November 29 2004, 8:31 PM
Today's Rocky Mountain News featured what has to be considered a puff piece celebrating the Independence Institute, the right-wing "think tank" based in Golden that produced Rep. Tom Tancredo and anti-RTD crusader Jon Caldara. The article touts the Institute's status as one of the original state level conservative organizations and highlights its positions on issues like "school choice" and privatization -- with scarcely a mention of the fact that voters rejected the Independence Institute's stances on practically every issue this fall. Not only did metro-area voters overwhelmingly approve the FasTracks initiative, which was supported by business groups but vehemently opposed by the supposedly pro-business Institute, they also passed a clean-energy initiative that is anathema to Independence Institute supporters and tossed out the GOP state legislative majority that had grown highly ideological and unwilling to compromise under Institute founder, and soon-t0-be-ex State Senate president, John Andrews. The News' story seems strangely out of date in view of the Independence Institute's recent failures. Only mentioned in passing in the article is the rise of the Big Horn Policy Center and the Bell Foundation, new state-level progressive think tanks that experienced much greater success at the ballot box this year than did their better funded conservative rivals. These organizations appear poised to repeat what the Independence Institute once did, but on the opposite side of the political spectrum -- show that a state level think tank can promote change at the state level. But it will probably be a long time before either of those groups finds itself the focus of a piece like the one the News ran today.