Say What You Mean
Are you just about over all the political commercials taking over the airwaves this past month? You know things are getting bad when you long for the days of accident attorneys and pharmaceutical advertisements. Perhaps some of the following has to do with the fact that Colorado has been deemed one of those pesky “purple states” where unaffiliated voters actually outnumber those registered with either party, but given that we have a governor and Senator up for re-election, we have become inundated with political advertising. Now we have all simply grown accustom to the penchant for negativity in political marketing, but these days, I am struggling to discern between political campaign ads and a trailer for yet another Halloween fright fest. But what bothers me in this political cycle more than even that isn’t what these politicians are saying but what they aren’t.
Call me old fashioned if you will, but if you are going to run for political office, it seems to me that you should actually believe in the issues you support and stand by them. I may disagree with you, but if you think that arming a platoon full of monkeys in order to safeguard our nation’s schools from the ever-growing litany of school shootings is a great idea, then stand by that position, thus creating a clear distinction in perspectives between you and your opponent, and let the voters decide for themselves. But more and more, politicians are taking one more extreme stance during the primaries, then attempting to back off those positions and feigning a more neutral perspective come time for the general election. These political commercials then become a lesson in wading through the bullshit and drawing meaningful conclusions based upon what these assholes refuse to say.
A thorough perusal of the content of these ads will tell you all you need to know about what polling data tells us are the death knell issues for each political party. Democrats have been eerily silent when it comes to touting the infrastructure bill or other spending measures that they supported but which many voters blame for rising inflation. And even in places as liberal as San Fransisco, cries for defunding the police have been notably hushed, as Democrats attempt to distance themselves from an issue that makes them appear soft on crime in the midst of escalating violence and criminal transgressions.
But if Democrats are side-stepping their way through a dog park full of canine deposits, Republicans are tiptoeing through a land mine laden battlefield of issues they know are unpopular with a vast majority of voters. They know they can’t win general elections if their real views are exposed so they are backing away quicker than a French battalion. Most notable of the extreme positions they know are unpopular with voters are election integrity and abortion rights. In Colorado, for example, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea has come out and attacked former President Trump, saying that his denial of the validity of the 2020 election is a dangerous hoax that is hurting the country. O’Dea has also claimed to support a woman’s right to abortion. His ads intentionally eschew the term “conservative” instead labeling him as an “Independent-minded candidate”. Ok, O’Dea, but the record you are running from says something completely different.
Despite now somehow saying he supports a woman’s right to choose, O’Dea opposed the recent bill protecting abortion rights in Colorado following the Dobbs decision. In fact, O’Dea’s signature is on the 2020 petition to ban abortion access in Colorado. Now if you want to restrict abortion access and deny women the right to make their own reproductive decisions and hand those choices to the state, I may disagree with you, but you have every right to that position. But if that is your position, have some balls and stand by it. O’Dea and his Republican brethren, knowing their policies are unpopular with the general populace are talking out of both sides of their mouth in order to deceive the American voters about where they really stand on the issues.
And it is just this bullshit that got us to the Dobbs decision in the first place. For years, Republicans in swing states have tried to walk the tightrope of suggesting that they personally are against abortion but support a woman’s right to choose. Then they get into office and every single one of them votes to confirm far-right wing justices like Amy Comey Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh who became the instrumental voices in taking away women’s reproductive autonomy. If this was the will of the American voters, I might not like it, but I would begrudgingly support it nonetheless, but it is the farce through which it was perpetrated, defrauding the voters into thinking these Republicans assholes weren’t going to put pro-life activists onto the Supreme Court when they knew the whole time that this was exactly what they intended to do, that makes me sick to my stomach.
And the issue of election integrity might be even more crucial to the functioning of our democratic institutions. These Republicans can come out and condemn the actions Trump took in leading the insurrection on January 6th, but how many Republican senators voted to convict him in his second presidential impeachment trial? 7. That’s right- of the 50 Republican senators in office in 2020, only 7 voted to impeach the man who tried to overthrow the will of the American people. And of those 7, only one was up for re-election in 2022. These Republicans may want to distance themselves from enabling this political coup and the MAGA part of their party, but their voting record tells the truth that if given another chance, they would do it all again, only better next time because next time they won’t fail.
So as you get set to go to the polls next Tuesday, don’t listen to what these politicians say, listen to how they vote. Hold them accountable for their actual positions, not the ones they want you to think they support. Truth, after all, is not just the title of this column. It’s they key to a functioning American democracy.
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com