2013

22 May 2013: Colorado Dems Deliver

Colorado Dems Deliver

Governance is far easier in states such as Utah, Idaho, or Texas, where the minority is effectively ignored since it has no potential for upsetting the ruling culture.  The zeitgeist—prevailing popular opinion—in those states is decidedly rightwing/conservative, so any chance for a liberal voice to be heard is equivalent to the biblical lamentation of a “voice crying out in the wilderness.”

I suppose the knee-jerk retort would be “that’s true as well in blue states,” but I would disagree.  However, we might be able to agree that in a state such as Colorado—one of the few remaining swing, purple states—governance can be more of a challenge because the minority is sufficiently strong and poised for a comeback should the political winds blow contrarily for the majority, which can cause them to be constantly looking over their political shoulders.

Quivering in their boots is one way for a majority to behave; the other would be to act on principle and in accordance with their mandate.

That is what the Democrats in the legislature did this past session, and as a consequence a few, instead of enjoying some much-deserved R&R, face the draining task of defending their seats against recall efforts by disgruntled and apoplectic Republicans who believe they should rule despite their decidedly minority status.

In short, the Dems delivered.  I wish it were more, but I also understand that the Democratic Party is not a dogmatic political institution that calls out its members for heresy, much as does their major political opposition does.  Unlike their purist counterparts, Democrats are for the most part a pragmatic bunch that resists eating their own.  RINO—Republican in Name Only—is a Republican phenomenon; a Democrat in Name Only—DINO—is a non-sequitur.

Hence, although I disagree with Gov. Hickenlooper on his all-too-cozy, suck-face relationship with the gas and oil industry, which impedes a common sense approach to fracking rules, and on his unwillingness to do away with capital punishment, I am happy he’s my governor.

Sometimes acting on principal and pragmatism—dealing and finding solutions within the reality of a situation rather than taking an ostrich, head-in-the-sand approach—can be one and the same.

Common sense says rounding up the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, putting them on cheese wagons (public school buses), and forcing them to recross some border—for they’re not all likely conveniently Mexican—would hardly be practical.  Given that, it would be practical to deal with the reality of their presence in a humane and common sense way: providing for in-state tuition for their children who stayed with their parents in accordance with family values as well as drivers licenses to make our roads safer, for example.

Minimal gun control measures that provided for limiting firepower to no more than fifteen rounds, universal background checks, and charging buyers for the check were passed despite poll numbers of 60 to nearly 90 percent in support of them.  The NRA was infuriated, of course, which reinforces the propriety and sobriety of the new laws.  And by the way, contrary to the drumbeat of conservative, Republican Party talking points, neither Vice-president Joe Biden presence nor New York City mayor Michael Blumberg’s money were instrumental.

Civil Unions passed allowing gays and lesbians a back seat on the marriage bus.  That’s great news until one compares us to Minnesota, which became the 12th state to allow gay marriage.  There’s work to be done, but for sure, the civil union law is a step in the right direction.

Kudos to the legislature for trying to fix the unfair way we fund public schools, which flies in the face of our constitutional mandate for a “thorough and uniform” education for all through age 21.  So, given that, explain to me why plush districts such as Cherry Creek are allowed to educate their children more effectively than the parents in Kit Carson or Antonito?  Time will tell if the new law helps bring an even-handed approach to school funding, but my hope is that it’s too a step in the right direction.

Finally, credit the legislators for taking head on the marijuana usage, both with regard to taxation and driving while under the influence, and other issues demanding attention such as child welfare and protection.

The 2013 session was often cantankerous, but representative democracy is a messy business.  So, a tip of the hat to our representative Claire Levy, our erstwhile senator Jeanne Nicholson, and their colleagues for a job well done.

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