Opinion | Morgan Liddick: This is no time for John Hickenlooper
On Your Right
To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Marc Anthony, I come to bury Gov. John Hickenlooper, not to praise him. That said …
Hickenlooper is a rare bird these days: a Democrat who is not a doctrinaire Progressive. In the July 19 Democratic debate, candidates were asked to raise their hands if they thought “illegal border crossing should only be a misdemeanor.” The only persons who did not do so were Hickenlooper and Sen. Michael Bennett. Both dropped out shortly thereafter, after persistently polling 1% or less. But an important point had been made: Not all Democrats are witless.
As we know, Hickenlooper was the mayor of Denver, then a two-term governor. Before any of that, he was a geologist and a craft brewer. Both trades stuck with him and served the state of Colorado well during his governorship. He noted in his 2017 State of the State message that Colorado had become “one of the best states in the country for natural gas production, as indeed it was before Gov. Jared “NIMBY” Polis took over. Similarly, his background as a businessman gave him an ability to see multiple solutions to challenges, along with willingness to address problems practically with due consideration to all parties. Unfortunately, neither practicality nor win-win solutions cut much ice in today’s Democratic Party. Last June at the California party convention, Hickenlooper was booed for his speech rejecting socialism as a cure for the nation’s minor economic woes.
Democrats’ spurning of a successful governor from a purple state is something they may well rue. Hickenlooper’s accomplishments included longstanding desiderata they would not have achieved in Colorado without him: establishing a national model for regulating recreational marijuana, despite thinking legalization was a mistake, and successfully pushing for the expansion of Medicaid were two.
He also addressed more conservative concerns. Wanting to ensure Colorado taxpayers were getting their money’s worth, Hickenlooper created an online dashboard of goals and metrics to measure how efficient state government was. He inherited a state government $75 million in debt, but after eight years of careful management left it well in the black.
It wasn’t all joy. The governor signed a bill to establish civil unions prior to the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and approved gun-control legislation to establish universal background checks and limit magazines to 15 rounds. These two measures were done on a partisan basis, and they still rankle. The former was apparently taken as a green light for the LGBT community’s efforts to suppress the rights of religious Coloradans. Magazine limits drove at least one company from the state. At least the governor was more circumspect than Robert Francis O’Rourke, who publicly stated he just wants to snatch everyone’s guns all up. As a Texas boy, he should know better.
I had issues with many of Hickenlooper’s decisions in his two terms. That said, he was miles better than any of the others in the Democrats’ torch-and-pitchfork presidential candidate mob, howling for socialism and President Donald Trump’s blood. That none in that contest sees the why of this is more a comment on the current state of the party than on the character and qualities of Hickenlooper. He is a fair-minded man who adhered to the radical center of political life, and his departure from the presidential race is the Democrats’ great loss.
That said, now that he is running for U.S. Senate, should Colorado elect him? No. Hickenlooper has the great bad fortune to be running for Senate in an election that will probably be decided on national, not state, issues — in particular, control of the Senate for the upcoming farce of a presidential impeachment by a lynch mob of House Democrats seething with rage and single-mindedly intent on reversing the election of 2016 by any means necessary. Colorado’s replacement of Cory Gardner’s “R” with Hickenlooper’s “D” would be problematic under these circumstances. A shame, since both are good men with Colorado’s interests chiefly at heart, but absolutely necessary by the rules of the game Democrats themselves have established, rules that have at their core the Stalinist directive of “not one inch.”
“I’ve always said Washington was a lousy place for a guy like me who wants to get things done — but this is no time to walk away from the table,” Hickenlooper has said.
He’s right: This is no time to walk away. And unfortunately, no time for Hickenlooper.
Morgan Liddick’s column “On Your Right” publishes Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. Liddick spent 27 years working for the U.S. Foreign Service, primarily living abroad. He also spent 12 years teaching U.S. history and Western civilization at community colleges in Colorado and Texas. He lived in Summit County as recently as 2015. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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