As a recent opinion on the Times-Call website shows, writers can take any word and convert it into a mish-mush of distraction and speculation. It is the silly season where no one expects opposing candidates to give credit and praise to their opposite number. Regardless, I offer personal observation and experience to honor Senator Shaffer, a public servant who has indeed credited political opposites for their cooperation.
Brandon Shaffer truly works for the people. My admiration and respect for him grew ten-fold while watching him being interviewed on a major network newscast from Denver. The political reporter for the station asked him and then his opposite number, the minority leader, about results in the ongoing legislative session. Answers by the two leaders were telling.
Senator Shaffer was upbeat, positive about actual results being accomplished in cooperation with members from both sides of the aisle. He freely gave credit to the other party for their cooperation. The other guy not so much. In fact, if he’d been the only one interviewed, Coloradans would have been convinced it was time to move to Nebraska. Honestly, it was impossible for the man to acknowledge any progress even when news reports fully confirmed it.
But no one has to sell Brandon Shaffer’s candidacy for Congress to Longmont residents. We know how hard he worked representing us. We saw him frequently down at Abbo’s Pizza in town hall meetings reporting on the work in the legislature and always talking about meeting with senators from both parties, some even attended the same town hall meeting. His was the human face of state government for us.
My wife and I met Senator Shaffer and his family over coffee one morning. He and I had emailed a couple of times, swapping ideas on topics like civil discourse and education. After attending a couple of his town hall meetings, he invited us over. His reason was refreshing. “I need to get opinions and ideas from outside the bubble of Capitol Hill,” he said. My wife wanted to know how he could get anything done when the minority leader was always so negative.
We learned Senator Shaffer would meet with the minority leader before sessions to agree on an agenda—I can’t conceive of this tactic being used inside the Washington Beltway, but it would be refreshing. The result was a list of prioritized items that led to quick results based on negotiation and compromise. Tougher subjects where there was major disagreement were given more time for discussion, but they were not allowed to block all progress during the session. A by-product of this strategy is that one positive result leads to another and another.
As reported in the Longmont Times-Call August 26 (see “Shaffer faces uphill battle” on page A3) Senator Shaffer’s campaign for Congress “…hinges entirely on an anti-incumbent mood.” This strategy seems logical since polls show 90% of voters don’t like what Congress has failed to do.
Our incumbent 4th CD Representative joined with his Republican Party colleagues in signing a pledge authored by lobbyist Grover Norquist. The pledge sounds simple on the surface as it promises not to raise taxes. However, the fiscal cliff we face in January could have been avoided with the passage of a compromise package that would have approved recommendations by the joint committee on the budget deficit. But, since the agreement included a tax increase as part of the package, the Norquist minions backed out of the deal.
I felt certain that my congressional representative had sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution by representing me. The simple fact is every government worker in the Congress and the White House works for us. They do not work for Grover Norquist. Boy Scouts learn this when they earn a citizenship merit badge.
There should be outrage by more than that 90%. I will show mine by voting for Senator Brandon Shaffer.
Bill Ellis is a local author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org