A few columns ago, I wrote an open letter to Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. He has yet to respond, though I’m not counting on a reply. And so today, I’d like to craft an open letter, which no one has asked for, to my fellow Democrats, especially those on the national level, though conveniently, there is a strong Colorado connection. My Gardner letter asked which side of history he wants to be on.
Today’s new letter to my Dem buddies is a tad more direct: Are you nuts?
My Dear Fellow Democrats, I think we can nearly all agree that 2016 didn’t turn out like we wanted, Russians or no Russians (note: it was Russians). During my failed run for the U.S. Congress back in 2008, I noticed something that I found troubling within the Democratic Party. It seemed to me that when Republicans get upset, they tend to vote. When we Democrats get upset, we grouse and complain, but far too often don’t bother to show up at the polls, hence leading to Trump in office. The modern Republican Party has shown a real thirst for power above and beyond any principles or ideals, at least at the national level. And they vote. I’m not arguing for the abandonment of principles, such as we see in Sens. Gardner and Graham, but golly.
Which, of course, leads me to the ongoing presidential campaign and to my opening question to the Dems regarding being nuts.
Well, are you?
Over my now 61 years on Earth, I only totally agreed with a single candidate on all issues — me. Our structure of governance essentially mandates that with winner-take-all districts, we must select between two candidates for office and decide which is closer to our point of view. We will never get a perfect match, unless, of course, you run for office, and I think you all should, but that’s for another column.
So, with so many Democratic presidential candidates now running, whom do we support? It depends on your goal. And in my humble view, far too few Democrats have their focus on the real prize, winning. Forgive me, but I see far more Democrats complaining about politics today and grumbling about how Bernie really should have been the nominee (he’s not a Dem, folks) and that Hillary was the establishment choice (which she was) and so just to send a message, these Dems stay home on election day, cuz, that’ll show’em.
And we get Trump. Feel good about that?
In the 2020 campaign, the two Dem frontrunners, it appears, are U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden. Colorado’s Michael Bennet is at about 1 percent. This unfortunately reminds me of 1972, and that’s not a good thing.
Way back in 72, I was a campaign volunteer on the George McGovern campaign. McGovern was a real and true war hero, an honorable man, and one with whom I agreed on many issues. For many Dems on the farther left, McGovern was, finally, the very liberal candidate they’d been waiting for since FDR. The problem, of course, was we got Nixon again. I think there is a lesson there. I’d rather compromise on a few issues than give the election to the other side.
Given the divisive nature of our national political climate, regardless of my appreciation and agreement with any particular issue stances, I can’t imagine a worse national candidate for the Dems to nominate than an east coast super liberal from Massachusetts, unless it was an elderly east coast former VP who is a very good man, but perhaps not the strongest banner carrier. That, dear readers, is the political reality, in my humble view. Nominate Warren or Biden and watch Trump somehow squeak into a second term.
The solution? Well, I used to work for him. Long before Sen. Michael Bennet declared for the White House, I was on record stating that we needed a western Democrat, with strong progressive views but not to the point of being quixotic (cough…Medicare for all…cough). Bennet is that candidate, yet he can’t even get onto the debate stages. I’m so tired of Democrats who would rather be “right” than victorious, when “right” is defined as a single way of looking at all issues from the far left. We have a genuine and dangerous problem in our party if we cannot nominate winning candidates.
I’ve always been a pragmatist. I want the successor to the notorious RBG to be picked by a Democratic president and confirmed by a Democratic Senate. We already lost two seats on that high court due to too many Dems finding Hillary to be “unacceptable and not really very different” from Donald Trump. I believe history has already proven the erroneousness of that dangerous point of view.
Do we want to win? If so, we need Michael Bennet as our nominee, or someone like him. If we just want to continue to feel superior and to complain into our lattes, well, keep going. I’m genuinely scared too many will choose that second option.
Hal Bidlack is a retired professor of political science and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who taught more than 17 years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.