In just a little over a decade, the influx of Californians has dramatically altered the societal and political landscapes of Colorado. With that migration, however, came the loss of the independent spirit and freedom-loving lifestyle that, in the past, personified life in Colorado.
One would think that people departing a state that epitomizes American progressive policies, would seek an alternative to California-style welfare state governance. Empirical data suggests the opposite, which leads to the conclusion that most of the people that leave are doing so mainly because they cannot afford to live in California, but don’t object to how the state is being governed. Many Californians are moving to states with a lower cost of living like Texas, Colorado, Tennessee, and Idaho
Let’s take a closer look at the Colorado phenomenon, as an example. It is fair to say that the migration of blue state Californians to Colorado – charged with the communal and government-solution mindsets – has dramatically impacted almost every major facet of daily life for Coloradans. From significant increases in taxes, fees and spending at every level of government to gun control legislation that rivals that of Illinois, it appears Californians have transplanted not only themselves but also the very policies that made them flee the Golden State in the first place.
At its genesis, Colorado was a state that embodied the independent spirit. Independence, self-reliance, and veneration of individualism ran through the blood of those who chose to call Colorado home. The idea that Coloradans would succumb to the overreaching mandates of welfare state government was virtually unforeseeable.
Colorado had been, until recent times, a reliably conservative state, especially when it came to political ideology. It was for this reason that during the 1980s and 1990s Colorado was the epicenter of the national conservative movement. During that time, legislation guarding personal rights and liberties – including a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights – were enacted.
According to the most current US Census, over 365,982 Californians have transplanted to Colorado. To illustrate the enormity of that number, if they all resided in one place, it would instantly become the fourth-largest city in the state.
The influx of Californians into Colorado – along with their progressive liberalism – has resulted in a seismic cultural shift, both legislated and adopted through new social “norms.” With many of these transplants possessing the “activist soul” so prevalent in California, the transplants are either running for office or employing their activist spirit in coercing the politics of native lawmakers, or both. The poison of this political metamorphosis is evidenced in recently passed heavily Left-leaning legislation in Colorado.
In addition to the new restrictions on firearms, an overly expansive family leave doctrine has been embraced. A legislated (read: forced) expansion of green-energy use for rural consumers was enacted. And, Colorado is now officially a sanctuary state, mandating the non-cooperation of law enforcement at the state and local levels with federal immigration and law enforcement authorities.
The once thriving oil and natural gas industries, so responsibly run by Coloradans for decades, have been hobbled by green energy “eco-zealots” who – as in California – protest and lobby against oil acquisition and exploration, as well as anything that has to do with fracking.
The “Californication” of Colorado has progressed to such a level that a group of northeastern Colorado counties have undertaken symbolic but serious votes on secession from the state, an extreme but understandable reaction to the culture creep of progressive liberalism seeping out of California.
By California standards, those fleeing the untenably high taxes of California’s oppressively woke culture consider themselves conservative and to that end don’t understand why for years they have received a cold welcome by many natives. But that chill is waning as more and more of Colorado’s politicians “get woke” to the divisive and destructive malady of Californian “sensibilities.”
While expatriated Californians may be seeking lower taxes, more affordable housing, and better job opportunities, they fail to see that in seeking the benefits of conservative-leaning states, they are killing off their hosts by bringing with them the same progressive liberal social policies that turned California into a dysfunctional economic reality show. And by not holding true to what made Colorado great at its genesis, local lawmakers contribute to the current maladies of once a state that embodies principles of American exceptionalism.
Simply put, formally red states like Colorado are dying because expatriated Californians fail to assimilate to thriving cultures. As long as that continues the foundational uniqueness of cohesive individualism is in danger from coast to coast.
Yuri Vanetik is an attorney who served as California Lottery Commissioner under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute, a California-based think tank.
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