is correct, of course.

So far this legislative session, the Democratic majority has passed civil unions legislation for LGBT couples that had died twice in the prior two years of the Republican Party's one-seat House majority. Likewise with ASSET, the bill granting in-state tuition to undocumented graduates of Colorado high schools. Debate is presently underway on a massive overhaul of education funding in the state, which has been judged seriously deficient and unequal in the historic court case of Lobato vs. Colorado. Medicaid expansion is underway with the support of Gov. John Hickenlooper. Bills are proceeding to restrict the use of credit information in job decisions and increase oversight of the oil and gas industry, both major Democratic policy goals. And of course, the recent month-long struggle over gun safety legislation ended in Democratic victory on two of their biggest priorities.

All of that to report, and we're probably missing some items. Against this growing record of accomplishment, Republicans are beginning to respond–centered around the gun issue, but touching on all of these–that Democrats are "overreaching," that their focus has come off "jobs and the economy," and so forth.

What you're not seeing from Republicans, though, are many specifics in opposition to what Democrats are accomplishing legislatively with their newly recovered majority. To be sure, especially with regard to guns, they are vocally in opposition–but even with guns, they are reliant, as we have recounted in this space over and over, on hyperbole and outright misinformation to make their case. In the case of civil unions, Republican opposition didn't center on the issue itself, but the "distraction" from the "more pressing issues" of "jobs and the economy."

And why, you ask, does Republican opposition on these issues tend to redirect from the issues themselves?

Because the public in Colorado supports what Democrats are doing. 

Public opinion polls have consistently shown support for civil unions legislation in Colorado for the past several years. Polls also show strong and enduring support for gun safety legislation, a change that has been brought about in part by tragic mass shooting incidents last year including in Aurora, Colorado. The charge of "overreach" simply does not stick with issues that enjoy the kind of broad public support as these do, no matter how many times Republicans use that word in the coming months. In fact, Democrats stand to gain much more by running on a record of actually accomplishing something on these longstanding and contentious problems.

By the end of the legislative session, Colorado Democrats will indeed have a long list of legislative accomplishments to run on. We predict there will also be some examples where moderates rein in expectations–we don't think, for example, that this is the year the death penalty will be repealed, nor do we expect the growing conflict between the conservation community and Gov. Hickenlooper is going to be resolved anytime soon. There's no sense among Democrats that they have permission to suddenly go hog wild. This is, as Denver Mayor Wellington Webb used to say, "progress as promised." It is in fact a whole lot of pent-up progress, a consequence of being stymied for two years by a divided legislature.

And nothing–not the cynical Colorado press and pundit corps ashamed of their own mediocrity, not an army of professional naysayers paid for by the Koch brothers and the Heritage Foundation–can take it from them. In an era where cynicism about politics is the rule, not the exception, majority Colorado Democrats are making good on their campaign promises, and making believers out of a disenchanted public.

If that is not to be rewarded in our politics, our politics are indeed broken.

23 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    I think most Republicans will campaign on a platform of "Democratic overreach." And if their Democratic opponents can counter the lies and get the camapign focused on the truth, then they will win. But they have to counter the lies.

  2. DavieDavie says:

    Excellent post.  And something that Dems do need to be sensitive to.  But as you point out, the "Democrat-controlled" (in the words of GOP PR department, aka the Denver Post) legislature has been passing bills that by and large have the support of the majority of Coloradans, regardless of political affiliation.

    We absolutely do need to keep control of the messaging.

    But will this lead to the wholesale conversion of Republicans to the Democratic Party?  Probably not. Besides, the GOP is already doing a bang up job with that task anyway.

  3. ClubTwitty says:

    As long as the shrill crazies and xenophobic hyperbolic loud mouths dominate the GOP message in CO (which there is little reason to suspect they will not) I think that a legislature that actually does things (contrast: Frank McNulty) is a plus for the Dems. 

  4. yameniyeyameniye says:

    The pent up demand is very appropriate.  The Republicans started their march to irreverence in the late 90's with the power rise of Daddy (show off in the shower) Dobson and the stringent application of god, guns and gays vetting.  As the Republican focus shifted from running a state to purifying their ranks, the cracks appeared.  What the Colorado R's did then laid for where they are today.  They had a chance with the 2010 election.  That gave them a chance to govern.  That chance instead allowed them to double down on god, guns, and gays.  Until the party changes, being irrevelent is their world.

  5. morgancarroll says:

    My 2 cents.  CO has had the 5th fastest recovery in the nation and expected to add an additional 172,000 jobs this year.  Dems are investing in tourism, economic develop and removing barriers to returning to work (i.e. credit scores).  GOP has both criticized Dems for not doing enough, but failed to introduce any jobs bills of their own and at the same time repeatedly said there is no role of government in job creation or economic development.  

    DC has had profound difficulty getting anything done.  CO Dems this year have shunned the trivial and insignificant in favor of substantive reforms that matter for people of CO.  You will also see significant mental health reforms, health care reforms, child fatality / welfare reforms, and increase in K12, higher education funding. 

