Opening the conservative playbook | AspenTimes.com
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Opening the conservative playbook

Dear Editor:In the race for mayor supporters of Tim Semrau parrot two negative talking points against Mick Ireland: one accuses him of being a career politician and the other trumpets that he will regulate everything.These two invalidating notions from the conservative playbook, along with blame the media, cleverly encourage sympathetic voters to draw simplistic conclusions against a candidate, usually based on a single negative issue or some bad experience the voter might have had with someone in government.We’ve seen these tired barbs on the national stage before, most sharply when Newt Gringrich promoted the 1994 Contract with America, which included term limits for Congress (which failed), and before that when anti-government sloganeering gained traction in the Reagan era.Conservative agitators suggest that career politicians – except their own – are bad because they’ve become entrenched and beholden to factions, even though a majority may want to re-elect them based on their records. The myth arising from this, worked hard by the Bush administration, is that a bumpkin has a better understanding of things than someone with too much education.Would you want an inexperienced plumber, or a surgeon who has only done a few operations?On the second point, wherein government regulation is bad, there has to be a middle ground, with adjustments. No government gives us Somalia and Iraq; too much government gives us North Korea and China.Also, the doctrine that government regulation is a bad thing is a keystone of the now wobbly neoconservative movement – populated by such self-declared Atlas Shrugged fans as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Justice Clarence Thomas – which grew out of Ronald Reagan’s homilies about getting government off our backs. From this came the demonization of “tax-and-spend liberals.”Historically, American conservatives were against the U.S. War of Independence, abolitionists, women’s suffrage, labor laws, social security, civil rights, birth control and the U.N. But communism was the big enchilada, and when communism fell, leaving a major vacuum, they turned on government as the enemy.Newest on the enemy scene is terror. Ironically, though, in the name of the war on terror, government is adding GPS devices to our new computers, cars, passports and cell phones.The point here is that conservatism, neo or otherwise, needs an enemy in order to flourish, and is more often against something than for something.So, a political candidate who proposes government action to level the playing field is branded as wanting to overregulate, which is code for undermining your right to make money with no rules.This theme is playing out in the local mayoral election, and to align us, the candidates print campaign ads with pictures of like-minded local individuals. For example, Tim’s campaign ads feature the many faces of real estate agents, while Mick’s supporters are diverse, with less vested interest in development.Though both mayoral candidates are ambitious and honorable men – “so are they all, all honorable men” – Mick’s primary transportation is a bicycle and Tim’s is a Porsche SUV. Thus, their differences are both striking and subtle at the same time.Please vote for Mick Ireland.Tim CooneyAspen


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