In Colorado and across the nation, gun rights are under attack to a level unprecedented in modern history. Between magazine bans, “assault-weapons” bans, more restrictive background checks, background check fees, confiscation from those accused of domestic violence; laws prohibiting possession of certain types of ammunition, proposed laws prohibiting purchasing ammunition online and against possessing certain amounts or types of ammunition it is clear that the progressive Left has declared war on our Second Amendment rights.
The Left is energized, motivated and well-funded. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is well-known to all gun owners who treasure their rights. He is not the only billionaire funding the “gun safety” movement, and here in Colorado our gun rights are under attack from a committed group of home-grown m/billionaires.
As described in The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care) by Rob Witwer and Adam Schrager, a group of wealthy Coloradans including Tim Gill, Jared Polis, Pat Stryker and Rutt Bridges got together and formed the Colorado Democracy Alliance (or CODA) with the purpose of wresting control of the state capital from the Republicans.
They were successful in doing so, and in the years since CODA was formed, Colorado has been in the grip of a small group of progressive extremists, with the result that many unpopular left-wing agenda items have been enacted into law including renewable energy mandates, drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, and most importantly, gun control; including the abhorrent gun control laws passed in 2013.
The reason that CODA and its child organizations including ProgressNow Colorado have been so successful in forcing their agenda through is because of one simple guiding principle: They understand the rule of 33/18/1 and they don’t let minor policy differences and disagreements get in the way of winning elections.
The Rule of 33/18/1
Colorado’s General Assembly consists of a House of Representatives with 65 members, a state Senate with 35 members, and one governor. If a party controls half the house plus one (33), half the Senate plus one (18) and one governor’s office, they control the reins of government and they can enact whatever they want, regardless of what the majority of Coloradans might think is best.
CODA and its affiliated organizations devote their time and energy to recruiting and supporting candidates who will advance their agenda. They find like-minded people and support them, to the point that they target individual races they think they can win and go after the opponent in quite creative ways, with the target often completely ignorant of what happened to them until it’s too late.
Colorado’s largest voting bloc is “Unaffiliated/Independent”. This means that most Coloradans have a libertarian “live-and-let-live” viewpoint, and are supportive of abortion rights, same-sex marriage and personal choices and decisions including marijuana use and alternate lifestyles.
The primary voters who drive Republican Party caucuses and leadership are often socially conservative, meaning: pro-life and against same-sex marriage. For many of these people, these social issues are the primary motivating factor in who they support and how they vote.
The Republican office-holder who values his/her position in certain districts will support a bill restricting abortion rights or same-sex marriage because that is what their constituents want, regardless of what the party leadership wants and what is best for the Party on a statewide basis. As a result, moderate Independent voters are turned off to the Republicans and vote for Democrats.
It is the Republican stance –driven by primary voters and social conservatives – on these social issues that provide aid and empowerment to the Left, enabling them to stay on point and win elections.
By enabling the Left to win elections and maintain the rule of 33/18/1, social conservatives are unwittingly damaging the very Second Amendment they hold dear.
Ideological Purity vs Winning Elections
Many voters, me included, wish to vote their conscience and for the candidates and causes they support and believe in. I went through a phase of voting only for Libertarian candidates in bi-annual elections until I realized that a vote for a Libertarian is often the functional equivalent of voting for a Democrat, because the Libertarian most often just takes votes from a Republican who might otherwise have won.
For this reason, instead of becoming a Libertarian Party member, I believe it is more important to work within the Republican Party and try to get the primary voters, party officials and elected representatives to realize that social issues are poison, and that people must sometimes sacrifice ideological purity in order to win elections.
Is it more important to vote for the Republican candidate knowing they will introduce and vote for an abortion ban or to leave that off the table and vote for a candidate who takes the libertarian view on these social issues and is more likely to win moderate votes and thus the election?
The fact of the matter is that abortion will always be an issue, and by increasing numbers Americans are growing more supportive of same-sex marriage. By taking these divisive losing issues off the table, the GOP can focus on restoring our Second Amendment rights and rolling back the progressive agenda. I think that is far more important than forcing a woman into a back-alley abortion or preventing gays from getting married. I hope others come to that view as well.
By Richard D. Turnquist
June 1, 2015
Note: this was originally published in the June 2015 newsletter of the Colorado Second Amendment Society.