    I would add that the death penalty is an arbitrary and failed policy in my opinion, that costs us over $1 million per year without increasing public safety.  I hope we join the other states and balance of the western industrialized nations by embracing its repeal this year.  The coalition for repeal includes civil rights groups, religious organizations, Libertarian supporters, some unlikely victims, survivors, people who were wrongly convicted who know you can't reverse an execution.  We have bi-partisan support this year for its repeal which in my view makes this the best year yet to abolish the death penalty.

     

    • yameniyeyameniye says:

      Thank you for your hard work.  You have always been working on improving Colorado. I hope you do this for a long time. 

      The putting to death those who have committed the most heineous of crimes is a left over from the days of long ago.  Get rid of it.

    • MADCO says:

      …criticized Dems for not doing enough,  ….and at the same time repeatedly said there is no role of government in job creation or economic development. 

       

      This always kills me. It's classic anti-gov't double speak.

      Just get gov't out of the way….except regulate my opponents out of business and give me tax breaks

      Adam Smith wrote about this paradox in a market economy…in the 18th century.  But is writing style is …archaic and difficult. And while it could be taught to most high school students, it's not even taught to most college students.

       

      see   http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3300

    • BlueCat says:

      From Dem gains here, including the election of the Salazars to the Senate and the House, back in 2004 even as we mourned the loss of the presidential election, Colorado  has been a harbinger of changes to come.  As for over-reach, that's rich coming  from the party that never loses an opportunity to try to gerrymander their way to victory and pass draconian social  legislation while paying lip service to a supposed dedication to jobs the second they attain a majority anywhere at any level.

      As several have pointed out, the things our Colorado Dems are reaching for have public support.  That's not overreach. That's a refreshing change from old, once legit but now out-dated habits of fearing the GOP spin machine too much to reach far enough. Bravo, Colorado Dems, continuing to lead the way and give encouragement to Dems all across the country

  6. Gilpin GuyGilpin Guy says:

    I tihnk the whole gun issue is going to backfire on Republicans when they come up to next November and not one single person has had the government confiscate their guns.  I have asked my hysteirical and fearful friends who are gun owners when the "evil guvment" is going to come and take their guns and they won't give me a date.  Not next week or next month or 2014 or 2015.  It's always this imminent threat that they know is coming but they can't tell me when.  We all know the story about the boy who cried wolf but Republicans don't remember that causing alarm for no purpose isn't the way to win friends and influence people.  They are the ones who are "overreaching" with their fear mongering and it is going come back and bite them in the ass big time.

  7. MADCO says:

    ….productive …."overreaching"

    Only one of these opinions is correct, of course.

     

    Pshaw.

    Both could be – and are – correct.

     

    The 1984 Tigers were the best team in the modern era.

    The 1984 Tigers were the most overrated, lucky team to ever be called champion.

    Hell the 84 Tigers weren't even as good as the 68 TIgers, let alone the best teams of the rest of the league.

    They got to play the 84 Royals to get to the Series- could be the weakest ever ALCS team. And then they got to play the freakin' Padres in the Series. Tigers Stadium wasn't even sold out for the Series winning game 5.

     

    You get my point.

    There is no absolute measure- so both could be right. Both could be wrong.

    Otherwise- you're right.  R's will run away from the issues and bash the process and the table.  D's will ignore process and focus on issues.

    Except for education funding. If anything happens here- both sides will choose typical messaging and bash away on everything.

     

     

     

  8. morgancarroll says:

    We will also see legislation to address unresolved fracking issues, reforms to the procurement system, civil rights enforcement, Medicaid Expansion & ACA implementation, and correcting CO law so that a rape victim who gets pregnant and has the child does not have to see the rapist again to co-parent.   Seems to me that if we can solve a problem while we are in a position to do so, we should try, even if it isn't always easy.  Life and time is short, particularly with term limits.  Personally would rather regret trying and failing than regret failing to try to fix known problems or inequities. 

  9. ArapaGOPArapaGOP says:

    Hahahahahaha what delusion! In 2014, we will show you how much the voters value gay marriage, gun control, and cheap tuition for illegals.

    It is overreach, and it is stunning that Colorado Pols doesn't get that. For years, Colorado Pols has taught moderation to Democrats, and now you are the cheerleaders of radicalism. We all knew your true colors!

    • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

      A giant problem Republicans face is many only talk to people that agree with them. In that discussion they then become convinced that everyone agrees with them. You're going to be sadly disappointed next year November.

      • ClubTwitty says:

        The polls are skewed!  They oversampled Dems!  Romney in a landslide! 

        I can't even get my news from Fox anymore since they have gone all soft on Obama! 

        Clearly Coloradans will never legalize MJ, and this time the Eggmendment will pass! 

        How you come across.

        And what is this 'gay marriage' you speak of? You mean civil unions?  Nothing you ever say ever has any credibility.  Or do you expect us to treat you like an investment prospectus?  'Past performance does not guarantee future results.'?  After so many stupid and wrong things, what reasonable person would ever accept another thing you post? 

    • Curmudgeon says:

      So, when this prediction turns out to be wrong, will you run and hide like a whimpering dog? Y'know, like last time?

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