A state of delusion

Zane Womeldorph
Zane Womeldorph

Politics is rife with ridiculous ideas, most of which seem to come from the right for some reason, like Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” nonsense or anything that comes out of Glenn Beck’s mouth.

Topping this list of absurdity has to be the recent move by several counties in northeastern Colorado — including Weld County, our neighbor to the east — to attempt to secede from our lovely state and make their own.

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According to Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, many in rural Colorado feel like they are “under attack” by the city-boy liberals in Denver and that it is time to “vote Denver and Boulder off the island” — which is pretty funny when you consider that the proper analogy would be that Denver and Boulder are the island and Greeley is kind of like the ratty old pier that everyone secretly hopes will get washed away in the next hurricane.

The “attacks” being perpetrated on these rural denizens stem mainly from the last legislative session, where a Democrat-controlled Statehouse passed a spate of moderately progressive reforms in all the areas conservatives like to imagine threaten their very way of life.

These assaults include universal background checks on gun sales between private individuals, limiting gun magazines to 10 bullets or five shotgun shells (but still allowing magazines owned prior to the implementation of the bill to be grandfathered in) and raising the renewable energy requirement for energy companies from 10 percent to 20 percent by 2020.

To some this might seem like a noble stand against a tyrannical government that no longer represents their interests. Unsurprisingly, the website for the initiative begins by quoting the Declaration of Independence, and another Weld County Commissioner invoked Gandhi in a reference to India’s struggle for independence from Britain.

Because, you know, being angry and annoyed about renewable energy and limits on magazine size is pretty much the same thing as trying to free your nation from colonial rule.

In reality, this is just a last desperate gasp from those still clinging to a dying, Bush-era mentality and a childish move aimed at getting attention. Sort of like a spoiled kid packing his little rolling suitcase and threatening to run away because mom and dad unplugged his PlayStation, hoping that they will chase him down the street screaming apologies and promising to never do it again… but without the excuse of youth to offer some cover.

The population of the nine counties either putting this motion on their ballots or considering it constitutes 6 percent of the population of Colorado. Four of those counties have less than 5000 people, including mighty Cheyenne County, with a voting age population barely topping 1400. That’s about the size of my high school.

Unfortunately for these people, Colorado is no longer a strictly red state, and trying to hold the large majority of the population hostage to a loud and whiny subset is irresponsible, immature and entirely counter to the idea of democracy.

After decades of GOP dominance in the state — before 2008 Colorado voted red in every presidential election since 1968, except for Clinton’s election in 1992 — the tides have turned and the Democrats now have control. Sometimes in politics your team loses, and for some reason those on the right can’t handle it without freaking out and jumping to something drastic and ridiculous.

The very notion of secession signifies a desperate acknowledgment of the dire straits of the GOP’s current ideological model. The people out east might want to live in a conservative paradise where the carbon pours into the atmosphere with abandon and there are more guns than people, but the majority of Coloradans want these regulations. In a democracy, the majority rules, and in order to make government work we must all accept that.

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It seems that the secessionists have forgotten this concept, as highlighted by another of their proposals that would alter the representative structure of the state Senate to have one senator elected from each county, which would automatically ensure GOP dominance. This would mean that the 1,874 residents of Cheyenne County would be represented by one senator, and so would the 634,000 residents of Denver County. This would mean one Cheyenne County voter is worth 352 Denver County voters. That sounds fair.

The 51st state will never happen. Its secession has to be approved by both the Colorado and the federal governments, both of which are highly unlikely even if voters in these counties approve the ballot measures. In the meantime, the people wasting everyone’s time with talks of secession should find a more reasonable route to remedy these perceived attacks.

Zane Womeldorph is a senior journalism and political science double major. He delivers pizzas with unheard-of skill and speed. He can be reached at letters@collegian.com.