Tag Archives: elections

Obama Can Keep the 60’s from Coming Back

By Stephen Noriega

I believe that Barack Obama can avert another 60’s. Perhaps this sounds counterintuitive or even pessimistic. It is not meant to be either. The election of Barack Obama brings on another possibility. It is the possibility of breaking unfortunate repetitions of human behavior. Barack Obama may be able to circumvent a simmering resentment of our government that made so much in the 1960’s necessary and so painful to many.

People often look back on the 60’s and early 70’s with a definite degree of romanticism. People with long hair, making love in the forest and singing beautiful music can warm the hearts of aging accountants with revisionist personal histories. The 60’s make people think of the Age of Aquarius, a time when so many things were possible and the only limitations existed in the mind and the quality of the mushrooms. The ‘60’s is thought of as a time of social revolution tied with the embrace of the wretched, two concepts rarely seen together in political history.

hair-theatreaddictcom72007TheatreAddicts.com 7/2007

However, the 60’s also meant the burning of American cities, the murder of ideological activists and the beginning of American adventurism in the form of spreading terror as well as democracy in the world. A few people during this time recorded great accomplishments, often at the cost of their own lives. The 60’s brought into the public consciousness the images of dogs attacking black people, naked girls running from napalm and dead students at formerly quiet universities.

police_dogs_1963


kent-state-1970john-paul-filo1John Paul Filo, 1970

Others simply rode the wave of this time for their own amusement. Tim Leary might have had great progressive ideas, but he really just wanted to get high. Leary became psychologically addicted to LSD and tried to get as many bright minds to follow him into his own Wonderland. I know he talked about things much deeper, but he will never be known for anything more. He went on tour with G. Gordon Liddy twenty years later.


Jerry Rubin ran wild in the 1960’s, generating counter-culture sloganism and culminating his urination on conservative society with activities in the 1968 Democratic National Convention that resulted in the Chicago 8 / Chicago 7 Trial. When the bills didn’t get paid with political petulance, Rubin became a business investor. He went on tour with Abbie Hoffman for a fee in the 1980’s. When Abbie Hoffman died, he and David Dellinger were the only ones out of the Chicago 8 / Chicago 7 at his funeral. Rubin was killed by a car with a significant stock holding in Apple Corporation.

Martin Luther King, Jr. brought the concept of Satyagraha to North America and proved that racial oppression could be fought without a single gun or bomb. He insisted that his protesters dressed formally so they would not look like hippies and thugs. He insisted that people did not fight the authorities even when the authorities injured them. He gained wonderful momentum, bringing the Kennedy family into the fight, Robert much more willingly than John. Even Malcolm X, changed by his hajj to Mecca (yes, that’s right, Mecca in the 60’s was an origin of racial harmony) and influenced by King, Jr., changed his tune to one of more peaceful resolution. The 60’s also brought the assassins that killed Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy and John F. Kennedy. After that, racial progress fell into inconsistency, self-service and sublime discrimination.


The 60’s had the Great Society, a well-intended but mishandled attempt to keep the cities from burning and to bring the poor out of the ashes. Lyndon Johnson tried to keep a war going while redistributing wealth at the same time. Eventually something had to break and the Great Society fell first. Then Vietnam fell into the hands of the communists and the American spirit slowly fell into a “malaise”.

jimmy_carter_01timemag2007

Time Magazine, 2007

These times have many similarities to the negative side of the 60’s, only without a decent drug to escape it all. Instead of pot and LSD to deny our problems, we have crack and meth, drugs that destroy instead of simply cover. We have unpopular military actions, this time in two countries and possibly three. Even as we boast about our progress in Iraq, we see Afghanistan fall into chaos and Iran apparently asking to be attacked by our impatient and reactionary leadership. Immigrants make up a new class of people to be hated and persecuted. Notice how the word for undocumented people went from “immigrant workers” to “illegal immigrants” to the objects, “illegals”. Minorities and young Americans openly question the veracity of governing institutions, although their numbers in protest are miniscule compared with yesteryear.

