People are naturally cynical about politicians. Sometimes that cynicism is justified, and it can often result from a politician's inability to speak to voters about issues in a way that is relatable to them.
Elias Isquith of Salon magazine recently interviewed Democrat Andrew Romanoff about his effort to unseat incumbent Republican Congressman Mike Coffman. There are several interesting parts to Isquith's wide-ranging interview with Romanoff, but one particular exchange stood out to us as a great example of why Romanoff is such a difficult opponent for Coffman. Take a look at how Romanoff answered a question about Coffman's support for shutting down the government last October:
When Congressman Coffman and his colleagues in the House voted to shut down the government a year ago, that inflicted real damage on Colorado, and I suspect on every other state — and people remember.
To give you some examples: If you were doing medical research at the campus here in Aurora, it’s called the Anschutz Medical Campus, and you can’t get a grant continued and you have to turn patients away because of the government shutdown, you remember. If you’re an employee at the local Air Force base, also here in Aurora, and you don’t know whether you’re going to have a job in the morning because your own congressman shut down the government, you remember. If you’re a senior who doesn’t know whether your Social Security check is going to arrive because your congressman shut down the government, you remember that pretty clearly. [Pols emphasis]
I actually just had this conversation, literally the question you’re asking me, at … one of the doors I was knocking on over the weekend in our district. And a woman asked me, she said, “Why are we paying you guys?” Meaning Congress. “If I don’t do my job,” she said, “I don’t get paid. And I certainly don’t get a vacation or a raise.” And it’s a really basic question. It’s an excellent point, I thought. If Congress operated on a pay-for-performance level, they’d be broke.
So it’s very hard for me to understand, and very hard for my neighbors here to understand, why we’re paying a guy who can’t even keep the government functioning, much less advance the priorities that we happen to share … I’d be thrilled if Congress voted to increase the minimum wage, addressed the student loan crisis; it’d be terrific if Congress took action to close the pay gap between men and women, and certainly it would be a great success if Congress took action on immigration reform.
With just a few sentences, Romanoff clearly outlined how and why the government shutdown directly related to voters and residents in CD-6. Romanoff's straightforward way of speaking about issues and their local relevance draws an incredibly sharp contrast with Coffman and his love of word salads.