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BIDLACK | As voters mull O’Dea, how much is too much? | Opinion








Hal Bidlack


Before I get to actual Colorado politics (ed: sigh…), may I take a moment to comment on what much of the United States and the world has been focused on for the past 10 days or so  the death of Queen Elizabeth II?

Though it is entirely apt and reasonable to mourn the loss of a family matriarch, and though it may be OK to recall her 70-year time on the throne with warmth, as she was clearly a nice lady working very hard for her country, may I remind my fellow Americans that we fought a war to be rid of such nonsense?

You remember, right? The Revolutionary War? All about that “all men are created equal” thing?

When Thomas Jefferson put together the remarkable Declaration of Independence, at its core was a truly revolutionary idea in human history: no one is born better than anyone else. The concept of a “royal family” is deeply un-American. The idea that anyone is a “majesty” or a “lord” or heck, even a “sir” by act of a king or queen is, OK, I’ll say it again, un-American.

We as a nation really need to stop admiring that deeply alien and perverse institution, no matter how lovely or seemingly elegant and enviable a notion of royalty may be. It is, after all, what we as a nation, for the first time in world history, took up arms to defeat, so that we could elect our own leaders.  

Back in 1908, at the first London Olympics, American shot-putter Ralph Rose carried the American flag in the opening ceremonies. When he marched past the “royal” box containing the then King of England, he did not dip the flag, as was custom by other nations. He is said to have stated, “This flag dips for no earthly king.” Spot on, Ralph. Oh, and in 1936, in Nazi Germany, the U.S. Olympic Committee codified that our flag would not dip to that dictator and alleged master-race tyrant either. “These colors don’t dip!” would be a fine motto, though I admit there is a pretty good chance it would be misunderstood by the folks who chew tobacco.

So come on, Americans, please stop being so deferential to any “royal” family anywhere and that includes the Kardashians (ed: feel better now?) (HB: Yes, a little).

Which brings me, of course, to the Colorado Senate race that I’ve oft ranted about.

But rather than have me drone on, I draw your attention to a recent FiveThirtyEight.com article on our battle between incumbent Sen. (and former boss of mine) Michael Bennet and Republican challenger Joe O’Dea. Take a moment to read the article, I’ll wait here…

One of the things that makes this analysis interesting is what FiveThirtyEight.com really is. Unlike most political sites, Five Thirty Eight is run by, well, math nerds, with uber-nerd Nate Silver at the helm. Silver, you may recall, has often been the only analyst to be pretty close to spot-on in his predictions of electoral outcomes. This article, “Could a Republican Win Colorado’s Senate Seat?” makes the case that in spite of all the polls (including the ones the GOP is doing) showing Bennet ahead, Colorado’s seat could flip, and the reasoning is quite interesting.

First, as is widely known, off-year elections are usually much better for the “out” party than for the incumbent president’s. But this is an odd year, in that the GOP has nominated quite the clown car of candidates. In Georgia, for example, Trump acolyte Herschel Walker can’t seem to remember how many kids he has fathered, nor can he remember whether or not he graduated (in the top 1% no less) from the University of Georgia (spoiler: in spite of repeating the claim many times that he did graduate at the top of his class, he didn’t, and Walker now insists, in the face of actual evidence, that he never said he graduated in the first place).

And Walker may be on the “less crazy” side of Team Trump 2.0, as other GOP senate candidates, in addition to a full-throated endorsement of The Big Lie, have also called for, among lots of radical ideas, considering the repeal of the 17th Amendment (which allowed us to directly elect our senators, rather than have the state legislatures do it) and the legality of birth control devices.

The claim is that O’Dea is not as crazy as the other GOP nominees, so he may have a shot at winning. Let that one roll around in your brain for a minute…

Ok, that’s a lot to unpack.

O’Dea has claimed to be a moderate while cozying up to Mitch McConnell and has said he’d opposed a 15-week abortion ban, though he likes the idea of a 20-week ban, which is not exactly pro-choice. Is not being totally nuts a good reason to get elected?

The article also suggests that Bennet may be weaker than it appears due to his not having cleared the 50% line in either of his two previous elections. That criticism, however, fails to understand Colorado’s tendency to usually have fairly tight elections, with a third-party candidate or two involved who can peel off a few votes. And in 2016, Bennet got 49.97%, so I think we are quibbling a bit here.

Ironically, Bennet’s greatest strength as a senator — that he is a workhorse who is not really interested in getting credit, but rather in getting the job done for the folks back home — is actually a fault. Bennet not crowing about his achievements like, say, a Ted Cruz (this is hypothetical, so let’s assume for a moment that Cruz has accomplishments) will hurt him because voters won’t know about what he has done. I guess that’s a bit of a risk, but Bennet’s ads are airing regularly showing his many accomplishments, though that fish did look pretty small to me, but I digress…

I’m not sure that “Vote for O’Dea: He’s not as crazy as the others” is a winning campaign mantra for the Centennial State in 2022. Ultimately, the Five Thirty Eight article concludes that Bennet likely will win, as there are too many factors lined up against O’Dea. We’ll see.

But in the meantime, it will be an interesting election to watch. Oh, and let’s please try to be a little bit more put off by the British — or any — “royalty.” We are Americans after all.

Hal Bidlack is a retired professor of political science and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who taught more than 17 years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.



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