convention2bthecloudcrimethinccom2008Crimethinc.com, 2008

Barack Obama does not represent merely a revolt from the diseased status quo, in spite of what Rush Limbaugh might say. Barack Obama is part of both the old guard and needed revolution. Obama is an Ivy League educated, well-connected part of the political culture. He is also an African American with ideas of community organization, social justice and strong international negotiation. Barack Obama is quite capable of shifting paradigms from existing paradigms at the same time. Obama can push for economic justice while railing against deadbeat fathers that won’t pay for their children. Barack Obama can speak of talking with our enemies while promising to throw bombs into Pakistan if it means killing Osama bin Laden.

obamahopeprogressneublack022008Neublack.com, 2008

Barack Obama has many problems to face but much credit to take if things even go from terrible to bad. He can refresh our view of government while not feeling stripped of its protective duties. Barack Obama can encourage us to think beyond our present position while remaining responsible to ourselves and society. The time of the Great Society brought just as much violence and self service as historical progress. Barack Obama can usher some more, much needed, change while keeping us on task socially, personally and morally.

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Filed under American Electorate, Democratic Party, Media, Obama, Protest

Colorado Represent

By:  Brian Bohnert  

With the collective national attention focused on the presidential race, sometimes the other races get lost in the political shuffle (not to be confused with the 1985 smash hit The Superbowl Shuffle).  While certainly not as compelling as the main event, congressional races in the state of Colorado open an excellent window into the unique demographic areas found within Colorado – from the urban centers on the front range, to the ranch lands of the western slope.  These races represent the pulse of the state within the context of national representation and deserve some much needed attention from students of political science and the media alike.

First, let us turn to the United States Senate race – the only state wide vote that will determine who represents Colorado in Washington DC.  Wayne Allard’s 2007 announcement that he would not seek a third term in congress left the Democrats salivating over the prospects of sending yet another senator to Washington and had the Republicans scrambling to defend a seat in a year that will prove to be difficult for the GOP brand.  Both parties avoided a tough primary election and the field was quickly narrowed to two seasoned Colorado politicans in Mark Udall (D) and Bob Schaffer (R), both former US Congressmen that had eyed the senate seat in the past.  With the Democrats riding a wave of success from the 2006 midterms (Governor, House, Senate, US Senate) Udall quickly seized the opportunity to tie Schaffer to the Bush “legacy” and contrast his own progressive record with Schaffer’s traditional republican model.  This ad not so subtly does the job:   Not surprisingly, Schaffer responded by pinning the “Boulder Liberal” tag on Udall, which carries with it all of those crazy things that Boulder voters care about (equal rights, clean environment, peace, birkenstocks…etc.).  Since this is a statewide race, and the conservative western slope/Colorado Springs area seems to respond (and by respond, I mean giggling about gays and pot smokers or gay pot-smokers) to this overplayed stereotype, this ad:    was a logical step for the Schaffer campaign.  In many ways, this race is emblematic of the the internal identity struggle within Colorado and in some respects the entire rocky mountain region.  Schaffer runs on a predictable pro-business, extraction economy, family values platform while Udall (a former Outward Bound instructor) runs on the also somewhat boilerplate pro-union, pro-environment, anti-war platform of the Democrats.  It seems the blue trend will continue in Colorado as recent polling shows Udall ahead by 6 points.  If this holds true, the duel Democratic representation in the US senate will be the first since the 1970s.

While the Colorado senate race is one of the most closely watched by pundits nationwide, no less important are the seven congressional districts within Colorado. Currently, the delegation is split 4-3 in favor of the Democrats who are hoping to pick up at least one more seat in the next session of congress and it looks like it might be possible – here is how:

District 1:

This mostly urban district has been controlled by the Democrats since 1973, most recently by Congresswoman Diana Degette, a life long Colorado resident and attorney who by most standards leans towards the liberal side of the spectrum.  She ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and faces George Lilly  in the general – a less than formidable opponent endorsed by Ron Paul and political heavy weight Chuck Norris.

