Today, the Denver Post devotes most of its front page, and a great deal of interior space, to tremendously in-depth coverage of the movement by (mostly) northeastern plains Colorado counties to secede and form a new state informally referred to today as North Colorado. Under a headline quote beginning with the words "they feel they have been ignored," there's a photo of a forlorn 13-year-old rodeo contestant riding a mostly empty carousel in Kit Carson County.
We later learn, reading reporter Monte Whaley's front-page story, that the headline "they feel they have been ignored" quote is none other than Sen. Greg Brophy, Yuma County farmer and GOP candidate for governor–but that is curiously not attributed above the fold. We assume readers will figure that out? We were a little struck by that. And does that mean Brophy is a supporter of secession and a candidate for governor of the rest of Colorado? That's kind of weird. We digress.
All told there are eight articles published today in the Post on the "51st state" movement, telling stories from the various counties where the question will appear on the ballot, as well as two where it won't. Once you get past Sen. Brophy's self-serving headline, the stories go into details about the concerns of some rural residents, while keeping the extreme unlikelihood of success in what we suppose you can call a reasonable context.
We have argued in this space that the mere talk of secession by elected Republican leaders in these mostly sparsely populated counties is not only a major long-term embarrassment to themselves, but actually detracts from what may be in some cases legitimate issues of equitable funding and services in rural areas relative to what the populous Front Range counties enjoy.
Nothing in the oddly expansive coverage of the secession movement in the Denver Post today changes our mind.
Instead of working on solutions to their grievances, otherwise obscure county-level politicians are getting their proverbial fifteen minutes of fame pushing a totally unworkable secession proposal, or the related and equally unworkable "Phillips County Plan" to unconstitutionally gerrymander the legislature by county instead of population. The justifying issues voiced by rural residents interviewed in these stories range from fair questions about mandated staffing levels in a small rural hospital to mindless hot air about how city dwellers "just think that their hamburgers just show up at McDonald's."
The state's new gun safety laws still rate a mention from secession proponents, but as part of a diffuse and in many cases poorly thought-out laundry list of grievances that vary from person to person. What binds them together is the willingness to break up the state of Colorado over these grievances–but you have to wonder if these aren't the kind of people who would propose radical solutions for, you know, just about anything.
Folks, we are straining to be polite about this. We have to admit that the absurdity of this whole business makes that difficult. As citizens of a state that we (and we hope our readers) love, from the mountains to the plains and even including those nasty, godless cities, we're starting to have a more emotive reaction to these radical idiots who happen to hold minor elected office seriously proposing to break up our great state. Our growing irritation with this nonsense is in direct proportion to the extent to which it is being taken seriously by the media.
The fact is, Colorado's original boundaries are not going to change anytime soon. We can think of half a dozen better candidates for a "51st state," places like Washington, DC or Puerto Rico with far more legitimate cases to make for statehood. It's a simple fact that a huge majority of the state's population lives along the urban Front Range corridor, and rural counties are part of a state with an increasingly dominant urban electorate. The interdependency between urban and rural areas is significant, but there's just no way that 4,000 people in a rural county are ever going to "be equal" with 500,000 in any number of Front Range counties. As upsetting as that may be to that 13-year-old cowboy riding the carousel in Burlington, they shouldn't be.
In the end, we hope rural residents of our state are smart enough to see through this irresponsible waste of time concocted by unserious local politicians, and spend their energy on creating solutions instead of self-serving headlines.