Opinion: Repubican candidates offer stale ideas at Club 20 debates | PostIndependent.com

Opinion: Repubican candidates offer stale ideas at Club 20 debates

Robyn Parker
Free Press Opinion Columnist

At Club 20‘s candidate forum last weekend, Democrats shared their visions and commitment to improving the lives of their Colorado constituents. They emphasized the importance of putting aside political differences and working together to improve the economy and build stronger communities.

Republican candidates, on the other hand, answered most questions with some variation of “Drill, baby, drill” and proffered divisive comments about President Obama and citizens with whom they disagree.

Yeulin Willett, candidate for Colorado House District 54, shared a quotation from former Colorado Congressman Wayne Aspinall, in which Aspinall describes environmentalists as “overindulged zealots to whom balance means nothing.”

After mentioning 50 or so times that he’s a lawyer and mocking environmentalists and people who aren’t lawyers, Willett argued that he’s the man to represent Mesa County because we “need a lawyer to fight environmentalists.”

The rhetoric the Republican candidates recited was basically all the same except that non-lawyers replaced Willett’s “I’m a lawyer” statements with “Obama is bad.” To their deregulation mantra, House District 55 candidate Dan Thurlow added a specific bit about the trucking industry.

All agreed that regulations should be lifted for all extractive industries, specifically coal, oil and gas. Time constraints of the debates did not allow candidates to explain which regulations they would cut.

It’s unclear whether Republican priorities for deregulation relate to labor or environmental issues. Do Republicans plan to eliminate safety standards, labor laws, or unemployment insurance? Will they allow industries to dump hazardous waste into our water supplies or to produce that hazardous waste next to schools and neighborhoods?

Regulations aside, Republicans all agreed that maximum extraction as quickly as possible should be a priority in Colorado. Deregulation and extraction were even the answers to many seemingly unrelated questions. When asked how he would help older people prepare for retirement, Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez responded that he would “lift all energy resources in Colorado.”

One would think that with the business and legal background of that group of candidates, at least one of them would understand supply and demand. When we produce energy faster than we can use it, we sell it to China. They may not know anything about economics, but these candidates most definitely know it’s a lie to say that maximizing the extraction of fossil fuels has anything to do with energy independence.

The only difference of opinion among Republicans at the Club 20 debates was in response to a question about federal land management. U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner seemed to think federal land management is OK. However, his bumbling response to that question after his perfectly polished answers to everything else suggests that he hadn’t read the GOP memo about the evils of BLM.

Like Gardner, Colorado Senate candidate Ray Scott doesn’t seem big on learning facts or memorizing talking points. He admitted that as our State Representative, he didn’t read the bills presented to him. Then, on the subject of gun regulation, the blank look on his face suggested that he really has no idea regulation is mentioned in the Second Amendment.

With Scott’s reliance on deception and redirection, he took the condescending good ol’ boy versus pretty lil’ lady approach. When he didn’t understand Democrat Claudette Konola’s response to the question of local control of federal lands, he avoided the subject by saying, “I don’t think you answered the question, Claudette,” and gave his speaking time to her.

Willett argued that, of course, we should take control of federal lands but “we don’t need to go Cliven Bundy — all respect due.” It’s unclear whether he meant respect is due to the rancher who refuses to pay Americans the million dollars he owes us or to the open-carry groups whose members held their guns against citizens whom we hired to manage our public lands.

The failures of Ray Scott, Cory Gardner, and Scott Tipton as our representatives thus far demonstrate that it’s time for a change, yet as we heard at the Club 20 debates, the new candidates stand for more of the same old thing. What logic could there be in that?

A fourth generation Coloradan, GJ Free Press columnist Robyn Parker is the former host of the progressive community radio show, Grand Valley Live. She is a stay-at-home mom, active community volunteer and board member for local environmental and social justice organizations. Robyn may be reached at gjrobyn@gmail.com.

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