Andrews in Print

Clashing freedoms can coexist

Did you hear about the Jewish festival selling an exhibit table to the Christian proselytizers? Or the Catholic conference where opponents, after pitching a fit, were allowed a poster saying the Pope is the anti-Christ? Of course not. But how about the Planned Parenthood seminar where pro-lifers insisted on displaying gruesome photos of aborted babies? Or the Log Cabin Republicans gay advocacy group letting Fred Phelps advertise at their convention?

Why didn’t you hear about any of those incompatible matchups? Because the American way is freedom, fairness, tolerance as a two-way street. The American way is live and let live. Private organizations, whether religious or secular, get to choose their partners and presenters in keeping with the organization’s core values.

What you have heard about this week, though, is the Log Cabin Republicans laying on a national campaign of shaming and bullying against Colorado Christian University for asserting that same First Amendment protection – the right to choose our partners and presenters at an upcoming conference in keeping with our own core values.

Annually since 2010, CCU has hosted the Western Conservative Summit. We’re expecting 4000 delegates, 50 speakers, and 100 exhibitors this coming June 26-28. But the Summit is not about parties. It’s a freedom rally with a Christian biblical worldview.

Participants needn’t endorse that worldview, but if a group opposes it, we can’t endorse them. So the Colorado Log Cabin Republicans, with their advocacy of same-sex marriage, were turned down after applying to be an exhibit partner and making provisional payment.

We encouraged them to attend as individuals instead, then refunded the payment and explained our tenet of faith that marriage is one man and one woman. Anti-gay? No. We’ve had Tammy Bruce speak at the Summit and Mark Ferrandino speak on campus. We love everyone, gay or straight, as Jesus commands us.

To have had Log Cabin supporters from across the country calling us haters, bigots, and the Taliban in return, trying to shut down our conference, didn’t feel like the American way. We wanted to say: get a “Coexist” bumper sticker, people. We respect your sexual freedom. Please respect our religious freedom.

It makes sense for the state Republican Party to include Log Cabin as an official GOP affiliate group at their Summit exhibit booth, along with other affiliate groups for women, blacks, Hispanics, etc. That’s the party’s call, not CCU’s call – a win-win for friends of liberty and limited government. Everyone’s welcome at the Summit. See you there. ------------------- This first appeared in the Denver Post on April 18, 2015. John Andrews (AndrewsJK76@gmail.com) is a former president of the Colorado Senate and currently director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University.

When the governed stop consenting

(Denver Post, July 15) The recall elections pending for two state senators and the movement for ten rural counties to secede from Colorado, along with the chaos in Egypt, got me to thinking about political legitimacy. No, it’s not a topic trending on Twitter right now. Stop 20 people on the street, and 19 of them couldn’t define it if you put a gun to their heads. But legitimacy matters, and it actually relates to guns in a couple of ways. If we start to lose it in this country, as they already have in Egypt, look out. So bear with me. Political legitimacy is the minimum level of confidence that a government needs to have among the populace to keep civil order from breaking down and anarchy from breaking out. President Morsi’s elected regime in Cairo couldn’t sustain its legitimacy. Now the generals who toppled him may not be able to sustain theirs either. Rough waters ahead for a rudderless ship of state.

All this may seem like a far cry from the cat fight between liberal Senate President John Morse and his conservative Colorado Springs constituents, or the semi-comic rural revolt out in Akron last week, where a ballot issue to form the new state of North Colorado was kicked around. It’s not, because the same deadly serious political realities are involved.

The power for a few of us to rule the rest of us by passing laws and compelling obedience, taking our money or property, locking up the uncooperative, and even using lethal force, isn’t a natural thing like gravity. It’s a social convention like language. To endure and succeed over time, that power requires what the Declaration of Independence calls “the consent of the governed” – which shows signs of strain in our state right now.

“Hey, we didn’t sign up for this,” the petition-signers against Morse in Colorado Springs and his fellow Democrat, Sen. Angela Giron in Pueblo, as well as the angry farmers in Weld and neighboring count I saying that Denver’s Civic Center will end up like Cairo’s Tahrir Square, a seething mass of violent protesters? Of course not. The headlines from near and far are simply evoking once again the concern explored in my 2011 book, “Responsibility Reborn,” that the old age of nations will overtake America if we don’t pick up our game.

