I recently ran unsuccessfully as the independent candidate for the state House here in House District 59. I’ve been asked why I’ve taken so long to write about my campaign.
For me, the campaign is ongoing, and until the complaints that were filed against me and Unite Colorado are resolved, I am still figuring it out. Once those complaints have run their course, I will share the results regardless of the findings.
Rep. Barbara McLachlan and I met earlier this month and spent a couple of hours talking about the campaign and our ideas.
I congratulated her, telling her that as my representative in Denver, I hope she is successful fighting for our district. I shared some of my hopes and fears, and we agreed to stay in touch.
The reason for this column is not the campaign, but to discuss the partisan Christmas gift elected officials in Washington D.C. have given to the American people.
There have been 20 U.S. government shutdowns in our nation’s history, starting in 1976, and this is the third time the government has shut down this year.
Shutdowns are not a function of governance, but an inevitable byproduct of partisan politics.
We often hear that elections have consequences, and for partisan politicians, this seems to mean that if their team won, the other side must capitulate.
Inevitably, this sets up partisan reaction; to borrow a phrase from Martin Luther King, partisanship begets partisanship.
This concept ignores the fact that ours is a representative democracy, where decisions are supposed to be driven through a series of checks and balances between the separate and equal branches of government.
In a system where politicians’ first duty is to their people rather than to their parties, the result should be compromise and consensus.
When politicians put party first, compromise is seen as weakness and a scorched-earth approach to ideology takes its place. In a system ruled by a duopoly, governance takes a back seat to consolidating power for each party, and the needs of the people are ignored.
It is my hope that what is happening in Washington is a cautionary tale for the newly elected/reelected officials who are representing us in Denver.
Throughout the campaigns we heard a history and series of promises from politicians from both parties of bipartisanship and cooperation.
I hope they remember this now.
I urge Democrats not to overreach because they can, nor for Republicans to become the opposition where “no” is the answer to every proposal.
I ask all our representatives and senators from rural Colorado, and the governor, to remember that regardless of which party they come from, they represent people who include Republicans, Democrats and independent voters.
I ask them to come together to resolve the tough issues that are strangling rural Colorado’s growth: resolving the conflict between Gallagher and TABOR, controlling unaffordable health care costs on the Western Slope and fighting to protect water.
I ask the citizens to stay engaged and to hold our elected officials accountable. Colorado has a great system of transparency if folks choose to use it.
You can follow each of your elected officials and their votes through the Colorado General Assembly web page at leg.colorado.gov, and if you don’t trust government or find the page cumbersome you can get a summary at Colorado Capitol Watch at coloradocapitolwatch.com or at Ballotpedia.
These politicians represent you, and if you want to be heard, you must participate.
It’s not hard, it just takes some time.
I wish the residents of rural Colorado a happy and prosperous New Year, and as always, if you have questions of comments, please give me a call at 970 641-1993.
Paul Jones recently retired from a career with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. He was the first independent candidate to run for state House District 59. He lives in Gunnison.