Republocrats, Demopublicans

By Dave Kopel

Independent Thinking. KDEN Radio. AM 1340.September 25, 1990

I'm Dave Kopel, a Denver lawyer, and this is Independent Thinking. In civics class, schoolchildren are taught that we have two major political parties which take different sides of the issues. In Colorado today, that's not always true.

For example, Democrats are supposed to be pro-environment. Yet Monte Pascoe, former chair of the Democratic Party, is the architect of the worst environmental disaster of this decade. As head of the Denver Water Board, Pascoe wants to build Two Forks Dam and tear down the mountains -- all so that the developers can bring 200,000 more people into Jefferson County to live in plywood condominiums.

Republicans supposedly favor low taxes. Yet Republican Senator Al Meikeljohn leads the fight against a ballot initiative to require voter approval for tax increases. Meikeljohn warns that if the people can choose what level of taxation they want, public education will be destroyed.

Democrats are supposed to oppose "trickle-down" economics -- to reject the view that if the rich get richer, the wealth will trickle down to the little people.

Yet in Denver, Democrats like Mayor Peña and City Councilwoman Cathy Reynolds burdened the city with a gigantic tax giveaway to support luxury department stores.

Republicans are supposed to support the Right to Bear Arms. Yet the most powerful enemy of the Right to Bear Arms in Colorado is a Republican, Sheriff Pat Sullivan of Arapahoe County. He refuses to grant licensed, trained citizens a permit to carry a gun for self-defense. He abuses and misapplies federal law in order to harass gun collectors. And in 1989, he tried to scare the Legislature into banning semi-automatic firearms. His tactics were classic bait and switch. Trying to outlaw semi-automatics, he passed out photographs of automatics -- weapons that had nothing to do with his bill.

Does party affiliation matter? Not to the thieves who ran Silverado Savings. They passed out their loot to eager takers in both parties. Many of the state's fat-cat fundraisers work for Republicans one day, and Democrats the next.

Republocrats, Demopublicans, who can tell the difference? What matters these days is whether you're in or out. If you're in, you're for high taxes, state welfare for big business, and police powers unencumbered by the Constitution. If you're out, you can vote in an election, but too often the choice doesn't matter. You can change the radio station, but the song remains the same.

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