The national elections of 2016 taught us two very stark lessons: People will vote against their own interests and their own espoused values if they feel desperate enough, and politicians are the most reviled people in the country.
We all make resolutions every year, and politicians both local and national clearly need to take a long and hard look at who they are and what they stand for — and what positive steps they can take in either party to improve the nation as a whole and Colorado specifically. Here are seven to start with:
7. We will stay true to the tenets of American government.
Colorado’s senators and representatives on the national stage could and should lead by example; our state legislators — as well as not only all of this state's elected officials, as well as Colorado voters — should demand that they do so.
6. We will effectively address homelessness.
It’s nice that Denver has, at this point, sworn not to take away blankets from the homeless in the winter; you’d think that nicety would go without saying. But now’s the time to do more than stop the sweeps; it’s time to actually do something about the issue itself. There are lots of options: One is being piloted (or at least proposed) in RiNo, where yurts will be raised and maintained, complete with chemical toilets on site. St. Andrews, in Five Points, is considering a similar idea, only with a tiny-house concept it's borrowed from Seattle. These aren’t the only solutions possible, but they’re actual options, as opposed to what we’ve settled for previously: good intentions and very little progress.
5. We will protect pot.
Colorado has been a national leader in the movement to decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana and its usage, and given some statements by the new administration, that could be at risk. No matter what the national response (and their own personal preference), Colorado's politicians need to devote themselves to defending the wishes and the vote of Colorado's citizens regarding pot. That's not just the right thing to do; it’s also important to keep working toward the goal of effectively utilizing the significant tax dollars that the pot industry has begun to create. And speaking of how to spend those monies…
4. We will champion education.
Part of the promise of marijuana tax dollars was that some of the money was going to go toward education — and for the love of Welcome Back Kotter, Colorado needs it. In 2016, our state earned only a C- grade for K-12 education (that’s a 71.81 percent) from the Quality Counts report card for all fifty states, and ranked 49th (beating only New Hampshire). Our legislators have to work to turn that around both nationally and at the state level — and not by just approving more charter schools that can work outside the system. With our revenues, we should be able to lead the education charge just as much as we have with marijuana.
Keep reading for three more resolutions.
3. We will believe in science.
Everyone — and this includes the good people of Colorado — needs to stop pretending that their own faith, whatever it may be, in some way supersedes the reality that the rest of us live within. Science isn’t debatable, and it’s taken more than enough abuse over the years. For centuries, America lived with both strong and various faiths and a genuine admiration and confidence in science. How those two things became incompatible for some Americans — too many Americans, too many of them Coloradans — is up for debate. But the time has come, for the sake of our parks systems, for our environment, for our intellectual and physical well-being, to accept science — and expect our legislators to lead by example.
2. We will keep fighting for all human rights.
Supporting marriage equality and non-discrimination policies for the LGBTQ community. Accepting and addressing the serious racial issues in our nation (many revealed and punctuated by the Trump phenomenon). Confirming that women have the right to make decisions for their own bodies (and have those decisions covered under insurance just as much as their male counterparts can score their Viagra). Colorado has a storied past of being at the forefront of civil-rights issues exactly like these, including being the first state in the union to grant women's suffrage by a single-issue popular vote back in 1893. Colorado’s politicians must work to continue this legacy in terms of making sure we all live in the same state with the same rights and the same opportunities for health and happiness.
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1. We will fight.
Because now is the time. Republicans and Democrats both need to find the courage to come together, work for the real common good, and once and for all stand up for truth, justice and the American way—you know, wherein lies the real greatness of Colorado and America.