It is one of those gifts of coincidental timing that my first Huffington Post Denver piece is on the day when the celebration of Mexico's independence from Spain begins. Tonight at midnight an old and tired bell will ring in Mexico City. It is the same bell that rebels rang when declaring Mexicans free to determine their destiny outside of Spain's control. Spain's power -- initiated through bitter and ruthless invasion -- never became familiar and seamless in Mexico. One of the big reasons that Spain's authority never fully took hold was its policy of keeping those of Mexican lineage as second-class citizens. While the policy served to preserve the Spanish hierarchy's power and privilege it also created an atmosphere of quiet disdain that eventually grew into a coalition of forces that built an insurmountable rebellion. On the 16th of September the bell of freedom rang.
There is a saying in politics -- "If you have problems with your base you have problems everywhere"; Governor Ritter has problems everywhere he looks. Whether it's with union organizers, youngish progressives, or with emergent Latino voters, there are problems as far as the eye can see. Ritter's problems were all so avoidable and most of them were predictable.
The emergence of Latino voters as a political power hitters in Colorado was entirely predictable. In fact, it was predicted. Problematically for Colorado's mainstream Democratic political establishment, it was only foretold by Latinos, and no one is ever a prophet in their own home. If the truth had been researched and integrated, Colorado's top political advisers may have avoided a significant problem now at their doorstep. The problem is Latino "discomfort" with the status quos within the halls of power. Alone that is problematic enough, but when added with the other unhappy members of the Democratic base, Ritter has huge problems.
That is not to say that Ritter is an innocent victim of the problems he faces -- in fact, he may be a significant factor. Whether it is moving against key labor bills or ignoring Latino leaders for key appointments, the combined impact of his own decisions has hurt him. Additionally, when added together younger progressives and independents recognize a pattern they believe to be outdated and felt they had actually voted against in the last election.
As evidence of the political sea change, Ritter is witnessing open party rebellion. Key Latino Democrats have joined with disgruntled progressives and union workers to mount a campaign against the governor's appointed U.S. Senator, Michael Bennet. Whether consciously by some, or unconsciously by others, the real target here is Governor Ritter in particular and the political direction of the Colorado State Democratic Party in general. Bennet is basically an innocent bystander, a witness to history.
Those who dismiss the forces encouraging Romanoff as wild-eyed disgruntled activists should be ignored. There is real pragmatic strategic thought at play here. As proof it is worth note that Romanoff's role in the special session on immigration, while he was speaker, may make him potentially unsupportable to a number of Latino activists. However, Latinos supporting him believe that Romanoff has accepted the challenge of gaining Latino voter trust, and those close to him tell me he is willing to address the special session issue head-on and believe he will overcome it.
So it seems Romanoff has a challenge he is ready to face, and Ritter has a problem he is yet to acknowledge. Ritter and the party elite need to take internal stock. If my sources are correct Romanoff is only the warning bell, which coincidentally rings tomorrow, the 16th, at about ten hours after midnight.
Mario Solis-Marich is a progressive talk show host who can be heard on AM 760 in the Denver metro area and on www.GoToMario.com worldwide.
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