Colorado's political season got off to its official start on March 16 with precinct caucuses, but even before those gatherings, some candidates had ads on TV.
Among them was Jane Norton, former lieutenant governor and one of several candidates for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. The seat was won by Democrat Ken Salazar in 2004. He was appointed Secretary of the Interior, and his appointed replacement, Michael Bennet, is also involved in a contest for his party's nomination, and his campaign has also aired some advertising.
Back to Norton. Part of her televised message is "We can take our country back."
Like many GOP candidates this year, she's trying to get some Tea Party support. And there's a message you see and hear at Tea Party events: "Let's take our country back" or "It's time we took our country back" or some variation thereof.
Indeed, the unofficial anthem of the movement is a song called "Take our Country Back" by Chris Cassone, who performed it at the 9/12 Rally in front of the U.S. Capitol. He also plans to be there singing it on March 27, when a traveling Tea Party "Just vote them out" series of rallies starts in Searchlight, Nev. (home town of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid), and wends toward Washington, D.C., through Arizona, Utah and Colorado.
But just what do they mean by "Take our country back"? The song lyrics aren't much help; the lines point to the sinister powers of an unnamed "they," as in "Draw a line in the sand so they all understand" or "Soon they'll try to take away the only voices left that say the truth."
The phrase "take our country back" implies that there was a time when "we" had "our country," that something happened since then to dispossess "us," but "we" can organize to get it back.
Now, if this were a rallying point for the Utes, Navajo, Lakota or similar Native American nation, "take our country back" would make sense. I'd understand it.
It might also make sense for hard-core Texans or Californians, since those states were independent republics before joining the United States. While there may be some secessionist sentiment in the Lone Star State these days, the "take our country back" attitude extends far beyond its borders.
So what do they have in mind? Who's the "they" that has at some point swiped the country from its rightful rulers?
Politicians? Since America started governing itself, the government has, pretty much by definition, been run by politicians. So they're nothing new.
Lobbyists? They've been around pretty much since, well, before America was a nation -- Benjamin Franklin went to London in 1757 to lobby the British parliament on behalf of Pennsylvania's.
Pundits? Well, there's Franklin again, along with many other founding fathers, like Alexendar Hamilton and James Madison when they produed the Federalist Papers.
As for economic domination, you could make the case that America was pretty well run by slaveholders before 1861, and after the Civil War came industrialists and financiers. So that may be what's changed, in the sense of there being something to go back to. But I seriously doubt that the "take our country back" rallies are really calling for a return to chattel slavery.
So even though "take our country back" resonates as a slogan, I can't figure out what it means. And I'm a rural white guy with no college degree -- that is, part of the demographic group that really should be able to understand Tea Party slogans.