Democrats polling voters on another planet
October 24, 2007
Every so often, I get the feeling that I live on a different planet than the one I read about in newspapers and see on television.Granted, Salida, Colo., could be considered somewhat isolated, since we’re nearly a hundred miles from that wicked modern tool of off-ramp homogenization, the interstate highway. But we get satellite TV, network radio, broadband Internet and national newspapers and magazines, so we can’t be all that disconnected.I wondered about duplicate planets when I saw the latest poll results for the Democratic presidential nomination. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is ahead 46-17 over her nearest rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.I’m a registered Democrat. I’m married to one. Most of my friends are Democrats. Salida is a somewhat artsy Democratic town these days. And I don’t know one person who’s for Hillary.This first came to mind about a year ago when I was in a local shop. The owner, who’s fairly liberal, asked me, “If the presidential election was today, and the choice was between Hillary Clinton and John McCain, which one would you vote for?” I hesitated. More than hesitated, in fact. I stalled.Back then, McCain seemed rather centrist, and even today he stands out from the other GOP candidates because he opposes torture, which should get support from those “values voters” who purport to be Christians.I pondered the question, and finally told her that if those were the two choices, I’d vote for McCain, since he seems to stand for something, while Hillary seems to stand for electing Hillary and not much else. My friend said that for similar reasons she would vote for McCain, too, even if he was generally much too conservative for her.Why the problem with Hillary? She is smart, energetic, well-spoken and hardworking – all desirable qualities for a president.But it’s hard to see her as a champion of the little guy, which is something you expect from a Democrat. She was a corporate attorney, and she sat on the board of the world’s largest retail corporation for six years. If there’s a streak of good old-time Western populism anywhere in her, then she sure keeps it well-hidden.For another, I don’t like dynasties. I like the America they taught us about in grade school, where any kid might grow up to be president. This notion of trading the White House between Bushes and Clintons strikes me as neither democratic nor Democratic.As a Westerner, I have to care about public lands. And if Hillary has mentioned the RAT (Recreation Access Tax, charged to access some public lands) or oil-and-gas drilling that threatens some water supplies, or a half-dozen other issues out here in “flyover country,” then I’ve missed it.Health-care reform will be, or should be, a major issue. She had her chance at that in 1993, and failed. I like government to be open and transparent; she was extremely secretive when her position as first lady crossed into the political arena, as with the White House travel office, or old law-firm billing records, or her health-care task force.Further, there is the great Noise Machine, and she brings it a lot of fodder. We need a president who can deal with Blackwater rather than put us through another rehash of Whitewater. We need to deal with today’s issues and problems, not those of the 1980s and ’90s, and Hillary, whatever her virtues, carries so much baggage from that time that it’s hard to imagine how she could be an effective president.I’ve yet to hear even one person promoting Hillary out here in the boondocks, except for a Republican who thought her nomination would guarantee his party’s victory next year.So what planet are they taking those polls on?Ed Quillen is a writer in Salida, Colo., where he produces regular op-ed columns for The Denver Post and publishes Colorado Central, a small regional monthly magazine.