Rocky Mountain Right Reels As Public Rejects GOP's Outdated & Elitist Rhetoric
Is the much-touted conservative economic revolt over in the Intermountain West? That's a question that undoubtedly has people like Republican presidential operatives and national anti-tax activist Grover Norquist worried - especially with a spate of evidence that suggests a whole new politics is emerging out here, and I'm not just talking about the region being dominated by Democratic governors (that is at least as much a symptom of the underlying phenomenon as it is the phenomenon itself).
Matt Singer over at Left in the West has a telling post up about new public opinion data from Montana, one of the central fronts in the conservative economic revolt for the last two decades. Some history before we get to the numbers: Montana was once a longtime and reliable Democratic state, but became a Republican stronghold thanks to the Reagan-inspired economic revolt which brought to prominence people like governor-turned-RNC-chair-turned-Enron-lobbyist Marc Racicot, since-unelected-and-humiliated Sen. Conrad Burns (R), and Burns' political guru/Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams (known to many of us who have worked against him as simply "Dickwad").
Now, however, a new poll from Lee Newspapers suggests that revolt is over. Wide majorities in Montana approve of Gov. Brian Schweitzer's (D) progressive tax rebate and spending plans, just passed by Democrats in the legislature. Even more tellingly, a plurality of Republicans in the state approve of what happened as well.
Something similar seems to be happening here in Colorado, the home of TABOR, that icon of the right's economic revolt. Voters, as we all know, voted to temporarily suspend TABOR in 2005, and now even one of the state's most conservative voices - the editorial page of the Rocky Mountain News - seems to be grasping that massive budget cuts to state services are destructive. In a strong editorial today that is reprinted in the Sunday Denver Post as well, the paper applauds Gov. Bill Ritter's (D) efforts to better fund the state's motor vehicle division, citing long lines and wait times for the most basic of state services. Meanwhile, when a right-wing city councilor in Aurora announced plans to push the right's tired "right to work" initiative aimed at destroying organized labor, a statewide poll quickly showed that beyond liking the happy sounding misnomer "right to work," Colorado is actually quite hostile to what this conservative ploy actually does. "Opposition to the initiative is strong among Democrats," note the pollsters. "However, even a majority of unaffiliated voters oppose the measure."
Clearly, the public's rejection of the right's economic class warfare on behalf of the wealthy and subsequent waning of the conservative economic revolt as an effective political weapon has had major consequences for both political parties, and has created opportunities for a whole new kind of progressive politics.