Legitimacy doesn’t collapse all at once. It frays, fades, and falters over time. American self-government has been steadily losing its grip on popular consent for at least a generation. Polls show it. To renew itself, the country needs a higher order of statesmanship from politicians in both parties than what we’re now getting – and a higher order of citiies, are saying in effect. Are they fed-up freemen or merely sore losers? Opinions will differs? Of course not. The headlines from near and far are simply evoking once again the concern explored in my 2011 book, “Responsibility Reborn,” that the old age of nations will overtake America if we don’t pick up our game.

Legitimacy doesn’t collapse all at once. It frays, fades, and falters over time. American self-government has been steadily losing its grip on popular consent for at least a generation. Polls show it. To renew itself, the country needs a higher order of statesmanship from politicians in both parties than what we’re now getting – and a higher order of citizenship from we the people than what you and I see in the mirror.

Secession by the Greeley gang isn’t going to happen. Still it must be heeded as what our therapeutic age calls “a cry for help.” Recall of the two state senators by voters may or may not happen. (And recall of our U.S. senators definitely won’t, despite Tea Party voices in favor; it’s not constitutional.) But we should view all of this as symptoms of legitimacy at risk, and think hard about how to rebuild a deeper, wider consent.

Even if you are not interested in politics, politics is interested in you. So warned Pericles, 2500 years ago in the Athenian republic. That’s “res publica” from Latin. It means the public thing, everybody’s concern. No one can opt out, sorry. We’re all in this together.

How to run against Hickenlooper

(Denver Post, June 2) “Colorado can do better.” Four words, scarcely a sound bite. But if you start hearing them in reference to Gov. John Hickenlooper as 2014 approaches, you’ll know the election is not a walkover for him after all. Because when it comes to policy results from the state’s chief executive, those words are true. Leave personalities out of it. We don’t know who the incumbent Democrat’s ultimate Republican opponent will be. We don’t even know if Hick will run again. We just know that current state-to-state comparisons don’t flatter Colorado. Jobs, schools, roads, public safety – none of these yardsticks indicate top performance by the governor.

Never mind his gibe that GOP gubernatorial hopefuls “sat around the campfire and figured out they’ve got to act excited” about winning next year. Never mind his coyness about presidential ambitions in “The New Yorker.” The fact is, Hickenlooper has not led. So on the fundamentals, as they say in sports, he is beatable.

For the same reason the Rockies changed managers and the Buffs changed coaches, Coloradans could decide to change governors. It will be game on, the minute a forceful challenger – unfazed by Hick’s folksy mystique – starts connecting the dots and asking him the obvious questions.

Why is it, Governor, that Colorado has the worst unemployment rate of any state between the Mississippi and the Sierras, with the exception of Arizona and Nevada? Are we supposed to be content with that? Whatever became of your “TBD” job-creation plan? Will it remain “to be determined” throughout your second term, if we reelect you?

What makes you think, sir, that this fall’s ballot proposal for raising Colorado’s income tax rate to pour another billion dollars into status-quo public schools is either economically or educationally beneficial?

You’re not aware of the research showing that states with lower income tax rates (or none at all) outperform the rest on economic growth? (See the American Legislative Exchange Council’s study, “Rich States, Poor States.) You see no benefit in going with Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Maine, Arkansas, and Missouri down the tax-cutting road?

How can you still believe in the education-spending tooth fairy, Governor, after America has seen no improvement in test scores while real dollars per child in the public schools have tripled since 1970? Can we put you in touch with some of your counterparts – Bobby Jindal in Baton Rouge, Jan Brewer in Phoenix, Rick Scott in Tallahassee – for a tutorial on how parental choice is helping every child in their states, poor kids above all?

As for transportation, sir, we know your motor scooter (or state limo) zips through traffic quite effortlessly. But has anyone told you about the congestion still prevailing on I-25, despite light rail? Or about the slow crawl on I-70 to the mountains in ski season and last Memorial Day weekend? Why is the Hickenlooper highway expansion program also TBD?

