Secession setback aids sound political discourse
It looks like the independent state of northern Colorado will be considerably smaller than proponents had originally planned, now that only five of the 11 counties where secession was on the ballot Tuesday have supported the idea of seceding from Colorado.
We’re pleased to see that voters in Moffat County, the only Western Slope community to consider secession this year, rejected the idea. Even voters in Weld County, where the secession movement originated, gave the notion a resounding “No.”
The votes against secession were also a rejection of the idea that if people don’t get their way politically, they can just go somewhere else where people will embrace them. It’s much like the six-year-old who runs away from home when his parents discipline him.
This isn’t exclusively a conservative idea. Plenty of liberals have declared their intention to leave this country, this state or this community if an important election such as the one this week didn’t go as they wanted it to. That’s a defeatist attitude, one strongly at odds with the ideals of this country.
It’s one thing to pull up stakes to search for better economic opportunities, which Americans and our immigrant ancestors have been doing for centuries. It’s quite another to say, “I’m leaving because my side lost.”
Think of the countless Americans who staked claims to homes and refused to be forced out, even when confronted with incredible hardships — pioneer families in the borderlands, blacks in the Jim Crow South, urban residents who fought off spiraling crime. All of these groups and individuals stayed to try to make things better, rather than running away.
There were legitimate complaints that sparked the secessionist movement in Colorado this year. The state Legislature seemed intent on pushing an agenda that was likely to harm rural Colorado’s economy and its culture while lawmakers paid scant attention to the concerns raised by people in those communities. Meanwhile, Gov. John Hickenlooper did little to restrain the most radical elements in his own party.
But the idea of secession was really a public temper tantrum to gain attention for those complaints, because nearly everybody involved knew it was never going to happen. Even if locals voted in favor of secession, it would still have to be approved by the state Legislature and Congress, which is about as likely to occur as a boom in oceanfront property in Colorado.
And, even if they had somehow been able to secede, what makes them think they wouldn’t face similar problems with their new state? It would still have larger urban areas and isolated rural ones.
Fortunately, the majority of people in most of the counties where secession was on the ballot — and most voters here, as well — recognized that renewed efforts and finding ways to work with the other side are far better responses to political setbacks than giving up and going away.