John Hickenlooper: Call Me Anything, Just Don't Call Me a Capitalist

Former Colorado Governor and current 2020 Democratic presidential nomination candidate John Hickenlooper wants you to know he’s NOT a capitalist.

Democrats have now pointed their guns at capitalists. They regard capitalism as shameful and consider the pursuit of profit as somehow crass. We saw AOC characterize capitalism as ‘irredeemable’ in her remarks at the SXSW festival. You can call a Democrat almost anything else, just don’t call them a capitalist.


Hickenlooper recently appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to discuss his candidacy. Although I don’t want to see him become the next US president, he has an interesting and admirable life story. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1980 with an M.S. degree in geology and began working for Buckhorn Petroleum in Colorado. During a slowdown in the local oil industry, Hickenlooper was laid off.

He and a group of friends opened the Wynkoop Brewing Company in 1988, which turned out to be a highly profitable enterprise. From there, he served two terms as the mayor of Denver and he ultimately won the governorship in 2010.

As Governor, he was able to turn around Colorado’s sagging economy. With assistance from Linked In and a $25.8 million grant from Microsoft, Hickenlooper initiated an extremely successful jobs program, which has now been adopted by twenty other states. When he left office in 2018, Colorado’s economy was ranked #1 by US News.

Now, call me crazy, but his professional history indicates that Hickenlooper is a capitalist, one who has benefited from capitalism.

His wife, Robin Pringle Hickenlooper, is also a capitalist. She is a business school graduate and currently serves as the vice president of corporate development for Liberty Media, “where she identifies investment opportunities in media and e-commerce companies and helps guide the company’s broad portfolio.”


Yet, during his interview on MSNBC, host Joe Scarborough asked him three times if he would call himself a capitalist. Hickenlooper’s attempts to avoid the label were comical. (The relevant segment starts at 2:45 in the video above.)

Scarborough: You were certainly a doer when it came to business. What you talked about sounds like the American dream as far as business goes and wow, an advertisement for American capitalism. Are you concerned about some factions of your party embracing socialism?

Hickenlooper:  Well, I think…the Democratic party has a big tent. And that’s one of the things I’ve always loved about the Democratic party… (discusses getting stuff done)

Scarborough: Governor, would you call yourself a proud capitalist?

Hickenlooper: Well, you know, the labels, I’m not sure any of them fit. But I do believe that, you know, the ability to look at – climate change…(goes off on tangent about methane gas.)

Scarborough: Right, let me ask you, just, I’ll break it down even more. Do you consider yourself a capitalist?

Hickenlooper: (discusses early days of Wynkoop Brewing Company) But makes a point to say he worked on 42 boards and committees of non-profits in a 12-year period.

Scarborough: Do you consider yourself a capitalist and does capitalism work?

Hickenlooper: Well, I think, I don’t look at myself with a label… (Starts discusses that capitalism is not working as it once did in the US…)


Donny Deutsch: (Greets Hickenlooper) I’m frightened that you’re in a position where it’s hard for you to come out and say ‘I’m a capitalist.’ We’re a capitalist society. That doesn’t mean we can’t still have more income equality. But that is my concern that your party, my party, is being hijacked that it’s uncomfortable to say, ‘I am a proud capitalist.’

Hickenlooper: Well, the trick here is that all these labels divide us from each other…

Precisely Governor. Labels divide us from each other.

In his last answer, Hickenlooper unwittingly stumbled upon a very important truth. Only he didn’t seem to recognize it. Most Democrats don’t.


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