Guest Columns


Useful idiots — and how not to be one

The term “useful idiots” supposedly was coined by Soviet dictator Vladimir Ilyich Lenin to describe Western intellectual idealists persuaded to adopt communism.

According to, useful idiots are the voting segment that “allows itself to fall for the same old word games and mind manipulation.”

From 5 million Coloradans, 65 House and 35 Senate members emerge to serve in the State Legislature. They take an oath to support the Colorado and U.S. Constitutions. The oath presumes familiarity with, understanding of and determination to honor those documents.

Nevertheless, many lawmakers are “useful idiots.” So are voters who have little familiarity with, interest in or knowledge of those documents, which are designed to control the government, not the people.

The Legislature meets for 120 days, presumably creating legislation to make Colorado a better place. However, officeholders’ limited political, economic, business, financial, constitutional and governmental acumen put them at the mercy of long-term, well-paid professionals who know how to manipulate people, opinions, legislative bills and votes.

Soon, many of these “useful idiots” are persuaded to sponsor, sign on to, or support bills that on their face violate their oath of office, the Constitution and even their own personal preferences were they not in elected office.

Examples of the Useful Idiot Dodge, UID, are abundant. Colorado’s executive, legislative and judicial branches frequently misapply, misinterpret or ignore the Constitution when it threatens their agendas.

Good job, “useful idiots,” on the following:

• “FASTER” legislation politically morphed an in-fact tax increase into a redefined automobile fee increase to obtain more revenue and to avoid submitting it to the electorate in compliance with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. The General Assembly could have referred a ballot issue to increase the gasoline tax. Instead, they made an end-run around TABOR, depriving taxpayers of their “constitutionally guaranteed” power to accept or reject any tax increase.

• The General Assembly enacted a mill levy freeze to increase tax revenue to the schools, giving the General Fund more money to spend, again increasing taxes without a vote of the people. This UID for a billion dollars over the next 10 years was okayed by Colorado’s Supreme Court!

• Then came the assault on the 1992 Bird-Arveschoug 6 percent General Fund growth limit, conservatively interpreted and highly respected for 17 years, now plundered to allow for easier, less-confined state spending.

William Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar, “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” That’s the tragic tale of today’s “useful idiots.” While in office, they allow themselves to be conned into legislative actions that are a long-term anathema to the founders and freedom documents, their children and unborn, unrepresented generations in the future would want. But once in, laws stay.

Good job, “useful idiots.”

But legislators and citizens don’t have to be “useful idiots.” They can realize that the founders created a system of limited government and self-governing people and that government exists to protect the peoples’ rights and property.

When the people put in place an amendment in the Colorado Constitution, legislators are obligated to respect it and abide by it.

Inconvenient, frustrating, difficult? Deal with it.

Six steps to avoid becoming or being a “useful idiot” elected official or citizen:

1. Read, understand, know, preserve and protect America’s and Colorado’s freedom documents: the Declaration of Independence, Constitutions and their incredibly important Bills of Rights.

Lesson: Master the basics, the fundamentals of a successful society.

2. Build your knowledge and understanding of history’s fundamentals. “Who knows only his own generation remains always a child,” is chiseled on a building at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Lesson: Grow up. Learn history, particularly U.S. history.

3. Read. Watch. Listen. Think. Understand.

Lesson: Get and stay informed.

4. Quit being a civics dropout, constitutional illiterate, wayward elected official or citizen slug.

Lesson: Become aware, interested, informed, concerned, involved and active in what is going on.

5. Share your information, knowledge and concern. America’s educational system leaves too much out. Too many Americans are “dumbed down, numbed up, tuned out and turned off.”

Lesson: Share true personal freedom and political liberty.

6. Seeing a “useful idiot” committing a UID, pounce on it.

Lesson: It’s up to you. It’s all up to you.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis said, “The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men [and women] of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”

Arvada resident and Independence Institute senior fellow Fred Holden is the author of “Total Power of One in America: Discover What You Need to Know, Why and How to Be a More Powerful Person and Citizen.”