Rocky Mountain News writer Jim Tankersley makes the argument that “values” don’t have to be conservative values to resonate with voters. The trick may be just to use morally correct language. For example, Senator-Elect Ken Salazar is pro-choice and pro-civil unions, but he outperformed John Kerry in Colorado. Why? Tankersley attributes much of Salazar’s advantage to his touting of his Catholic faith and San Luis Valley values during the campaign.

How would Democrats create a value-laden message? Tankersly suggests these substitutions:

  • “Lifting up the Poor” for tax policy
  • “Taking care of seniors” for social security, and
  • “Preserving a shared space” for environmental concerns.

Tankersly makes another observation: If Kerry had taken Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, he would be President-Elect today. He posits that Democrats should forget the South and go after the Southwest vote. All a candidate needs, he says, is authenticity — thinking like a “maverick and moderate.”

In other words, forget the L.L. Bean look and go for the cowboy boots. Sounds pretty simple.

Maybe too simple.