"The name of Douglas Bruce is synonymous in Colorado with fidelity to the Constitution, protection of the taxpayer, and selfless dedication to the common good," a leading conservative wrote prior to Bruce's win on Dec. 1 for a state House vacancy appointment in Colorado Springs, adding: "Never have those qualities been more needed in state government than in these times of secular progressivism on the march." The endorsement letter, now posted at DouglasBruce.com, concludes: "You have my gratitude for two decades of heroic work in the cause of TABOR, and my best wishes in winning the HD-15 seat." It was signed by yours truly -- from which it will be obvious that my evaluation of Bruce's usefulness in the legislature differs sharply from the negative appraisal in David Harsanyi's recent column for the Denver Post.
I wish my friend David, in seeking quotes about Doug Bruce from ex-legislators, would have gone a few more clicks into his rolodex and called former Sen. John Andrews instead of, or in addition to, former Sen. Norma Anderson, who is the very essence of a big-government Republican, a bossy grandma closely allied to that nanny state which Harsanyi so dislikes, and herself a master of the same acid, superior tone which supposedly disqualifies Bruce from effective public service.
I could have topped all of Harsanyi's anecdotes about the off-putting Bruce style twice over, based on long personal experience back to my 1990 campaign for governor against Roy Romer, when the TABOR author was simultaneously my valuable ally and a frequent complication to my efforts. But I would have pointed out, bottom line, that TABOR did run 10 points ahead of me that year, barely losing, and that since its ultimate success on the ballot two years later, it has made more of a beneficial difference for liberty and limited government in Colorado than anybody (me included) who served, or hoped to serve, as governor.
Libertarian conservatives like David and me should make no mistake about it: much credit is due Douglas Bruce when the history of our state from 1980 to 2020 is finally written. The laws, made by legislators and governors, are where the government tells the people what to do. But the constitution is one level higher; it's where the people tell the government what to do. For his leadership in altering Colorado's constitution back toward the intent of our power-suspicious Founding Fathers, Representative-elect Bruce deserves the gratitude of all, even of those who don't happen to know it.
That said, why do I believe his influence as a member of the General Assembly will weigh more in the plus column than in the minus, for friends of freedom like Harsanyi and Andrews? Because I believe, as stated in my endorsement letter to Douglas Bruce, quoted above, that the times call for the telling of hard truths and the drawing of bright lines -- even when some of the resulting discomfort, mainly felt by Democrats, may also spill onto my fellow Republicans. And Mr. Bruce, while he's no cuddly Sudanese teddy bear, is one of the few who can and will take on that thankless role.
In his candidate speech to the GOP House District 15 vacancy committee last Saturday, Bruce argued he scores pretty well on a "five I" test of integrity, intellect, issues, impact, and image. I recommend you read the whole thing on his website (see pdf file partway down left column). But notice in particular the candid self-awareness, and sardonic self-deprecation, in these closing paragraphs:
"The last 'I' test is Image. Here's where I am faulted. When liberals push silly schemes, I disagree. The media magnifies conflicts, so I'm called 'disruptive' by those who resent dissent. They wish our side would be silent, meek, passive, asleep, invisible. Fighting Big Government is always risky business. The Left hates to lose, so it takes revenge, using the politics of personal destruction.
"Yes, I am serious, intense, idealistic, and goal-oriented. I want to help all God's children to be free. Yes, I'm still working on my charm deficit. I plan to invite each legislator to a meal, one-on-one, to explore possible points of agreement. With liberals, those areas may be few, but I will still make the offer....
"Merely challenging the status quo is not 'making trouble;' it is the first step towards reform. To blow the whistle on wasteful spending requires making a noise! As for social graces, I admit I prize candor over coyness, substance over style, political principles over personal popularity. Tact is not my strong suit, but I'm trying. (Some would say I'm very trying!)
"I've always followed the advice that, before criticizing anyone, you should walk a mile in his shoes. That way, your opponent is a mile away, and barefoot!"
Douglas Bruce in the Colorado House of Representatives is going to be quite a spectacle, no doubt about it. Stay tuned for the fireworks when he takes his seat and the session opens next month. Barefoot opponents won't be the half of it.
You can expect Rep. Bruce to proclaim at every opportunity that the left-liberal emperor has no clothes at all -- bare naked yet shameless about it. If we want to revive the constitution and save the Republic, somebody has to say that. I believe Doug is just the man.