The Rationale of “Snowball’s Chance” Bills

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Dominic Dezzutti By Dominic Dezzutti
CBSDenver.com Blogger
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As a natural born optimist, I understand the value of taking a chance on a longshot. However, even the most optimistic among us must understand when the likelihood of something happening is the same as a snowball’s chance in hell.

At first blush, some of the bills being proposed by Republicans this week in the state legislature may make it look like there are many blind optimists in the GOP.

Even though the two recalls and one resignation of three state senators have shrunk the Democratic majority in the State Senate to one vote, the reality is that only the most bi-partisan of GOP bills will have a chance of moving forward this year.

That’s why looking at a couple of bills proposed this week by GOP lawmakers may cause some to wonder why on Earth would they even be proposed in the first place.

First, Republican lawmakers presented a bill that would have repealed the renewable energy mandates for rural areas in Colorado that became law last year. The bill was presented in committee and quickly killed on a party vote, 3-2.

Then, State Rep. Steve Humphrey presented a bill that would make abortion a class three felony. While that bill has yet to officially die in committee, it most certainly will.

On one hand, offering these bills may seem like a fool’s errand because even a student in a high school civics class would understand that the current political environment means that these bills will never see the light of day.

But on the other hand, perhaps a student of Niccolo Machiavelli would understand that the presentation of these bills have nothing to do with the odds of them passing. That might be very frustrating for those who are justifiably cynical about politics, but it’s the truth.

These bills, and who supported or didn’t support them before they met their timely deaths, will become the fodder for political propaganda of all sorts in just a few months. And while some of that may be aimed at Democrats, a good deal of that propaganda may be focused on fellow Republicans.

The bill regarding abortion is of particular interest for Republicans looking to bolster social conservative resumes. They need to be able to tell their constituencies that they are working to abolish abortion and protect life and saying that they were part of the effort to make it a class three felony can make that point on a bumper sticker.

What can’t be told on a bumper sticker is that if Republicans truly wanted to make any progress on abortion issues, actual hard work and compromise on myriad issues would need to happen. But that lengthy explanation of reality isn’t what is important right now.

These “snowball” bills are strictly for show and the gimmick works mainly because so few voters are paying attention right now. Without anyone to really check on the reality of the situation, it’s fairly easy for politicians to look like strong advocates in October, despite the only real show of support being nothing more than a Quixotic tilt at a windmill in January.

This isn’t just a Republican game; Democrats do it when they are in the complete minority as well. But the point is that the trick only exists because of how we act as voters.

Remember, the reality of politics is the same as the free market, if the strategy didn’t work, it wouldn’t exist.

So really, the blind optimists here are we, the voters. As long as we reward candidates who claim to do something about issues by offering bills that have no shot, then the joke is on us.

Dominic Dezzutti’s Latest Blog Entries

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here usually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.

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