2014 promises treats for political junkies everywhere, including in Colorado. Here, the Democrat party is standing by its usual suspects but there’s plenty of action across the aisle; with seven candidates vying to carry the party’s flag against Gov. John Hickenlooper, it’s sharp-elbows time until the primary election in June.
The campaign for a GOP candidate to oppose Sen. Mark Udall has less drama, although state Sen. Owen Hill, discomfited by the sudden entry of U.S. Representative Cory Gardner, will certainly cry “collusion” or worse on part of party leaders. The accusation has enough of a grain of truth to stick: Hill’s chief primary opponent was Ken Buck, who failed to unseat Sen. Michael Bennett in 2012. He is now running for Gardner’s vacated 4th Congressional District seat and, given the district’s makeup, is likely to win.
Both Rep. Gardner and Mr. Buck have strong ties with various TEA Party groups, so the Democrats’ attack machine will attempt to paint these two as “too extreme for Colorado.” Leaving aside the question of why adherence to the Constitution, lower taxes, less spending, and a smaller and more prudent government drives Democrats into apoplexy, there are practical aspects to this smear. It is more likely to stick to Mr. Buck, whose penchant for loose talk sometimes helps his opponent — as it did in 2012. But it probably won’t have much effect, since 4th CD voters are less likely to be swayed by such mudslinging as are voters statewide.
The charge will be more difficult to make against Rep. Gardner, who is a careful speaker with a middle-of-the-road voting record and growing leadership skills in the congressional Republican caucus. But make it Democrats will, loudly and repeatedly, to mask their candidate’s record of voting in lock-step with the current administration and his 100 percent rating from the National Abortion Rights League. Who knows? Perhaps enough Coloradans embrace dismembering an 8-month-old fetus in the womb that their accusations will have resonance.
Which illuminates the core question: what do we really want, and how do we think it best to achieve our hearts’ desires? Do we want the government to take money from others and give it to us, that we may live more comfortably? Do we understand the end result of that will be a crippled national economy and reduced standard of living for everyone? Do we want the government to “stay out of the bedroom,” save when it allows us to use the courts to force our viewpoint on those who disagree with us? Do we want to “save the planet” from the bogeyman of carbon dioxide, not understanding that China and India will be perfectly happy to continue to build their economies at our expense, impoverishing us in the process? Do we want a government led by a “Constitutional scholar” who thinks it perfectly acceptable to ignore provisions of the Constitution he finds inconvenient?
We are entering the political season in which such questions should be discussed in detail and at length. There are differences here not only between the major parties but among various factions of the same party; those working to mask or suppress them are doing a disservice, not only to themselves, but to the people as a whole. One of the reasons for discontent with politics as usual is the impotent rage voters feel when they are presented yet again with a choice between Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber. Remember the words of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz: “If you want to lose elections, stand for nothing.”
In 2014 candidates should be compelled to tell us exactly what they believe and what they see as solutions to our problems, state and national. If a candidate believes there should be unlimited national debt, he should say so. If another believes that cold-blooded murderers shouldn’t be executed because that would violate their civil rights, he should say so. Abortion on demand, regardless of circumstance? If you believe it, be proud and say it loud. Police investigation of miscarriages as “death by misadventure?” If you don’t champion it, how can you tell if a majority agrees? Loss of a statewide campaign as a resume-enhancer for someone seeking statewide office? Let’s find out.
Because elections are about more than maintaining a salary, office and the ability to spread money around to one’s friends. They are about the course of our nation and state. They are about our future, and that of our children and grandchildren. This year of all years, we should demand that candidates for public office tell us where they stand on issues and why. Otherwise, elections are just a fancy version of throwing darts at a list of names.
“Commence, au festival …”
Morgan Liddick lives in Summit County.