Weekend events demonstrate that people matter in politics
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
Let’s get this part out of the way. I’m using my “small mind” today, albeit reluctantly. (Though some of my “friends” among regular readers would argue my regular mind is demonstrably small.)
That’s because people matter, especially those who would represent all of us in the political arena, be that locally, at the statewide level or in our nation’s capital.
First, let’s discuss something that combines all three of Eleanor Roosevelt’s subject matters: people, events and ideas. All were included in Mitt Romney’s Saturday morning announcement that he’d picked Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate in the 2012 presidential race.
Good for Mitt.
If the campaign is to be about the economy and deficit reduction, Ryan is the perfect choice to make those issues the focal point. His strategies are well-known. He’s been a persuasive, if not successful (so far), advocate for them. And he brings a crowd of acolytes devoted to him and to his policies.
That’s the upside.
The downside for the GOP is multifaceted. Ryan is the perfect choice to make deficit reduction and the economy the focal points during the remaining 80-plus days of the campaign. His strategies are well known, and he brings a crowd of no-compromise acolytes with him. And it’ll be Ryan and his policies that begin to define the Republican ticket, not the guy at the top who’s the reluctant choice for standard bearer for many of the GOP faithful.
Those partisans, newly energized by what they might now see as a Ryan-Romney ticket rather than the way it’ll be listed on our ballots, could easily pull the Mittster back to the right flank he embraced during the primary battles.
We’ll see how that works out on the campaign trail in important swing states where senior voters worry about Ryan’s plans for Medicare and Social Security, where the rebounding auto industry might have gone under absent federal intervention, or in states such as our own where Republicans preferred another name at the top.
In particular, we’ll see how that works among independent voters everywhere, especially women, who might not be thrilled with the first three and one-half years of the Obama administration but could decide that they prefer the devil they know to the one they might wonder about.
People issues also have come to define a local race, though it’s anything but a contest.
Another shoe fell over the weekend from the closet of Jared Wright, whose main qualification when local Republicans chose him to run for the District 54 seat in the Colorado House of Representatives seemed to be that he wasn’t the incumbent, Laura Bradford.
State GOP chairman Ryan Call and local party chair Ruth Ehlers are stiff-upper-lipping it so far, and Wright himself says there’s zero chance he’ll withdraw as a shoo-in candidate. (Local Dems offered no opponent, leaving that chore to Tim Menger, who has no shot at winning). You’d have to forgive many of us for thinking there’s got to be a better option who might represent us in Denver in the tradition of Tillie Bishop, Bernie Buescher, Jim Robb, Dan Prinster, Tim Foster and others.
It’s not the latest revelation that Wright and his wife filed for bankruptcy last year. It’s that, as with his forced resignation from the Fruita police force, he chose to misrepresent the facts of the matter, claiming, according to Call, that bad investments were responsible for his financial problems.
My own long-suffering spouse is exceedingly familiar with the argument that something with wheels and an engine can be an “investment.” But only four or five of the nearly four dozen vehicles I’ve owned over the years merited a plus in the profit vs. loss ledger. And most voters probably wouldn’t include a fancy watch and a ‘67 Camaro on any list of reasonable “investments.”
Count me among those who’d appreciate some creativity in their legislators. But Wright’s intellectual legerdemain about reasons for leaving his job and for filing bankruptcy is too much.
State and local GOP leaders should heed the advice of this master of political machinations and get on with the business of producing a better candidate for our District 54 seat.
“The wise man [or woman] does at once what the fool does finally.” — Niccolo Machiavelli