When asked about a popular restaurant, Yogi Berra put it like only Yogi could. “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”
Well, Colorado has turned into that restaurant.
A fascinating recent report by The Denver Post’s Aldo Svaldi (which I’m pretty sure is the name he made up to start a budget winery) details the demographic shifts happening to our once ruggedly individualistic state. More people are still pouring into Colorado than sneaking out, but the gap is narrowing.
Last year was the first drop this decade in people moving here from other states. At the same time, more people were leaving Colorado than ever before. There were still 30,000 more coming than going, so don’t think our population is shrinking. They’re still flooding in like the Chinese into Korea during the war, and destroying what Colorado used to be.
People have always come here, that’s not news. The real story is people are escaping at record numbers to get away from what the state has sadly become.
Most anti-growth types yap about how all these out-of-state transplants hurt the “character” of their communities. To the point even traditionally sensible places like Lakewood have turned tribal in attempting growth limits, foolishly thinking it will reduce traffic and give them back some elbowroom. Elitist Boulder proves it does just the opposite.
“Character” of communities always changes and we’ll always long for what they used to be like in our younger years.
People are fleeing Colorado not because there’s too many people here or a box store replaced a mom-and-pop shop (don’t worry, the box store will be replaced by Amazon drones, and later something will replace that). They’re bolting because what it is to be a Coloradan has changed.
Deep down in its soul there has been a seismic shift in the spirit of Colorado, in its people. It’s not the change in the physical “character” of our town. It’s the change in the character of our people.
You feel it — we are becoming California.
More than ever Coloradans want to make decisions for other people and engineer how others live. This is wildly antithetical to the Colorado I grew up in.
The personal stories in Svaldi’s report echo this Californication as the reasons our escapees are fleeing: “The growth of our beautiful city has brought nothing but increased traffic, angry entitled transplants who have no respect, and a cost of living that is through the roof.” “Colorado had become very liberal, anti-religion, anti-gun and way too sensitive about stuff.”
Colorado has always been a destination state, perhaps THE destination state in THE destination nation. Why? Because people were drawn to Colorado because it was the place where one could write his own biography.
People who craved the freedom to make their own decisions were pulled to this state by some unseen magnet which created the Colorado Character.
Miners, farmers, ranchers, brewers, artists, techies and businessmen all were drawn here and had one common denominator: a fearless desire to take on risk. They directed their own activities, made their own calls, and through the power of freely associating with others built the greatest state in America. The tales of their failures and successes only powered the magnet more.
The magnet that seems to pull today’s new Coloradans are pretty mountains, a job, and home that somehow costs less than the one they’re selling in California.
The new Colorado character craves the illusion of security and certainty of outcome.
It’s time to rename our state East California.
Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.