Challenging a Colorado Democrat
by State Senator Ken Gordon and Ralph Shnelvar, September 10, 2004 (posted)
Editor's note: As described in a September 2 story by John Sanko in the Rocky Mountain News, State Senator Ken Gordon recently launched www.ThisMatters.org to counter Colorado Republicans. Following is an e-mail Gordon released about the project (republished with his permission), along with a reply by Ralph Shnelvar, the 2002 Libertarian candidate for governor. -- Ari Armstrong
Ken GordonThisMatters: Not for right-wing Republican eyes -- Honor System.
The restrooms in the Tattered Cover bookstore are in the basement. That is why you are getting this email. I had to go to the basement.
The lower level is also where they do book signings. I ran across Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's former campaign manager, selling his book on the use of the internet in politics -- The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.
I told Trippi that I was trying to overthrow a right-wing Republican monopoly in my state. A monopoly that had caused Colorado's government to be more about gays, guns and God, than education, health care, jobs and the environment. I told him that I had an email list of several thousand and that I was trying to get my head around what to do. He told me to buy a copy of the book. It would help me. Trippi wrote in the cover. 'Ken -- Thanks for leading the bottom up revolution of ideas. We need more like you.' Joe Trippi.
He was too complimentary, but I am not sure what the etiquette of book signing ceremonies is. Perhaps exaggeration is allowed. Anyway, I am doing what I told him I was going to do. I have to now. He wrote it in my book.
This would be a good place for right-wing Republicans with high blood pressure to stop reading.
However, if you are a moderate Republican, an unaffiliated voter or a Democrat keep on.
Shortly after the book signing I registered a new internet domain name --ThisMatters.org. ThisMatters.org is about empowering the people of Colorado to pull our government back into the mainstream.
At this time of year many are focused on the Presidential or other Federal races but what Colorado's legislature does matters to your life.
When the legislature spends more time making sure that there are concealed handguns on Colorado's streets, parks and public areas than it spends on making sure we have excellent public schools -- you, your family and your community suffer.
When the Senate holds hearings on whether the professors at our universities are too liberal, instead of trying to help preserve our universities, in the face of devastating funding cuts -- you, your family and your community suffer.
When the Colorado House Judiciary Committee spends its time trying to impeach a judge whose offense was trying to shield a child from anti-gay prejudice, rather than trying to ensure basic judicial services -- you, your family and your community suffer.
Colorado has a right-wing executive and legislative branch. Because right-wing activists vote in disproportionately high numbers in Republican primaries, moderate Republicans with mainstream values (and there are many) tend not to get to the legislature.
Your government is way to the right of where the people of Colorado are. Way.
We can do something though. This is what elections are for. Our best chance to get some balance in Colorado's government is for one or two right-wing Republicans to lose their seats in the Colorado Senate.
The Republicans currently have a one vote majority in the Colorado Senate. One vote! Because of this slim majority every Senate committee chair is a Republican and every committee has a Republican majority. The President of the Senate, John Andrews is... well you know. If the Republicans lose one seat, all of this reverses.
This goal is focused and attainable. It will make Colorado's government more mainstream, more responsive to our citizens. Less wacko.
The people of Colorado can make this change and ThisMatters.org can help.
Do this for me -- actually for us. Forward this email to your list. Let's get the word out.
Volunteer to help us walk door to door.
Make a contribution. You can make a contribution on the website or you can send a check to ThisMatters, ThisMatters.org, P.O. Box 46126, Denver, CO 80201. If 100 people send $100 we can send mail to 20,000 swing voters. If 200 people send $50 we can buy 3,000 yard signs. If 400 people send $25 we can we can print 50,000 pieces of campaign literature. For a small affordable contribution you can start to take your government back from extremists.
Make a suggestion. You can email me at email@example.com or interact directly with the website, ThisMatters.org.
The website provides information on key races. It solicits suggestions and allows for interaction. It is a guide for citizens who want to take their government back.
