Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Principle vs. Politics in El Paso County, Colorado

I've always been one to stand on principle rather than politics, which is why I'm taking a very dim view of what's shaping up in El Paso county, CO at the moment.

In the Colorado House of Representatives, the state is mulling adopting Health Insurance Exchanges in anticipation of the arrival of Obamacare later in the year.

Republican Majority Leader Amy Stephens is campaigning hard for the GOP majority to pass this measure; but the lengths she's gone to have violated some fundamental democratic principles.

Realizing that there was considerable opposition to the bill amongst Republicans in the state (many of whom consider it a pre-emptive adoption of so-called Obamacare) Representative Stephens aggressively tried to silence dissent with resolutions that forced party members to "toe the line" despite their opposition.

One such example is in El Paso County – where Stephen's supporters introduced a last-minute amendment to an Executive Committee Meeting agenda that forbid party officers from "publicly opposing" elected Republicans – and, more significantly, their policies.

Violations of this resolution included posting on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and online forums – or even arguing against an elected representative's policies in front of a "large audience" or as part of a "large group."

This insidious little resolution essentially forces all officials in the El Paso Country GOP to obediently, unquestioningly and blindly support anything and everything elected Republicans push for; even if it flies in the face of every political principle they have.

Which, oddly enough, is exactly how many members of the El Paso Country GOP feel about Representative Stephen's bill to introduce health insurance exchanges – what's become known as so-called "AmyCare"

Now, I personally support Stephen's measure (after all, health insurance exchanges were originally a Republican invention and even touted as party policy until a few years ago) but I don't support the way Stephens has gone about trying to implement it.

This is one of those matters in which I stand on principle rather than politics – and my principles reject Representative Stephen's dictatorial directive.

This kind of political leadership smacks of everything I detest about European politics (and the way the Democratic party is run.) Amongst such parties, it seems like a "political elite" make the decisions because the rest of the party, and the voters as a whole, can't be trusted with such "important decisions."

It seems Representative Stephens, and the sycophants who enable her, share that disdain for democracy. So much is clear from her dismissal of those who opposed AmyCare: She called them nothing but a few "libertarians and anarchists."

But they're not anarchists, and they're certainly not few in number. In fact, Stephens is pushing an agenda that is clearly in opposition to the wishes of a significant number of her constituents.

But more worrying than Representative Stephen's behavior is that fact that it might only be the tip of the iceberg. An anonymous email sent by a mysterious "Henri Ducard" (the name of the man who trained Batman in the art of crime fighting) revealed that corruption and abuse ran much deeper through El Paso's Republican party than Amy Stephen's fascist resolutions.

Ducard accused the chairman of the El Paso Republicans, Eli Bremer, of organizing closed-door fundraisers, giving friends and cronies well-paid positions in the party and even selling access to GOP celebrities in exchange for power and influence. It seems like the political elite of the El Paso County GOP are trying to turn it into a microcosm of the worst of Washington's political excess.

The problem is that the Republicans they've disenfranchised - the so-called "libertarians and anarchists" - aren't going to let this situation continue for much longer. As one wise pundit said, this situation is a battle for the "heart and soul" of the GOP.

Is it a battle they can win? And can they do so in time for the 2012 elections?

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