Rocky Mountain Heist, directed by Jason Killian Meath. Written by Jason Killian Meath and Michelle Malkin. Distributed by Citizens United, 2014. Unrated. Running time: 40 minutes.
Rocky Mountain Heist tells the story of a conspiracy—one that happens to be real. Specifically, as its opening segment relates, it is “the story of three multimillionaires and a billionaire . . . pushing a top-down, vindictive agenda” in Colorado to oust Republicans and install Democrats in state government. “This is how a tiny club of secretive elites assumed control over a state of five million people” to implement a “radical, far-left agenda.”1
This “secretive elite,” or the “gang of four,” as it is sometimes called, consists of Congressman Jared Polis, who made his millions selling Internet businesses; Tim Gill, creator of Quark design software; Rutt Bridges, who wrote software for energy exploration; and Pat Stryker, heir to the Stryker medical technology corporation.
This group helped organize and finance a slew of leftist organizations in the state to promote “progressive” policies and candidates and to defeat conservative ones. And it was remarkably successful, helping to shift control of state government and of several congressional seats to Democrats. Over the past few years, left-leaning politicians in state government have passed legislation to regulate firearms more severely, to require more (and more expensive) “renewable” energy, to raise various taxes and fees, and to allow voter registration on election day (as prominent examples).
So successful was this so-called “Colorado model” for leftist political activism that it inspired similar efforts elsewhere, including in Texas and Virginia.
The documentary, produced by Citizens United (the group at issue in the Supreme Court’s decision of the name) and narrated by Michelle Malkin, presents some of the relevant history behind the gang of four’s political success. However, the documentary also ignores much of the relevant history, particularly how Republicans alienated many voters by advocating abortion bans, antigay legislation, and more. In short, Colorado voters turned against Republicans not primarily because of Democrats, but because of Republicans.
One of the opening lines of the film illustrates the problem. It shows Gill, who is gay, saying, “The Republican Party is controlled by a bunch of bigots. The only way the bigots are going to learn is if we take their power away from them.” The film uses this line to try to make Gill out to be irrationally vindictive. The problem with the film’s narrative is that the Republican Party in Colorado was, in fact, controlled largely by a bunch of bigots. For example, Colorado Republicans long opposed recognition of same-sex marriage and even civil unions. A few years ago, one independent group distributed a mailer attacking a Republican state senator for supporting civil unions; the ad featured two men kissing.2 Just this year Republicans ran a candidate for statehouse who called Polis (who is also gay) a sodomite and who claims to have exorcized lesbian demons.3 Is it any wonder that many voters run screaming to support the Democrats?
It’s hardly a surprise that, after Gill and Polis witnessed Republicans routinely demonize them for their sexual preference and deny them equal treatment under the law, they would support Democrats over Republicans.
Gill’s strategy to take the political power from the bigots seems largely to have worked. Alexander Hornaday, vice president of Colorado Log Cabin Republicans—a group of gay conservatives—told the Denver Post, “Increasingly, the [Republican] party is moving toward being accepting and being proponents of gay rights.”4
Then there is the effort by some Colorado Republicans to outlaw all abortions. This year Colorado voters faced a so-called “personhood” measure on the ballot, intended to ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest, ban forms of birth control that might harm an embryo, ban in vitro fertility treatments that involve the destruction of embryos, and more.5 Several of the Republicans interviewed in Rocky Mountain Heist have expressed support for “personhood,” and the 2014 candidates for governor and U.S. Senate supported “personhood” before backing away from it.6
Add to this list such things as Republican opposition to legal marijuana even for medical purposes (although some Republicans, including Malkin, support medical marijuana) and Republican opposition to open immigration, and it is no surprise that Colorado voters turned to Democrats in large numbers.
Republican foibles notwithstanding, the gang of four’s tactics may become a victim of their own success. As Rocky Mountain Heist discusses, many voters reacted angrily to Democrat gun-control legislation—voters even recalled two Democrat legislators over the matter.7 Many voters also remain angry about Democrat tax hikes, energy mandates, and loose voting rules that arguably enable voter fraud.
Another likely effect of recent Democrat successes—one not discussed by the documentary—is a reformed Republican party more attuned to younger voters and liberty-minded voters, a party that focuses on economic liberty rather than on demonizing gays and immigrants or banning abortion. For that, Colorado Republicans should thank the gang of four. That group helped shove Colorado’s Republican Party, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.
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1. Newsmax put the complete documentary at http://www.newsmax.com/Manage/Videos/VideoGallery/Rocky-Mountain-Heist/; the official web page is http://rockymountainheist.com.
2. Lynn Bartels, “Colorado Gun Lobbyist Says Group Not Connected to Gay Couple’s Suit,” Denver Post, February 23, 2013, http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_22650330/colorado-gun-lobbyist-says-group-not-connected-gay.
3. Ari Armstrong, “The Klingenschmitt Conundrum: Why Colorado Republicans Keep Losing Big Races,” AriArmstrong.com, August 25, 2014, http://ariarmstrong.com/2014/08/the-klingenschmitt-conundrum-why-colorado-republicans-keep-losing-big-races/.
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4. Jon Murray, “Gay Marriage: Colorado Republicans, Once Seizing It as Issue, Now Shrug,” Denver Post, October 31, 2014, http://www.denverpost.com/election2014/ci_26837378/gay-marriage-colo-republicans-once-seizing-it-issue.
5. Diana Hsieh and Ari Armstrong, “The ‘Personhood’ Movement Versus Individual Rights,” Coalition for Secular Government, October 7, 2014, http://www.seculargovernment.us/a67.shtml.
6. Ari Armstrong, “How Republican Libby Szabo Lost My Vote,” AriArmstrong.com, September 26, 2008, http://ariarmstrong.com/2008/09/how-republican-libby-szabo-lost-my-vote/; Ari Armstrong, “Why I Cannot Vote for ‘Personhood’ Supporter Laura Woods,” AriArmstrong.com, October 7, 2014, http://ariarmstrong.com/2014/10/why-i-cannot-vote-for-personhood-supporter-laura-woods/; Ari Armstrong, “Why I’ll (Probably) Vote Straight Republican This Year,” AriArmstrong.com, September 21, 2014, http://ariarmstrong.com/2014/09/why-ill-probably-vote-straight-republican-this-year/.
7. See Ari Armstrong, “Colorado Recalls about More than Just Guns,” Complete Colorado, September 11, 2013, http://completecolorado.com/pagetwo/2013/09/11/colorado-recalls-about-more-than-just-guns/.