Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Rocky Mountain Blues

Hard to say what’s going to happen Tuesday and in the next few years in national politics.

I love Bush’s comment that the Democrats are “dancing in the end zone when they’re still on the 15 yard line.” Exactly. Winning in US politics long ago became more about organization, money and machinery than about better people or ideas. Politics has rarely been either 'civil' or a 'discourse.'And whatever you think of the relative merits of the Democratic or Republican vision or approach, the Republicans have an advantage in the areas that really count.

But Colorado may end up as a bellwether for things to come in the US. We’ve got some fascinating and possibly ‘tectonic’ political shifts goin’ on right now:

• Coloradans have historically voted Republican and registered Republicans outnumber Democrats here by a wide margin. Yet, both the state Senate and House are firmly in the hands of the Democrats, we’re about to elect a Democratic governor in a landslide vote, and our US congressional delegation will likely be strongly Democratic after next Tuesday.

• Polls show that white evangelicals are still the Republican Party’s most solid constituency in Colorado as they are across the nation, but support among that group for Republicans has been dropping steadily for four or five years from almost 70% to about 55% right now. Again, that drop more or less mirrors what’s been going on around the country.

How come Colorado is turning purple/blue? A coupla quick thoughts:

• Bush. The worst congress ever? Enough said.

• Democrats here in Colorado have pushed their nutty folks to the margins while the Republicans here continue to embrace and pander to their wackies. You’ve got Democratic candidates who speak knowledgably about the economy and business while pushing a socially moderate approach. By contrast, the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor recently said she thought giving gays the right to form civil unions will lead to sex with animals. Compare and contrast.

• Lots of folks here--including quite a few evangelicals if the polls can be trusted--have run out of patience with evangelical Christian leaders who have lost their sense of perspective or political balance. Colorado Springs is often referred to as ‘The Evangelical Vatican” because we’ve got so many conservative Christian organizations—including Focus on the Family--with their headquarters there. James Dobson, the head of FOTF, started out like a lot of well meaning evangelicals who wanted to encourage Christians to get more involved in politics. Good idea.

But at some point he and many other conservative Christian leaders moved beyond encouraging involvement into taking a hardened and extreme partisan position. Dobson was once widely respected in Colorado but now he’s become the butt of jokes and a political liability for many Republican candidates who are trying to appeal to more reasonable and/or independent voters. He’s at it again. Many conservatives here lean libertarian and the constant Christian Right attempt to shape public morality around a couple of narrow issues is starting to wear thin. Seems like this same dynamic may be playing itself out around the country too.

Maybe the combo of reasonable and moderate Democrats, the growing backlash against conservative extremism and the Christian Right, and the defection of previous members of the Christian Right who are fed up, will end up shifting national politics in a major way over the next couple of years. I guess we’ll start getting some answers pretty quick....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like the Dems are poised to make great gains in the House and possibly the Senate. However, advanced polling and exit polling proved suspiciously inaccurate in 2000 and 2004. is following DieBold voting machine errors in early voting that imply things may not turn out like we hope....


6:51 PM  
Anonymous Jon said...

Wow - from what I can tell, Colorado really does have some decently moderate Democrats in office. It's sad that the victories of moderates are going to put the healthy fringe elements of the Democratic party in power.

11:30 PM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

Come on Jon. We've had the fringe elements of the Republican party in power for 12 years. The folks 'leading' our country are way further to the right than your average Joe Republican. Both parties are caught up in the reality of gerrymandered districts that produce extremists. How come I don't hear you challenging right wing extremism?

7:44 PM  
Anonymous Jon said...

I have, over the course of my life, challanged the right-wing extremism far more than the left-wing. I have called into talk-radio 4-5 times in my life, and every single time was to blast someone on the right wing. I was and still am publically against the stupid immigration bill the house passed this fall, and the Iraq war, and No Child Left Behind (even though I think it was well-intentioned), and I've always been very publically against many things that the right-wingers have done involving the environment, especially pollution and SUV standards. Actually, I've even been very publically against SUV's. ;) In fact, I've even publically supported the legalization of gay marriage and pondered the legalization of many drugs. All of these views are views that I've made public on my own blog, on the blogs and message boards of others, and in my personal life.

It's just there's fewer needs to talk about such things here when that role is already well spoken for. :)

In some places I'm going to be accused of being a right-wing hack, in others I'm going to be accused of being a left-wing idiot. Such is the nature of how I write my opinions and how people like to read contrary opinions.

One thing I certainly agree with is that gerrymandered districts are huge problems on both ends of the spectrum. And that many of the right-wingers in Congress are way off into the fringe too. Bush is much further to the right than me, but I don't think he's further to the right than most republicans (think of how he approaches immigration or foreign aid, or who his Court nominees have been), and from what I've seen most of the powerful Republican senators and governors are quite moderate as well.

5:41 PM  
Anonymous jon said...

I thought about it and wanted to add one other thing to this - I do believe that the potential Democratic takeover will look different than the way the Republicans took over Congress. When the Republicans did it, it was very conservative Republicans leading the charge - the people were getting exactly what they were voting for. Those '94 Republicans and the guys that have come since include most of the far-right wackos. Now, on the other hand, moderate Democrats look favorable, but that will put much more liberal people in power. It's not the same situation.

11:57 PM  

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