I have known a few hardcore activists in my life, the kind of people who would step over their own grandmother if it furthered their cause. And while they they may do this with good intent, no other considerations exist outside their particular passion.
I find I don’t get along well with people of this type because, while I admire their fervor, I don’t see the world in simple binary terms. When people like this get political clout, I go from distaste to concern. I am concerned today because I believe Coloradans are at a decision point: Are we going to cede yet more control in this state to rabid environmental activists or will we vote in the kinds of candidates who will stand up to them in the name of commonsense policy?
The exact point at which you or I might strike a balance between being able to afford a decent life and be free to choose for ourselves vs. the need to preserve our environment might be different, but I’m willing to bet that you and I (and all the other everyday people in this state) are a lot closer to each other than we are to the people who have no problem with driving up prices and taking away your choices to meet their environmental goals.
Multiple media reports tell the same story: Colorado has failed to meet the arbitrary greenhouse gas goals set by the Democrat-controlled legislature and regulatory bodies, and environmental groups are pushing for yet more and tighter regulations. Schedules to shut down coal-fired plants are reworked and shortened. Programs and grants are proposed. Some are kept and some aren’t. It is thus far not proving to be enough.
As a teacher I have learned that when students repeatedly fail to do something correctly I need to reevaluate what I am asking of them. I don’t see that with either government or environmental groups, however. Rather than rethink the wisdom of their mandates and targets, hardcore activists from places like 350 Colorado and WildEarth Guardians continue to push on our government to intrude further and further into our live and into our economy. Transportation (i.e. getting to work, taking the kids to soccer, going to the grocery) is the next target. You’ve seen glimpses of what this would look like in full flower: less money for building roads, changes to zoning laws, proposals to tell trucking companies what they should drive, proposals to have your employer keep track of how (and with whom) you drive to work. Do you want more?
I do not personally believe that the progressive Democrats currently running Colorado will work to make policy that respects the environment while at the same time acknowledging that we have to live in the here and now. Going by the maxim that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, if they retain complete control of state government , we will see more of what we’ve seen already. Past the election, safely again seated at the wheel, we’ll see more mandates and more bending to the desires of the hardcore environmentalists.
Our system of government was built to run on tension. By sharing power between different people with different perspectives. By setting things up such that compromise is a necessary component to doing anything, we either get the status quo or we get more centrist policy. It has been to our benefit in the past and will be to our benefit in the future. When you consider who to vote for this November, please keep this in mind. Simply by having one chamber of the legislature in Republican hands, we can start the process of bringing back policy that better serves a broader majority.
I also want to put in a word for speaking up at hearings. Time and time again, I have been on calls to testify or provide feedback and I almost never (surprisingly, even from industry groups that would be hurt by proposed rules) hear anyone besides environmental extremists. Please add your voice to the conversation. You needn’t be an expert. You don’t have to devote hours to this to do your part. Pick an issue that you’re passionate enough on to want to speak up. Find the board or department that governs it. Go sign up for updates. Start writing emails, start making calls. I regularly post on my Facebook page about opportunities and I know the Independence Institute offers trainings.
Speak up and ask those running this state, “is this the proper role of government?”
Cory Gaines, a Sterling resident, runs the Colorado Accountability Project on Facebook.
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