I have always been an Unaffiliated voter. Before the 2008 election, I used to split my ballot…telling myself that I was beholden to no party. However, when the Tea Party became an influential, tantrum-throwing, toddlerish wing of the Republican Party, I was forced to rethink this strategy. As moderate Republicans were primaried by their own far-right base, and subsequently ousted from elected positions, I realized that voting along party lines trumped individual conscience in the most practical sense. Taking a stand rendered reasonable Republicans jobless.
I was dismayed when Kathleen Conti, an unknown someone, defeated Joe Rice, a popular moderate-leaning-conservative Democrat, in HD38. I disagreed with Rice on several key issues, most significantly his support for legislation that automatically forwarded driver’s license information to the Selective Service. But I found Rice to be responsive, accessible, and responsible. So I have followed Conti’s voting record on and off ever since. I find her leadership to be shallow and lightweight–a Stepford wife to the NRA and unregulated Oil and Gas. But she has the magic “R” next to her name in a heavily gerrymandered district, so she remains in office regardless of her voting record. A record which is so automatically party-line that her most idiotic votes receive no attention at all. Of consequence is that she never supports expansion of voting rights and accessibility to the ballot. (http://www.coloradocapitolwatch.com/)
Moving on to Mike Coffman…I find him reprehensible. Not because he is a birther (although I don’t respect him for that). Not because he is a Republican. Foremost and unconditionally because he participated fully in the idiocy that was the government shutdown. Never mind that he disavowed his role by sending out mailers touting that he voted to re-open it. His initial vote was so egregious that he, and every person who voted with him, is disqualified from the right (although not the reality) to hold any public office ever again. While Coffman exploited his military background to get re-elected, he dismissed the impact that shutting down the government had on active military. And Vets. And the long-term unemployed. Or people who use schools. Or food stamps, banks, and roads. Or who travel. I maintain that Coffman’s vote compromised every American on this planet, provided time and humor to foreign enemies, and compromised our standing in the international community. But obstructing Obama was his party’s singular goal, and Coffman, the birther, is a true believer. To hell with national interests.
So my utter contempt for Coffman prompted me to attend a Meet and Greet for Andrew Romanoff, who generously opened the event by giving the floor to a fairly unknown candidate who was running for Conti’s seat. I was so impressed with Robert Bowen that I joined his campaign. Strategy meetings were hosted by the inimitable Betty Harris, chair of the Arapahoe Dems in HD38. The strategy team was left stranded by the Arapahoe Democratic Party, which ignored Bowen’s campaign, drew volunteers away, failed to support him with either publicity or financial support. They ceded the election to Conti because wasting time on a Democrat in this gerrymandered district made no sense for the party. The Republicans must have felt the same way, because Conti couldn’t be bothered to submit accurate financial reports, stating that ” she has been less focused on fundraising this year, in general, and admits she did not keep up with the reports as much as she should have. “I have not had the time that I’ve had in previous years to raise money,” she said. “Frankly, I didn’t know if I would need to. I’m not trying to raise money that is not necessary.” (www.villagerpublishing.com/democrats-accuse-conti-of-legal-violations/)
The national Dems were dismissive of the importance of local races; I got calls every few days trying to draw me into GOTV efforts in Aurora and Centennial, even though I clearly stated that I would only work in HD38. Cannibalizing down-ballot campaigns was a self-defeating strategy, as it directed all attention to Udall and overshadowed any support the down-ballot candidates might have drawn. Obviously. (Remember when Scotty sabotaged the USS Excelsior? “The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.“)
What I concluded from this election is that neither party knows what to do about Unaffiliated voters. So here we are. This is our opportunity to examine why we don’t affiliate, why we do or don’t vote down party lines, whether or not we split our ballots, what compels us to vote or sit out.
The discussion is open. Please talk.