Hemorrhaging Democrats and Republicans

In the political world, the great unknown are a group of Americans called the unaffil­iated active voter. They prefer not to swear allegiance to any one party, and these days, who can really blame them?

Here in Montezuma County they number around 7,300. Republicans that participate regularly also are a few more. Active Demo­crat voters are somewhere in the 3,600 cat­egory. The really wild card in the mix are the even less understood sometime voter. So, for the political junkie, local elections are becoming a contest for the hearts and minds of an increasingly volatile voter turn­out.

Both major political parties spend enor­mous sums on campaigns centered around one talking point. Our guy is better than your guy. The selling of candidates isn’t new territory, but the patience of the av­erage voter, who are tired of being taken for granted, seems to be a growing demo­graphic group. More than you might expect, are not accepting the premise that a party can put up candidates that once elected can turn a deaf ear to their constituents. Expe­rienced political operatives are quick to say that shifting voter affiliations due to flawed candidates do not last long. When the party in power becomes untenable, voters come home to support whatever candidate the other party puts up, as there isn’t any viable alternative.

It is possible that voters are just plain fed up and those rules are changing a bit. Nothing is working the way it is supposed to. There was a meeting in late July at a local restaurant that was a harbinger of things to come on a local level. That saying of “all politics are local” became a rather surreal moment as factions within the party col­lided. It will ripple out as word spreads and loyalties shift in small-town America. One of the owners of the restaurant launched an emotional assault on the assembled people, most of which bypassed food for the serious moment at hand. The frustra­tion in her voice as she lashed the crowd with her words was surreal and more than just a little self-serving. No longer would she hold the back of her restau­rant for a monthly Republican meet­ing. No more bison burgers for us! It was quite the theat­rical moment.

I listened as a member of the party stood up and announced his disbelief at the consequenc­es of such a contrived event, and that he was leaving the Republican party. He asked that his name be removed from member­ship as he walked out. The next day, I heard from over two dozen friends and neighbors who said they were going to change their long-time party affiliation. Their anger was justifiable. Most voters do not appreciate crap politics in their faces. On a local ba­sis, they may or may not know the monthly events that define the issues occurring in their party. They have other issues that con­sume their time and attention, especially after such a wrenching year that has just oc­curred. This is now their clarion call to start paying closer attention. Good stewardship of who and what you believe in is no longer a casual sometime thought if you ever did think that way.

Last year, when I first met Lauren Boe­bert and interviewed her, I knew she would win Colorado’s Third Congressional Dis­trict Republican primary against Scott Tipton. I told her that, after the interview concluded, and we were parting company. That was in early February; months away from that fateful election that would turn her into a national rising star of the Repub­lican Party. This year, I am watching various candidates for office run on a variation of Boebert’s clarion call for freedom, as they try to replicate her success. Lauren Boe­bert’s success is predicated on her ability to speak out on issues that resonate with vot­ers as they struggle with events that seem incomprehensible. Unchecked immigration at our borders, our constitutional rights be­ing trampled on, a highly politicized pub­lic health issue, public schools that fail our families with socialist propaganda instead of education, mind-blowing spending by our government with demands to spend even more, a state and national election that even growing numbers of Democrats are beginning to wonder about.

The escalating rift between local Repub­licans has its roots in two separate women’s groups that resulted in the group led by the longtime Montezuma County Republican Secretary losing their charter due to a fail­ure to be anything much more than a lunch bunch. That is in contrast to the current chartered Republican Women’s group that serves up coffee and active outreach Mon­day through Saturday at 40 E. Main Street in Cortez and is making inroads on voter awareness of issues that are important to them. That rift was further exacerbated by a faction within the party that feels so en­titled to ignore bylaws they freely admit it, and who vigorously opposed an indepen­dent audit of the finances. At this point, it should be obvious that registered Republi­can voters of Montezuma County need to ask themselves, what do they want to stand for? Entrenched policies that practice the status quo of exclusion and meetings limit­ed to insiders or a policy of positive growth by inclusion of the increased presence of non-voting members at meetings? There are real risks associated with inclusion, but there is the possible reward of a broader consensus that can bring real solutions to real problems. The great unknown. I would rather take a chance on including a possi­ble constitutional-leaning unaffiliated than known Democrats posing as Republicans. It’s no secret that Montezuma County leans conservative, so if you want to get into an elective position here you put an R behind your name and hope you don’t get outed.

Democrats are said to be united, with no inside party squabbling. Perhaps that’s true of the elite leadership, but I actually know a few sane Democrats, so I am not buying into that meme. They too, are wor­ried. Mostly they worry about the increas­ingly leftward tilt of their party. Yep. That’s a problem, all right.

In September, Colorado’s Republican Party’s Central Committee will conduct a vote on whether or not to close their pri­mary to the unaffiliated voter. Limiting the process of candidate nomination to reg­istered Republican voters who participate in the caucus is generating a conversation of pros and cons. Some feel that by limit­ing participation to registered Republicans, many conservative leaning unaffiliated vot­ers will change to Republican.

Perhaps, perhaps not.

Valerie Maez writes from Lewis, Colo.

From Valerie Maez.