District 2:

This district encompasses Boulder, Grand, Summit and Clear Creek counties and has been represented by Mark Udall (now running for the senate) since 1999 and leans heavily Democratic with Boulder having the final say in District 2 politics.  Not surprisingly, this race is considered a “safe” seat for the Dems as Jared Polis faces off against Scott Starin, a republican engineer with a focus on energy conservation technology who has managed to raise a paltry 15K for his war chest.  Polis, an openly gay candidate, made millions with online businesses and according to opensecrets.org spent a small fortune (5 mil) in his primary race to defeat former president of the Senate Joan Fitz-Gerald and is about to reap the rewards on his investment.

District 3:

This district is topographically the largest within the state stretching from Pueblo to the Utah border.  John, the younger of the Salazar brothers in the US congress, wrestled this district away from the grasp of republican control in the 2004 election who had clung to the seat since 1985 (well, sort of – Ben Nighthorse Capmbell was elected as a Dem and went all Benedict Arnold on us and changed allegiance to the GOP during his tenure in congress).  This year he faces off against Wayne Wolf, a western slope rancher with limited political experience and typical “big government, don’t take my guns” rhetoric on his website.  Not surprisingly, CQ politics predicts this as a safe seat for the Democrats.

District 4:

This race is the must watch show of the political season even for the casual observer of Colorado politics.  In a district that has been represented by uberconservative Marilyn Musgrave since 2004, a democrat has not seen playing time since the 1970s.  In fact, a few familiar republican faces – Wayne Allard and Bob Schaffer –  have represented this tradition loving district in the past.  However, her time in congress may be coming to a close as Rolling Stone recently pegged her as one of the “10 worst” members of congress and had this glowing report in a recent issue:

Musgrave has made regulating the bedroom behavior of her fellow Americans the focus of her entire career. An evangelical Christian who married her Bible-camp sweetheart, Musgrave does not believe in the separation of church and state.  For her opposition to gay marriage — as well as her push to legalize concealed weapons — Musgrave received an endorsement from the KKK in May.

She won close elections in 2004 and in 2006 and faces a tough challenger in Betsy Markey who worked as Ken Salazar’s frontwoman during his successful senate race in 2004.  While this race is officially “leaning republican” it looks like the Dems could pluck one out from under the GOP in November and give some much needed progressive elixir to the college educated types in Fort Collins.

District 5:

 

The 5th district encompasses Colorado Springs.  The winner will be Doug Lamborn.  He is a Republican.  Let’s move on.

District 6:

This district is one of the wealthiest and whitest in the nation with a median household income at over to 70k and a dominant white population (87.9%) so it is no surprise that the GOP has controlled the reigns since the early 1980s.  This district is home to John Elway, who was rumored to be considering either a run at the seat or possibly Allard’s senate seat.  Most recently,  self-appointed immigration czar Tom Tancredo has represented this district and hopes to hand it off to conservative Mike Coffman – the current Secretary of State.  His website  touts his military experience and labels him as a “proven conservative leader.”  Hank Eng, his Democratic challenger does not seem to pose a significant threat but recent rumors of corruption have been swirling around the Coffman camp and may allow the Dems to pull off an upset in CD6 – but it seems like a long shot at best.

District 7:

Prior to 2000, this district did not exsist but due to recent population growth in Colorado, the map was redrawn to account for an additional congressional representative.  This district was first represented by farmer turned politician Bob Beauprez who gave up the post in a failed gubeintorial race in 2006.  Democrat Ed Perlmutter won the seat in 2006 and hopes to defend it from a challenge by John Lerew this election cycle.  The Denver suburban district is bascially split in thirds between the Democrats, Republicans and Independents and Perlmutter has done just enough/not enough in his first term to earn another term in Washington and CQ politics.com agrees deeming this as a “safe Democratic” seat.

While these are only a small fraction of the seats up for grabs in the November, they are a good barometer for Colorado feelings on a whole.  If the polling holds up it could mean a 7-2 democratic advantage in the next session of congress and if the moons align, that figure could be pushed to an 8-1 margin – both of which will have DNC chairman Howard Dean screaming for joy.

 

 

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Filed under Colorado, Uncategorized