West Slope folks more likely to be grounded in framers’ ideas

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “The rich are different from you and me.” Whether that is true, one thing is certain: Many of them vote differently than the majority of us in western Colorado. They vote mostly for Democrats.

Despite that party’s attempt to paint Republicans as the party of the rich, an analysis of new census data by USA Today found Democrats in the House represent the interesting combination of the richest and poorest, best- and least-educated and best- and worst-insured districts in America.

It seems a strange combination until you start analyzing the coupling. On one hand, you have the super rich, who have already made or inherited their fortunes and would just as soon pull the ladder up behind them from the middle class. They are also eager to placate the tax and regulation writers, who are increasingly the key to making and keeping fortunes.

On the other hand are the unfortunate recipients of the Great Society failures. The main accomplishment of Great Society programs has been to persuade people on the lower rungs of the economy that no achievement is possible without government intervention and largesse.

The matching of these unlikely bedfellows can be glimpsed by looking at a county-by-county map of the voting patterns in the last election. Great swaths of middle America and the West are colored red, while tightly grouped clusters of blue are found around the extremes of failing cities and gated communities.

The point is that we here in the West don’t fall into either one of these dependent categories for the important reason that we are most likely to understand the minds of our founders, the spirit of the Constitution and the kind of nation it aimed to create.

The farmer in Fruita, the waitress in Delta and the mechanic in Clifton often have a more fundamental understanding of the minds of our founders and what they were hoping to accomplish than all the urban politicians and big-city organizers. This is true because we live our lives in ways much closer to those of the framers than people who now dwell in most of the former colonies.

We understand the need for independence and self-reliance that comes from having to count on ourselves to make our way in life.

If things get more than we can handle, the person we’re most likely to turn to is our neighbor, not a far-off government agency. A rancher working stock on Dallas Divide still understands what was going through George Washington’s mind as he supervised work in his fields at Mount Vernon or John Adams at his farm during the cold Massachusetts winters.

Some might wonder how that could be, when so many of our political leaders are big-city lawyers who must be well-versed in the Constitution. Our president even taught constitutional law for a while. Surely he understands its spirit.

That could be true, but it all depends on the reason one studies something. Bank robber Willie Sutton studied safes, not because he admired them or wanted to improve them, but so he could get money out of them.

— — —

In Colorado, we have scores of politicians who know much about the Taxpayers Bill Of Rights, but not because they like it. They study it the way a burglar looks at an alarm system — as part of his effort to figure ways around it.

Recently, courts in Colorado have acted as the screwdriver in this grand rewiring of our TABOR Amendment.

A new and troubling example of this effort to reach a conclusion with which most of us would disagree was performed this very week in the Colorado Supreme Court.

The state’s high court decided that the constitutional requirement which says school district funding must be uniform and thorough was no longer the exclusive duty of the Legislature. It may now fall within the authority of state courts to determine whether school funding meets some, as yet unknown, standard of constitutional adequacy.

Why do I think this will ultimately be another attempt to loosen one of the wires from TABOR’s alarm? Just obvious, I guess.


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