Score one for the Gipper 

Look, I know it's a pain, but it's part of my political columnist contractr; I'm required to analyze the election. We'll make it short and snappy.

True or False.

1. The election was a smashing victory for George W: True. Duh.

2. The country decisively repudiated the weak, vacillating, clueless, leaderless Democrats: True. The Dems are weak, vacillating, clueless and leaderless ... but that's just fine with lots of us. If there'd been a 30,000 vote shift spread over two or three states, we'd be reading about the voters' decisive rejection of the brazenly aggressive, arrogant, out-of-touch Republicans.

3. Negative ads depress turnout, so elections are decided by folks who vote, who are disproportionately older, more affluent and more conservative than average Americans: True -- with a bullet!! In 1972, more than 50 percent of eligible voters aged 21to 34 cast ballots; in 2000, that figure had dropped to 30 percent. This Nov. 6, I was having dinner with a party that included three 20-somethings, all politically savvy, well-educated, and decidedly liberal. None of them had voted. They all had their reasons; it was inconvenient to register, or they'd just moved, or they never got an absentee ballot -- whatever.

To many young people, voting is like reading a daily newspaper. It's mostly boring, meaningless and inconvenient. It's simply one of dozens of entertainment options available on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. It's, like, sort of cool to go do your civic duty, as long as it doesn't interfere with the rest of your life.

And let's face it, they're right. The visible face of politics -- the TV ads, the sleazy mailers, the aging white guys (stiffs, one and all!) with their snarky pleadings -- couldn't be more distasteful. Which leads us to ...

4. Given that most congressional districts, as a result of conspiratorial gerrymandering by the two major parties, are noncompetitive, why bother? True. The New York Times listed the results of every congressional race on Nov. 7, and 8 out 10 are just as lopsided as our own. It's as if we were stuck in the '50s, with one fuzzy black-and-white channel on the TV, featuring an unchanging cast of nasty, toxic old geezers.

5. Closer to home, we've got a freshly minted political superstar. True. And it's none other than Democrat Mike Merrifield, who must have worn out six pairs of shoes walking his precincts. The last Dem to be elected to the legislature from Colorado Springs was Daphne Greenwood, who left office nearly 10 years ago.

And Mike wasn't running against some random Republican stiff, but against an extraordinarily capable and well-qualified opponent, former Manitou Springs Mayor Dan Stuart. And if one race highlighted the flaws of partisan elections, this was it. I know that I wasn't alone in wishing that I could cast a ballot for both Mike and Dan.

6. Political truism of the decade: Never, never, never bet against Sarah Jack and Bob Gardner, whose relentlessly tough campaign took Ed Jones all the way to the state Senate.

A lesser team, faced with the obstacles that they encountered, simply would have folded their tents and melted into the night. Like Ali on the ropes, they absorbed blow after blow from their opponents (first Tim Pleasant, then Tony Marino) and somehow mounted devastating counterattacks. And you've gotta hand it to Ed Jones, who found the strength to keep on campaigning, even when it must have seemed hopeless.

7. The Republicans control Colorado, Washington D.C., and most of the country. Big changes are coming. Dunno.

On the one hand, states and countries are like supertankers; it takes a long time to turn them around. On the other, there are thousands of smart, determined men and women in government who buy into the GOP mantra of low taxes, less regulation, weak unions and less-stringent environmental protection. These folks are in charge now, and they're not going to wait around and see whether the Dems wake up.

8. So this means that the Republican Right has won at last. False. Yeah, they have, but so have the lefties. In Colorado over the last 10 years, the GOPsters have gotten lower taxes, loosened concealed carry restrictions, increased highway funding and strengthened state-mandated school testing.

Meanwhile, those dreaded lib'ruls have energized a powerful gay and lesbian community and have persuaded voters to approve dedicated state taxes for open space, historic preservation and public education.

In conclusion ... there are no conclusions, just ambiguity, irony and new hands dealt to all the players.

-- jhazlehurst@csindy.com


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