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Green Shoots: Rundown of Ballot Measure Results and What They Mean for the GOP

Green Shoots: Rundown of Ballot Measure Results and What They Mean for the GOP

Statist Democrats may have dominated election night, but there are a few races and ballot measures to cheer the libertarian conservative heart.

Michigan rejected a constitutional amendment on collective bargaining. This measure would have enshrined public and private collective bargaining in the state constitution while prohibiting any legislation even loosely identified as “right to work”; a huge and costly loss for the unions.

Washington and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana. This sets up a direct challenge to federal drug laws but won’t go into effect until the states figure out how to sell and regulate it. Given my experience with Washington’s state-run liquor board, the stuff will be overpriced, poorly marketed and inconvenient. Leave it to Olympia to make getting high too much of a hassle.

Massachusetts approved medical marijuana while Montana largely banned it, and Arkansas rejected it by a narrow margin. Montana had previously passed medical marijuana, but this initiative rolls back those reforms while the Massachusetts measure will help some folks forget that they just elected Elizabeth Warren to the senate. Overall the drug war is slowly, but steadily marching into the oblivion. The sooner the Republican Party embraces reform, the sooner they can start making inroads to the youth vote and the Mountain West again.

California rejected anti-science GMO (genetically-modified food) labeling and a broad-based tax increase. Unfortunately a class warfare tax was passed to fund teacher’s unions, err, I mean education. Californians also agreed that the state should keep performing judicial murders in the name of justice while simultaneously relaxing the three strikes law. If you can explain Californians...

Washington, Maine, and Maryland approved gay marriage while Minnesota rejects a constitutional amendment to define marriage. This battle is over. Move on, GOP.

Constitutional right to hunt and fish approved in Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Wyoming. The hunting ban movement is gaining traction around the world. It is a good thing that states are pushing back.

Montana and Alabama asserted a state right not to be forced to buy health insurance, while Florida rejected a similar measure. This too sets up more conflict with the feds. Missouri voted against setting up health exchanges for Obamacare, but even supporters admit it just means the feds will do it for them.

Vitriolic militarist Allen West lost in Florida while pro-peace libertarian Republicans won seats in Kentucky and Michigan including the seat of former presidential candidate Thad McCotter. Thomas Masse and Kerry Bentivolio will join Justin Amash as they try to fill the shoes of the now retired Congressman Ron Paul.

Overall, the Libertarian Party had its best showing in a presidential election ever, earning 1% of the popular vote or 1.2 million votes. They’re still a dead end obviously, but this relative strength speaks to the dissatisfaction many feel towards the GOP.

Clearly the Republican Party has been rejected by a majority of Americans just as they have in every presidential race post-1988 except 2004 when the same incumbent advantage carried George W. Bush to re-election by a comparable margin.

The wholesale repudiation of the GOP establishment represents the best opportunity yet for the fiscally conservative, socially tolerant, militarily restrained wing of the Party to assert itself and offer a new direction that speaks to the American people’s desire for responsible tax and spending policies while rejecting the culture war dynamics that cost Republicans gains around the country especially among young voters, women, and Latinos.

Polls indicate that 1/3 of American generally hold fiscally conservative, socially tolerant views. This is the new middle in American politics. Until Republicans accept that religious dogma no longer makes for political success or good public policy, the sooner they can start winning again.

But perhaps the best outcome of last night is a continuation of divided government. For all of Barack Obama’s ambitions, there is still a significant restraint on his ability to enact his socialist vision, the United States House of Representatives, fifty state governments, many of which are controlled by the opposition, and populations willing to go there own way on a host of issues regardless of how the feds may feel about it.

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