Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.
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On Tuesday night, as Republicans across Colorado watched local, state and federal election results mount in favor of the Democrats, it’s a safe bet more than a few card-carrying members of the Grand Old Party sought tearful solace in the company of Jim Beam, Jack Daniels and Johnnie Walker. Surprisingly, a close examination of local tally sheets provides indicia that more than a few who lean to the right politically may have bypassed the Three Wise Men in order to spend time with Mary Jane.
Specifically, in a number of historically conservative precincts in Routt County, voters who pulled the lever for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney apparently left the voting booth also having voted for Amendment 64. Combine that nugget with the fact that 63 percent of county voters – 69 percent in Steamboat Springs – gave their electoral seal of approval to legalizing marijuana by amending the Colorado constitution, and it seems likely that there is bipartisan support across Routt County, just as there is across Colorado, for allowing adults to buy pot the same way they buy booze so they can go home and smoke a bowl as lawfully as they can pour three fingers.
Perhaps those conservative precincts that contributed to the large percentage in favor of legalization prove that there are true limited-government conservatives in Colorado.
Perhaps those conservatives who voted for Romney while also voting to legalize marijuana understand that the bedrock American principle of federalism, as set forth in the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, must be defended even when the underlying cause may not be in keeping with their personal morality.
Perhaps there are social conservatives awakening to the reality that the Bill of Rights consistently must be used as a sword against the federal government to preserve the rights of states and individuals to determine — absent federal interference — the societal issues the framers of the constitution intentionally blocked from the purview of the federal government.
Most important, perhaps the bipartisan vote to legalize marijuana despite not-so-veiled threats by President Barack Obama’s administration to bring criminal charges against those who violate federal laws regarding marijuana is a sign there are conservatives who will defend states’ rights against the tyranny of the federal government in all circumstances — instead of treating states’ rights like a light bulb to turn on when it fits their morality and off when it doesn’t.
If that is the case, if even a small number of conservatives in Colorado are opening up to the reality that the defense of liberty can’t be a game of pick and choose but rather must be executed with steadfast allegiance to the pursuit of freedom from federal overreach, there may be a spark of synergy between conservatives and libertarians here in Colorado. And that could benefit these ideological cousins if they combine forces to combat the federal government on a wide-range of economic and social issues that should be removed from federal domination.
Unfortunately, while the electorate in Colorado demonstrated courage by standing up to the federal government in defense of the right of self-determination when it comes to the personal consumption of marijuana, it appears some of our state and local representatives may have less fortitude than those they profess to represent. From the pending passage of a meaningless moratorium on pot shops by the Steamboat Springs City Council to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s kowtowing to the Obama administration as he openly plays “Mother May I” with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, it seems some officials are prepared to tuck tail and run when called on to defend Coloradans and Colorado’s constitution actively.
Fortunately, as the implementation of Amendment 64 plays out in the next year, Coloradans will have ample opportunity to assess which state and local officials understand their duty to their constituents and then vote accordingly the next time the opportunity arises. When that opportunity does arise, don’t be surprised if conservatives and libertarians have bonded even more forcefully in pursuit of their common desire to reduce the role of the federal government in the lives of Coloradans while simultaneously increasing the freedom of all Americans.
To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.