Colorado Senator Mark Udall is up for re-election in 2014. As anyone who follows politics knows, that is right around the corner and the campaign has almost certainly begun. (We can thank Republicans like Karl Rove for the never-ending campaign.)
Riding Barack Obama's coattails 2008, Udall easily won his senate seat:
Obama took six of the 11 Western states, spreading the Democrats' apparent majority inland from the West Coast to include Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.Here are the Colorado numbers from 2008:
Obama won with 54% and 1,288,576 votes.(You'll note who got more votes than Mark Udall. This might be a standard occurrence in state votes, but it should not be disregarded in my humble opinion. A vote for Udall was mere millimeters away from a vote for Obama.)
Udall won with 53% and 1,230,994 votes.
Despite voters' clear mandate in 2008, and the obvious disgust with which they regarded Republicans nationally, our very wise Senator and his partner, both Udall and Michael Bennet, chose to use a tired, old strategy from the 90s: triangulation.
Triangulation has some logic behind it. And when wielded by the greatest politician of his generation, Bill Clinton, it seemed to work like magic. Democrats have been enamored of it since.
But there's a big "but" here that current Democrats in elected office haven't fully taken into account:
- Republican party and its leaders have moved continually to the right over the time since 2001. That movement to the right continues even as the Tea Party self-immolates.
- Triangulation presumes the resulting policy will be halfway between what conservatives want and what liberals want and will de facto make the policy palatable to most Americans, including and especially those in the middle. That assumption is patently false and most progressives, and even some convervatives reject the formulation.
- Triangulation also assumes "both sides do it" a phrase we've heard from both our senators more times than I'd care to count. Both sides do not come at an issues with the same goals, the same long-term principles, the same regard for facts and the truth, nor the same negotiating philosophies. It should be clear to all by now that Republicans cannot be trusted in the least in our current political environment and that the press cannot be trusted to report the truth about them.
The 2008 move to the right by both Udall and Bennet immediately, and purposefully, hampered the ability of our newly elected president to act on his mandate and might've encouraged the historically belligerent behavior of Republicans:
Colorado’s two freshman senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, are part of a self-described centrist group of 15 Democrats meeting regularly “seeking to restrain the influence of party liberals in the White House and on Capitol Hill,” according to an account in Roll Call.To be perfectly blunt: nice job, assholes.
The group has a “shared commitment to pursue moderate, mainstream and fiscally sustainable policies across a range of issues, such as health care reform, the housing crisis, educational reform, and energy policy,” according to a statement issued Wednesday by the group.
Fast forward to now where we see the evisceration of Tea Party Candidates everywhere, the resounding loss of many candadates favored by, and those who favored, the Bowles-Simpson budget B.S., the near extinction of the Blue Dog/Conservadem legislator in congress that Bennet and Udall so hastily joined in 2008, and the clear electoral success of Democrats, including Barack Obama and several newly elected Democratic Senators, who proudly and unwaveringly proposed progressive solutions to our most intransigent problems.
Do you approve or disapprove of Senator Mark Udall’s job performance?So this is the environment in which Mark Udall has to decide if and how to run again for a seat in the United States Senate.
Approve ...................36% (Down from 2008)
Not sure ..................31%
Generally speaking, if there was an election for Senate today, would you vote for Democrat Mark Udall or his Republican opponent?
Mark Udall................45% (Down from 2008)
Not sure................ .16%
The progressive electoral shift in 2012 is unmistakable.
The clear mandate given by voters is undeniable.
The evidence of Conservadem/Blue Dog strategy failure is abundant.
Udall's overly conciliatory track, plaintive and misguided pleas for bipartisanship, constant identification with Republican policies and solutions (Simpson-Bowles, cuts to Medicare and Social Security) and unfounded timidity on progressive values leaves him a very clear choice in how to run and win the next election.
Will Colorado's Mark Udall do what makes sense for Democrats in 2014 or will he decide to go home and sit in a rocker on his porch?