If the slick end-of-year fundraising package from the Independence Institute that recently arrived on my desk is any guide, the Colorado conservative establishment has quietly declared Douglas Bruce a non-person.
Some may recall the Stalinist purges of the 1920s and '30s, when once-prominent party leaders were not just disgraced and imprisoned, but purged from history. Their names were stricken from the history books, photographs were doctored to remove their images, to mention their names was to court arrest, and others assumed credit for their productive work — if any!
The Independence Institute, a right-leaning think tank headquartered in Golden, spared no expense in this year’s attempt to extract a few bucks from the true believers. As you’d expect, a pleading letter from Jon Caldara, the Institute’s combative, capable and surprisingly likeable boss, features the usual fulsome tropes of the extreme right. The 11-page missive warns readers against “Radical policies that take away our freedom and opportunity … leading us right down the pathway to Socialism.” Caldara invites the marks to “join me and thousands of other patriots across the state to stand up today and fight back against the liberal tax-and-spend crowd!”
Also, he continues, who better to lead the fight than the Independence Institute? And here’s the proof.
“One of our most important victories to date was our successful push in 1992 to amend Colorado’s Constitution with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, otherwise known as TABOR.”
Um, er … Mr. Caldara, I was there. TABOR was conceived, written, named, and carried to ultimate victory by one man — Douglas Bruce. It was his relentless energy, his refusal to surrender or compromise, his singular focus on the task at hand that won the day. I know, because I fought him every step of the way. Bruce is to TABOR what Elway was to the Broncos, what Churchill was to the Battle of Britain, what Osama bin Laden was to al Qaeda. No Bruce, no TABOR — it’s as simple as that.
But now that Mr. Bruce has been convicted of tax evasion, his once-devoted followers at the Independence Institute have not only abandoned him, but purged him. Want more proof? Here’s a bio of one of the their staff members, Penn Pfiffner, a former state representative now chiefly remembered for having three ‘f’s” in his last name.
“Penn Pfiffner is a former state representative, having served in the Colorado legislature from 1993 through 2000. He was an early leader and proponent of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR), serving as Regional Coordinator in the 1986 effort, and serving on the TABOR Committee in subsequent years.” Nope, no mention of the Dougster — nor is his name mentioned anywhere on the Institute’s website.
Alas, poor Doug! I know how you feel — my greatest achievements, such as inventing the internet and saving the Cheyenne Building, have been usurped by a couple of attention-grabbing politicians, Al Gore and John Hickenlooper. But that’s OK. Just as Trotsky and Bukharin were eventually recognized as revolutionary titans, so too will future historians recognize our greatness.
We just won’t be around to read about it.