Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

October 1996


Published in Great Plains Research 6:2 (Fall 1996). Copyright © 1996 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


In 1992, Douglas Bruce, a non-practicing lawyer and landlord from Colorado Springs, Colorado, successfully "mobilized" popular support for Amendment 1, a ballot initiative that has restricted the taxing and spending powers of state and local governments in Colorado. For most Coloradans, "Douglas Bruce" is now a household name. Using a historical perspective to examine the role Bruce played in advancing Amendment 1, this study offers the analytic concepts of faux populism, populist entrepreneurs, and the public mood. Faux populism is the transposition of an ill-defined, but tangible public mood into a ready-made ballot initiative that is offered to the people by a populist entrepreneur. The primary question driving this inquiry is: How did Douglas Bruce successfully tap the widespread, but ambiguous animosity held by many Coloradans towards government and taxes, and turn it into his particular cause of limiting the taxing and spending powers of state and local governments?