Changes in attitudes, and in platitudes

Filed under: Hazlehurst |

Now that the municipal election is history, it’s time to pay attention to 2008. We could, I suppose, do the usual — write columns, pontificate, complain, praise, blame and generally do the impotent journalist thing … but it’s time for a change!
What about really mixing it up — being part of the process, participating fully in our precious American democracy? Elected office? Been there, done that. But how about trying to become a delegate to the national convention and help choose the woman or man who will lead our country for the next four years?
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Stay in a nice hotel, eat and drink for free, wear a funny hat, stay up late, and meet “C” list celebrities. What could be better?
Next step: choose a party.
As some readers might recall, I was booted out of my lofty position as a Republican precinct committeeman for the cardinal sin of publicly supporting Democrats. It seems unlikely that the true believers in the GOP would forget that little contretemps — best move over to the blue side and see whether a lapsed Republican might be welcomed into their ranks.
As luck would have it, the Dems had just made available the draft version of their “Model Delegate Selection Plan.” So I took a look at it, to see if there might be a slot for a white, male, middle-aged, heterosexual ex-Republican.
Let’s see, it was encouraging to read that ‘The Democratic Party in Colorado should be open to all members of the Democratic Party regardless of race, sex, age, color, creed, national origin, religion, ethnic identity, sexual orientation, economic status or physical disability” and that the goal of a diverse delegation “shall not be accomplished either directly or indirectly by the Party’s imposition of mandatory quotas at any level of the delegate selection process or in any other Party affairs.”
There aren’t any quotas — just “goals.” But regardless of what you call them, they will, if implemented, have the same effect: to empower some groups and disempower others.
Here’s the official breakdown.
The 80-person delegation must be evenly split between men and women. Fair enough, but now it gets a little trickier.
Twenty-four party leaders and elected officials (PLEO’s) get automatic nods.
The delegation should include, according to the published goals, seven African/Americans, 17 Hispanics, two American Indians, three Asian/Pacific Islanders, three lesbian/bisexual/gay/transgender individuals, two people with disabilities, and 13 young people.
Oops. Unless the 24 “party leaders” skew heavily female, the deck is stacked. According to my arithmetic, there would be no more than five spots available for geezed-out white guys, once all of the quotas (I mean goals) had been met.
Is that reasonable? Let’s look at the most recent stats from the Census Bureau.

Population, 2005 estimate 4,665,177
Persons under 5 years old 2005 7.3%
Persons under 18 years old 2005 25.3%
Persons 65 years old and over 2005 10.0%
Female persons 2005 49.5%
White persons 2005 90.3%
Black person 2005 4.1%
American Indian and Alaska Native 2005 1.1%
Asian persons 2005 (a) 2.6%
Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander 2005 0.1%
Persons reporting two or more races 2005 1.8%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin 2005 19.5%
White persons not Hispanic 2005 71.8%

Interpolating, it would seem that about 30 percent of Coloradoans are non-Hispanic white males. Of those, 5 percent might qualify as disabled. Remove them and, if white males are to be proportionately represented in the delegation, 20 slots would be set aside for them — as would be an equivalent number for white females. But if you did that, there wouldn’t be enough slots for other categories, since the PLEO’s take 24 off the top.
It’s a matter, then, of whose ox is gored. The minorities whose votes have historically been so important to the Dems are too powerful to ignore, or, more precisely, not to coddle. And white male Democrats who are active in the party won’t complain, since doing so would end their political careers.
So, alas, there’s little likelihood that I’ll ever achieve the exalted status of convention delegate. Doesn’t much matter to me, but a deliberately exclusionary policy cynically masquerading as an inclusionary policy can’t be good for Dems in the long run.
Imagine if, in a state whose population was 72 percent African-American, Republicans designed a delegate selection plan that resulted in substantial under-representation of the black majority. We’d all be outraged — and rightfully so.
Discrimination, however well meant, and however concealed with clever legalisms, is never right. And a policy which deliberately advantages some groups and disadvantages others is wrong, whether legal or not.
So why not just junk all of the goals, and quotas, set-asides and PLEO spots, and try a little democracy? Let anyone run, as long as they’re older than 18, Democrats and not in jail.
The delegation’s composition would reflect the real desires of Colorado Democrats, not those of Washington diversity theorists. And it is, after all, the Democratic Party, so Democrats ought to embrace democracy, shouldn’t they?
And practically speaking, it’s clear that the recent Democratic resurgence has more to do with Republican incompetence than with any sudden affection for the donksters. Democrats need to practice what they preach, and bring historically disaffected groups back to the Democratic fold. That means gun-owning, NASCAR-loving, motorcycle-driving, beer-guzzling, talk radio-listening, off-color joke telling … guys! Yeah, the ones who voted for Bill Ritter and Ken Salazar, as well as Bill Owens and Wayne Allard.
They’re not as dumb as you think. Thanks to Ritter & Co., Colorado guys are beginning to think the Dems are OK, if sometimes a little out there. But if they figure out you don’t want ’em at the big dance, they’ll just get in their pickups and head for the red side of town.
And maybe … do you think the GOPsters would welcome me back to the fold and send me to Minnesota?
No, neither do I.

City elections wrap-up

So what does it all mean? Not much, apparently.
On Tuesday, four of the five City Council incumbents prevailed, but there were some subterranean rumblings, some subtle signs that the electorate may not be as dumb and happy as our intrepid leaders would like to believe.
Jan Martin’s insurgent campaign easily prevailed, although her de facto running mate, Tom Harold, finished well out of the running, 5,500 votes shy of a council seat.
And although Harold was less well-known and less impressive on the stump than Martin, he might well have prevailed if his name had been Tammy instead of Tom. With only one woman among the nine council contenders, Martin benefited from the ballots of folks who wanted gender balance on council.
Tom Gallagher also won easily, much to the dismay of his fellow incumbents, who made no secret of their exasperation with his rambling, unfocused monologues about water policy, not to mention his close ties to the Morley brothers.
And speaking about the Morleys: Mark, Jim, good morning! And wouldn’t you like to have all that money you dumped into the election back?
Gallagher would have prevailed without your money — his maverick image plays well — so you just wasted your cash. Worse than wasted, in fact, by targeting Small and Purvis with negative ads, you transformed them from adversaries into bitter enemies.
Politicians, like elephants, never forget a slight … but I’m sure that Randy and Larry will be eminently fair and evenhanded with any of your developments that may come before them.
So next time you decide to throw money at politicians, just give it to me — it won’t do you any good, but at least it won’t hurt you.
Mayor Lionel Rivera’s victory was, at best, a weak one — but a win is a win is a win, whether by one vote or 1 million. It would have been interesting to see whether a credible opponent could have prevailed, but we’ll never know.
Big winners?
Certainly Rivera, Small and Purvis, who can claim that the voters have strongly endorsed their business-friendly, cautiously progressive and pro-growth policies. Martin, because she won without the support of the Realtors, home builders and the chamber. Gallagher, because he won despite his negatives.
Big losers? The Morley brothers.
A bunch of mayoral/council wannabes who didn’t run, and now think that they could’ve won. The five unsuccessful candidates for council, who won’t forget the whuppin’ the voters gave ’em for a long time (I speak from experience here!). All the winners who now have to figure out how to live on their $6,250 annual stipends — no raises for you!
And biggest winner of all?
John Weiss, publisher of the Independent, who was the only reader to correctly forecast the election results, and thereby win a glass of wine at the Famous from yours truly.
John Hazlehurst can be reached at John.Hazlehurst@csbj.com or 227-5861.