In the past I’ve oft droned on about my particular pet peeve in political leaders, voters, and, well, everyone — hypocrisy. I admire people with principled positions, even when I disagree, but I have a hard time respecting people whose morals and ethical standards seem to flutter in the wind, reversing course when required to pursue some specific political agenda. It really bugs me.
I thought of that today when I read the Colorado Politics story outlining several groups that are working toward a goal of recalling Gov. Jared Polis. You know him, he’s the duly elected governor of our fair state. He got more votes, you see, than did his opponent, and the will of the people, well, you see where I’m going.
So why are several different groups fighting over the how and the where of a recall effort? Not only did Polis win by more than 10 percent, it’s actually legally too early for a recall, given that the governor has not been in office for six months yet. So one may presume that starting on July 8, these groups will start the scramble to kick him out of the Governor’s Mansion (I mean that metaphorically; Polis doesn’t actually live in the mansion, which isn’t that unusual) by gathering the needed 631,266 valid signatures. But they are chomping at the bit to get started in their work to undo an election.
You may recall, especially after the election of President George W. Bush and of President Trump, that those on the right often demanded these leaders be respected, and we were often reminded that “elections have consequences.” The GOPers pointed out that a majority of voters (well, in Bush’s case, not so much Trump) had picked whom they wished elected, and we should respect the results of the election.
Never mind, apparently.
These folks on the right that are pushing for a recall have forgotten the lectures they gave folks like me back in 2000 and 2016. I’ve spent a good bit of time trying to figure out how otherwise smart folks, with whom I disagree on policy, can go around shouting “recall!” at the top of their lungs. And then I remembered something a person told me during my own failed election for Congress back in 2008. Modern Republicans (and I think especially those who opposed Trump during the primary season as vile and immoral) have crafted a political landscape where getting and holding power is more important than principles. These GOPers, my friend said, live on the “Three A’s of Republican Politics”: Anger, Apathy, and Amnesia.
All three of these principles act together to create a world in which Republican leaders, likely including the folks behind the recalls, work to generate anger (cough…Trump’s “lock her up” …cough) in the voters. Once agitated, they apply selective amnesia and apathy. For example, they squawk about Hillary’s emails, while failing to recall Trump’s taxes. They don’t remember that Hillary spent 11 hours facing congressional questions while Trump has refused to talk to Mueller. These folks, such as, well, basically every Republican U.S. senator, have forgotten what they said under Obama about presidential power, and declare that even if they do remember (like when video surfaces of them saying it) they play the apathy card, and assert that none of that matters.
There are many, many more examples, but my mean old editor has me on a word limit (Ed: hey, that hurt my feelings…). The good people of Colorado voted for change in 2018. They swept from office, by the legal and deeply American tradition of the ballot box, all the GOP folks who held statewide offices, and gave both Houses of the legislature solid blue majorities. Now some sore losers from the GOP side are insisting that we need to undo the will of the people, undo the duly elected office holders, and rip them from office long before they have finished the terms they were elected for. And yet, something tells me that not too many of those folks think Trump should be impeached. Apathy much?
The three A’s is a very useful framework to explain today’s Republican party, both nationally and here in Colorado. They want the voters angry, but they want them to forget at whom they should really be angry and inject “who cares” apathy on the remaining issues. It’s a pity that this level of hypocrisy has become so dominant in the Republicans. They are mostly good folks. But the three A’s have blinded far too many. So, here’s a reminder: elections have consequences.
Hal Bidlack is a retired professor of political science and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who taught more than 17 years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.