Guest commentary: Where do Colorado Republicans go from here?
It’s said that elections are MRIs for the soul. Well, the last election clearly gave Colorado Republicans plenty to think about. Democrats swept every statewide race on the ballot, took over the state senate, grew their majority in the state House and knocked off a five-term congressional incumbent. Immediately, the question was asked: Has Colorado turned permanently blue?
Before the left gets too excited, we should look at some of the other recent feedback from voters. Just two years ago, Coloradans voted down single-payer health care by a 58 percent margin. And in November, voters soundly defeated two massive tax hikes, rejected an extreme setback for oil and gas development, and embraced a new process for redistricting and reapportionment that will make it harder for Democrats to draw gerrymandered maps.
None of this is surprising. Historically, our state has been prone to smaller government and local control. It’s the mindset that brought us the popular Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) — and it’s the same values that conservatives still consider most important.
So then, how do Republicans turn policy agreement into future electoral success?
First, we as Republicans have to talk more about what we stand for rather than what we stand against. Voters gravitate toward people who have a clear vision and a relatable message. We should compare and contrast our positions to help educate people about the effects of different policies. Effective leaders always give people something to believe in. Voters want to know why, and how, Colorado can be even better 20 years from now.
Second, Republicans should promote a positive, inspirational message that focuses on creating more opportunity for more Coloradans. We live in the best state in the country. Our economy is ranked No. 1. Coloradans are amazing people — and we should celebrate every success story we can find. Then, we should talk about how to create more of these success stories. If we aren’t talking about how our policies help increase opportunity for each and every Coloradan, we are missing the boat.
Third, Republicans have to be ready when Democrats overreach. Democrats will inevitably overplay their hand by trying to circumvent the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, shrink our Second Amendment rights and further limit energy development (among other things). When this happens, Republicans will not only have to be ready with a positive vision for our state, but also with the infrastructure necessary to capitalize on that vision. The left’s long-term political infrastructure, which includes think tanks, grassroots organizations, media organizations, candidate training organizations and a whole lot of money, has been building since 2003. Conservatives need to catch up — quickly.
For Colorado Republicans, there’s a lot of work to do, but it’s doable. Our state deserves to have balance — with strong conservative voices alongside liberal voices. It’s why Sen. Cory Gardner’s re-election race is so important in 2020.
Adversity creates opportunity. We need more conservative voices who can outline a clear vision for the state — a vision that supports small business, promotes a world-class education system, works for our veterans and military, and protects the Colorado way of life that we all love.
Let’s get to work.
Michael Fields is the executive director of Colorado Rising Action, a nonprofit that focuses on accountability and advancing conservative principles.
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