The Death of a Red State

A close race in one Republican stronghold suggests that the politics of bigotry may finally be over


Posted Oct 30, 2008 1:00 PM

Driving down a rainy Colorado highway in October, I can see the misty white outline of the Rockies out one window and the arid brown flatlands of the Great Plains out the other. Overlaying it all is the faint but unmistakable stench of cattle.

I follow the smell.

I have come to the 4th Congressional District in Colorado — a massive territory encompassing virtually all of the state north and east of Denver — to cover the re-election campaign of Rep. Marilyn Musgrave. Musgrave was Sarah Palin before Sarah Palin, a turbocharged born-again supermom who went into politics because she couldn’t stand all the naughtiness. Her first political gig was on the school board in Fort Morgan, where she devoted her energies to blacking out — literally blacking out — passages in sex-education textbooks. Later, as a state legislator, she pushed a concealed-weapon law that would have allowed guns on school grounds. She was a preposterous caricature of an evangelical politician, an Anita Bryant with a beer gut, but like Palin she was already on her way to a Major Elected Office by the time anyone thought to stop laughing. Her first act upon making it to Congress in 2003 was to introduce an amendment to ban gay marriage. She declared unequivocally — after 9/11 and the launching of two wars — that the union of same-sex couples is “the most important issue we face today.” Continue reading