Opinion | Paul Olson: Shuffling state borders to avoid discomfort
When I talk to friends back in the Midwest, they will make comments that show their ignorance of many aspects of Colorado. No, we do not all live in log homes. No, Denver is not in the mountains. And we aren’t all marijuana-smoking liberals. If you use counties as your measure, Colorado looks fairly conservative. In the 2020 presidential election 40 counties gave Trump the majority vote and 24 favored Biden. It is the populous central counties that have made Colorado a blue state but the conservative influence gives us a balance of ideas.
Colorado is my favorite state not just because of the scenic beauty but due to the open-minded, friendly people I have found everywhere. No matter what social or political views we hold, it seems to me the vast majority of us are proud to be Coloradans and work together for the benefit of our communities and state. There is far too much focus in the news on the political extremists, but it appears that moderate views carry a lot of weight in Summit County and in the Colorado legislative buildings.
A few weeks ago congressional agitator Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted, “We need a national divorce. We need to separate by red states and blue states and shrink the federal government.” The reason she shouts out this provocative statement (besides wanting to be in the spotlight) is because her party does not control the Senate and the White House. If the Republicans controlled everything, she would believe America was near perfect.
There are some misfits in eastern Oregon (GreaterIdaho.org) who take Representative Greene’s divorce idea too seriously and want to redraw the state border to be part of Idaho. They dislike the big city liberals in Portland who do not share their “rural values” as would the nice folks in Idaho. It is easy to visualize the sad result. There will be two dominant parties in Idaho, the Republicans and the Wacko Republicans. In Oregon there will be the Democrats and the Wacko Democrats. And everyone will be worse off because moderation and sane debate will be a thing of the past.
Have these misguided folks ever noticed how one-party countries like China and Russia have little regard for the rights of citizens? It will be the same in one-party Idaho where the extremists will try to pass laws to place limits on the media for reporting on government corruption and mismanagement. Or politicians will dictate the curriculum and books used in schools. We have seen these limits to freedom of speech being imposed in Florida in recent months. In March, Idaho lawmakers approved a bill that would allow execution by firing squad. I wonder if this is part of the rural values those in eastern Oregon are seeking.
I was disappointed to read that the Colorado Republican Party recently voted to make election denier Dave Williams the party chairman after election denier Tina Peters threw her support behind him. This GOP move toward extremism is as counterproductive as the Oregon conservatives wanting to join Idaho. The Colorado GOP needs to stop chasing conspiracies and become a viable party that provides a reasonable alternative to the Democratic Party. We need healthy debate in the Colorado statehouse that focuses on the economy and responsible budget management: the issues that really matter to most Coloradans.
There have been serious efforts in Colorado in the past 10 years by some eastern counties to form a 51st state — and by Weld County to become part of Wyoming. Just as it is important for Oregon to stick together for the good of their state, those in Colorado who feel their opinions are being ignored need to hang tough and stay in the debate. Colorado is stronger because of our diversity: rural and urban, conservative and liberal, blue collar and white collar, skier and snowboarder. And why would anyone consider leaving the coolest state in the nation?
I was cheered by a Colorado Sun report of a refreshing level of bipartisanship in the Colorado legislature. As of March 17, of the bills that passed in at least one chamber, 48% had bipartisan sponsorship. And 91% of the bills approved by both the Senate and House had unanimous or bipartisan support. Our representatives are talking to each other.
Your teacher in kindergarten would award a gold star if you played well with others. This virtue is even more important in middle age when our community and state need our cooperation. The easy choice is to run away to be with your clan where everyone is just like you. But that soon gets boring and is not good for Summit County or Colorado where diverse backgrounds and a wide range of ideas is what gives us our thriving economy and vibrant community.
Paul Olson’s column “A Friendly Conservative” publishes biweekly on Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. Olson has lived in Breckenridge since 1995. Semiretired, he works at REI in Dillon and enjoys snowboarding, Nordic skiing and hiking. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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