Primary politics no place for indifference

Filed under: Hazlehurst |

Here’s a question for you: Which city raised more for Republican presidential candidates during the first quarter of this year, Boulder or Colorado Springs?
You already know the answer, don’t you? I wouldn’t bother to ask the question if the answer were obvious.
It’s Boulder. Residents of the Boulder/Longmont Axis of All Things Left gave the three leading Republican candidates substantially more than “Color Me Red” Colorado Springs.
Rudy Giuliani raked in $19,400 in Boulder, and a measly $4,400 in the Pikes Peak region. John McCain and Mitt Romney both raised more in Boulder, if only marginally so. McCain garnered $6,200 in Boulder and $6,050 in Colorado Springs, while Romney raised $12,550 and $12,250.
So should Republicans rejoice? Does this mean that Boulderites have finally seen the light and are moving decisively to the right?
Not quite. In aggregate, Boulder/Longmont residents contributed more than $340,000 to presidential candidates.
Barack Obama led the pack with $232,115. John Edwards and Hillary Clinton were far behind, with less than $20,000 apiece. And even marginal and single issue candidates made respectable showings.
Bill Richardson raised $9,650, Mike Huckabee took in $4,600 and Tom Tancredo walked away with $1,500.
By contrast, Springs residents contributed a total of $35,000 to all candidates. Of that, nearly a third went to fringe candidacies — Sam Brownback, Jim Gilmore, Tancredo and Ron Paul.
Up in Denver, the money spigot was turned on full blast. Mitt Romney led all candidates with $278,000, followed by Obama with $252,000 and Richardson with $108,000.
Half a dozen candidates, including Clinton, Edwards, and Giuliani raised between $40,000 to $60,000. Grand total: $896,000.
I’m not sure what all these totals mean. Do they give us an idea of who’s likely to prevail come November 2008?
Probably not.
But they do reveal with blinding clarity that the Pikes Peak region will be clout-free, regardless of who’s elected.
We can decry the influence of money in politics until we’re blue in the face. That’s fine, but in the real world “money talks.” Cities whose residents are too apathetic, too dimwitted or too insulated from the real world to participate in the quadrennial free-for-all that determines our next president are asking to be seated at the back of the bus.
Our indifference to the process is especially dismaying when you realize how dependent we are upon the federal government. Sure, folks in Denver/Boulder are a lot more political than we are and maybe a little richer as well, but 10 times more political? Ten times richer?
We ought to be more politically active than our neighbors to the north. They’re acquiring national political power — we’re losing it.
Just a couple of years ago, it looked as if both houses of the Colorado Legislature would be led by Colorado Springs Republicans, House Speaker Keith King and Senate Majority Leader Andy McElhany.
Reality intervened in the form of Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D-Denver) and Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald (D-Boulder). Just a couple of years ago, we were represented in Congress by 12-term congressman Joel Hefley, a powerful member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Today, Republicans no longer control the House and to add insult to injury, Congress.org ranked members of Congress by their ability to get things done for their districts. Our rookie congressman, Doug Lamborn, ranked 428 of 435.
Closer to home, the furor about the expansion of Pinon Canon, as well as the proposed Southern Delivery System, has effectively alienated us from many of our neighbors.
We’re seen as greedy, grasping, uncaring. We don’t care about the ranchers whose lands and livelihoods may be swallowed up by the Army. We don’t care about Pueblo. We don’t care whether we dry up agriculture in the Arkansas Valley, as long we can water our suburban lawns.
And do we even need to mention that good ol’ right-wing religion?
As a city, we are literally at the mercy of the federal government. What happens if Fort Carson is closed during the next base realignment and closure round? What about the projected troop increase? What about NORAD? What about … it’s a very long list.
So let’s get our checkbooks out, and send a few bucks to our favorite candidate(s).
By so doing, we honor the words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who famously said: “I think that, as life is action and passion, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived.”
And no, it’s not fair that individuals and cities have to literally buy access to politicians, but as the sainted President John Kennedy once observed, “life isn’t fair.”
Meanwhile, here’s a little political gossip, which may be true, or, conversely, it may be a plant by the opposition.
A leading Republican strategist confided to me the other day that Rep. Mike Merrifield (D-Manitou Springs) is planning to resign, mainly because of health concerns. According to the strategist, Democratic activist Annie Oatman-Gardner will be tapped as his successor. Sounds plausible enough, but wait a minute. (Of course, last week’s speculation about Margaret Radford eyeing a spot on the El Paso Board of Commissioners was squashed when she called my editor and informed him that she had no intention of seeking that office. That’s the problem with political rumors, they quite often aren’t worth the breath expended to spread them.)
So, why would a Republican strategist know intimate secrets about the Democratic hierarchy? Doesn’t the dissemination of the rumor, if untrue, nicely serve the interests of the GOPsters?
If Merrifield isn’t resigning, he’ll read it and assume that Oatman-Gardner is angling for his seat and wants to put the knife in him. Oatman-Gardner will assume that someone wants to make her look like a grasping, ambitious and unscrupulous pol, ready to toss an old friend and ally out the window.
Result: a weakened Merrifield, a fractured party, a de-legitimized Oatman-Gardner.
And cackling on the sidelines, my pal the Republican strategist/effective mischief maker.
Ain’t politics grand? And even better, suppose the strategist is right?
Democrats, watch out. They’re reading your e-mail, tapping your phones, planting listening devices in Romanoff’s office. It’s déj