At the risk of sounding like Columbo, Governor, just a couple more questions. Who allowed the massive state parole breakdown that cost Corrections Director Tom Clements his life? And why the spike in metro Denver gang violence? And the marijuana legalization that has the whole country laughing at us – with more of a campaign couldn’t you have defeated that? We hardly recognize our state any more.

Gov. Steve McNichols (D) in 1962 and Gov. John Vanderhoof (R) in 1974 were thought to be safe incumbents. They lost to John Love and Dick Lamm, respectively. Gov. Roy Romer (D) was thought a lock in 1990, and he was. I got creamed. Will voters in 2014 decide Colorado can do better than Gov. John Hickenlooper? Place your bets.

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John Andrews (andrewsjk@aol.com) is director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University and a former state senator. He was the Republican nominee for Governor in 1990.

A very different Colorado

(Denver Post, Apr. 28) Watch closely as the legislature enters its final ten days of the 2013 session. This year is shaping up as a game-changer for the way Coloradans govern ourselves and seek the common good. Over the decades, we’ve seen a Republican-led House and Senate confronting a Democratic governor, and vice versa. We’ve seen the House and Senate controlled by opposite parties. We’ve seen the GOP in complete control, as they were briefly under Gov. Bill Owens, and the Dems in complete control, as they are now under Gov. John Hickenlooper. But never in my 40 years here have we seen so aggressive an ideological agenda rammed through by one party – and with a nasty kicker in the form of rigged election rules that could lock in the dominant party’s gains for a generation. That’s what I mean by game-changer.

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino and Senate President John Morse, with Hickenlooper riding along, have done nothing wrong. Democrats got the car keys when voters turned over five House seats last November, and their leaders wasted no time in steering leftward and mashing the accelerator. Fair enough.

It’s been a joyride for the Obamian progressives. The result for Colorado working families, however, may be a hollow feeling like that bumper sticker you’ve seen: “The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.” After this year’s liberal legislative rout, we’ll all be diminished as citizens – because bigger, bossier government is on the way.

Majority Dems in both chambers are decent people with good intentions. Most are sensible enough to see the joke in saying you’re from the government and you’re here to help me. Yet they’re also utopian enough to think that in their own case, it’s really true. So from a leftist viewpoint, no doubt their 2013 agenda looked noble. But not when viewed from the right.

For all of us who believe that citizens’ possibilities are nearly unlimited when government is limited, the future that Morse, Ferrandino, and Hickenlooper envision is a very different Colorado than we’ve known – a Colorado where opportunity and liberty are narrowed.

Look at what this legislature has done with the bills that have already passed, or that are likely to pass before adjournment on May 8. They’ve impaired job-creators and employers to the advantage of unions and trial lawyers. They’ve obstructed oil and gas production and raised the cost of electricity with draconian green mandates. Economic growth will be the worse for it.

They’ve infringed the constitutional right of self-defense with unenforceable universal background checks and pointless ammunition restrictions. The emotional outlet of passing such laws won’t prevent the next Aurora massacre – but it may embolden the next Tsarnaev brothers.

There’s more. The legislature has signaled “Come on in” to border-jumpers and visa-jumpers with subsidized college tuitions and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. If this is the rule of law, Chris Christie is a ballerina.

They’ve doubled down on a dysfunctional Medicaid program – unsatisfactory for patients and providers alike – by expanding it with megabucks of borrowed federal money; the same money Dick Lamm recently called “economic cocaine” in these pages. And that money will soon taper off, sticking Coloradans with the tab; the same Coloradans this legislature hopes will raise school taxes by a billion dollars.

The diabolically clever topper is something called House Bill 1303. It mandates fraud-friendly same-day voter registration. Upon its passage (effective even this fall), presto – Democrats will have tilted the electoral playing field permanently their way. Republican chances for regaining power and repealing any of this stuff will fade.

When progressives in 1913 passed the income tax, currency manipulation by the Fed, and new election rules for senators, they gave us a very different America. Progressives’ legislative rout in 2013 will give us a very different Colorado. Brace yourself.