And remember, forward this to your list. The people of Colorado will make this change when they realize the need. Forwarding this email will begin a chain reaction. In two or three email generations tens of thousands of Coloradans will begin to focus on how Colorado's government matters more to our welfare than the higher visibility campaigns, and things will start to change. Copy me on the forward so I can see how this is going. I'm at [ken**AT**kengordon.com].
Hope you are well.
P.S. Following are a couple of announcements:
Please join Representative Romanoff and me on Tuesday, August 31, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., at Cranmer Park. Our ice cream social will be held near Second Avenue and Bellaire Street; that's four blocks south of Sixth Avenue and four blocks east of Colorado Boulevard. To RSVP, please click here.
And don't miss Revolution Rockfest 2004. WakeUpColorado is hosting Revolution Rockfest at the Gothic Theater the evening of Thursday September 16 and they're going to rock the right right out of office! There will be live music and a cash bar. WakeUpColorado is a small donor committee working to return the state senate to the mainstream. All the proceeds will go to state senate candidates. To purchase your ticket please visit www.wakeupcolorado.org, click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Honorary Host: Congressman Mark Udall
Date: Thursday September 16
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Dear Senator Gordon:
I read your engaging Epistles to the Coloradans with interest. This one, though, has caused me to respond to you.
I have come to the conclusion that your heart is in the right place but that your heart has superseded your mind in what is best for the body politic.
On social issues you are -- to my mind -- exactly correct. Your work on, for instance, prison reform has made me admire you.
Yet your grasp of basic economics distresses me to no end. When you write, for instance, "When the Senate holds hearings on whether the professors at our universities are too liberal, instead of trying to help preserve our universities, in the face of devastating funding cuts--you, your family and your community suffer," you show the folly of both political parties and ideologies.
In particular, the legislature should not be funding higher education in the manner that it does. Vouchers for education at all levels makes marginally more economic sense.
My preference, though, would be to privatize higher education and free it of all legislative influence and control.
I would have preferred to send my eldest daughter to private university. I am -- more-or-less -- forced to send her to a public university because Ken Gordon and his brethren have decided that it is their job to tax me to fund higher education for other people's children whether those children deserve it or not. Of course, I get the benefit of other people's taxes; basically, my tax money being recycled to me. More to the point, my children and I would have benefited far more had I not been taxed in the first place.
The idea that the electorate would be better off if there were a Democrat majority in the Colorado legislature rather than a Republican one simply does not reflect truth. Neither a Democrat nor a Republican majority will make me or my community any better off. Roughly speaking, the only things that change are the bad things that happen to my community: right-wing political control or left-wing fiscal control.
Economically, the idea that government magically creates wealth that the legislature out of the goodness of its heart gives to the electorate is one of the reasons that I find the Republicans marginally better than the Democrats. As much as I despise the Republican right-wing ideology, I can live with it. Gutting TABOR will cause me to work even harder than I already do and thus deprive me of the few hours a month that I can devote to politics.
Perhaps, of course, that is the idea. Perhaps the Democrats wish that only those who are the beneficiaries of taxpayer largess (teachers, students, social security recipients, government workers in general) should have the free time to be involved in influencing government policy.
When the Republicans spend time on gays and God rather than on good government, I despair. When Senator Gordon spends enormous effort trying to gut TABOR, I despair.
So, Senator Gordon, if you want a Democrat majority in the legislature, learn the economic lessons that a majority of voters in this state have learned: economics is important. Change that one message and become a fiscal conservative and then the legislature is yours. Act as if the money you take from the taxpayers is their money to be taken only as a last resort rather than as a right of government, and then you can keep the legislature forever.
Understand that more than anything else the electorate simply wishes to be left alone and then, truly, you and your party will be in the political center with the gratitude of the voters.
Do this for me -- actually for us. Forward this email to your list. Let's get the word out.