In the Colorado House, leaders must be followers

You might think that the departure of a rising star among state Democrats would be a bigger deal than this Post story suggests, but state representative Kathleen Curry and party leaders seem eager to downplay Curry's decision to change her voter registration from Dem to unaffiliated.

The move will strip Curry of her position as House pro tem and chair of a key subcommittee and force her to run for re-election as a write-in candidate. Curry says she'll still vote with the Democrats much of the time, but it's clear that she has some trouble following the party line and decided to bail altogether.

Curry told Lynn Bartels that the Democrats "have a big tent...but I do feel in leadership you should march in line more than I have."

That may be the greatest insight we get into this murky situation, or what comprises "leadership" these days. In the tyranny of today's partisan politics--witness the lockstep health-care debate in Washington--there doesn't seem to be any leeway for leaders to actually follow their own consciences and good judgment. We elect leaders to lead, then find out they're getting their marching orders somewhere else.

Is this the beginning of big holes in the big tent? Will Curry going rogue inspire some other disenchanted and entirely too independent thinkers? Don't count on it, but keep an eye on the times she votes nay while the rest of the flock is embracing the gospel of yea.

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast