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August 25, 2013 11:57 AM UTC

A Few Words on "Taking Secession Seriously"

  • by: Colorado Pols
One proposed North Colorado flag (via Progress Now).
One proposed North Colorado flag (via Progress Now).

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. 

Our original proposal for the flag of
Our original proposal for the flag of “Weldistan.”

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.


54 thoughts on “A Few Words on “Taking Secession Seriously”

  1. The Republican Party seems to have a real problem with the principle of one man, one vote.  Do they really think votes should be apportioned by acreage or number of livestock they possess?  In fairness, wouldn't we then have to complete the work begun by the Roberts Supreme Court, and grant full suffrage to Corporations ("… are people too, my friend")?

    The issues they complain about?  Apparently, their women are being marched into abortion clinics for unwanted procedures (oh, wait, We don't want women to walk into clinics to decide if it is a necessary procedure),  Federal agents are seizing their guns and ammo (well, it could happen!), and worst of all, they are being forced into gay marriages (oh, well, we just don't like it when other people we don't know want to do that).

    If their voices are barely being heard, perhaps it's because their views are not only in the minority, but getting weaker as the younger generation leaves those antiquated ideas behind.

  2. Republicans will do anything other than their job, which is to lower tax rates.  They can’t admit they are Democrat light fiscally(socialist) and moral Taliban, so they come with all this other non-sense.  This lack of focus and responsibility has been transpiring for years, well before Weldistan.


    1. Republicans' job is to lower tax rates, when they are already at a historical low?

      If you want to live in an ungovernable state of anarchy, Nock, Somalia beckons…

      1. Notice I said tax RATES, not tax revenue or government services.  Cut tax RATES.


        Current tax rates and tax revenue are nowhere near historic lows. That is just a silly stupid lie socialist perpetuate.


        Just 80 years ago all American government controlled a mere 9% of all capital, today US government  controls nearly 50% of all capital.


        Somalia is doing rather well all things considered.  Somalia is civilizing rapidly with their stateless society.

        Last time I checked most of America is heading the other direction…

          1. Socialist love to site Somalia as an example of failed anarchy.  In reality, Somalia has communist and socialist roots.  If anything, Somalia is shining example of failed statism. Only the last 30 years has Somali been free, now they stand a chance.  Give them time.  However you must remember the culture religion and make-up of the people.

            Comparing America or any other Nation to Somali is just poor thinking.

            I have no desire to defend Somalia. Honestly that place will probably never succeed regardless of government, just look at the people.

            Besides, I never said I wanted ZERO government, you said that, not me.

            Let me ask you a simple question, if American government is so great, why does it always need more taxes, not less? Efficiency is decreasing rather than increasing, why?


            Additionally, what you are really saying is that limited government folk do not deserve a voice, both parties should be the same( dictatorship) and you are ultimately proving the point if the secession movement!


        1. Albert- someday ,maybe if I'm patient enough, I'll run across some winger who actually knows what"socialism" is.You're quite evidently not the one,nor ever likely to be.

              1. The Postal Service is a self-funding capitalist enterprise. It's only the legislative mandates on pensions, various government oversight functions, and guarantees of universal service (in y'know the Constitution) that gives the impression of socialism.


                Now, the military is a much purer example of socialism in action but who wants to go there?

                1. Since Nock won't ever answer the question I posted above: Socialism, generally speaking, consists of state-owned and run enterprise. There's no prohibition in the definition from that enterprise earning its own money – socialism doesn't mean funded solely by the taxpayer. The USPS is probably the closest we get in this country to pure Socialism. (And yes, I agree that idiotic Republican mandates on the postal service make it look worse than it is…)

                  Medicare pays private providers – even insurance providers. Same with highway funding. NASA contracts mostly private industry. Even the DOD spends a lot of its money these days on private contractors.

        2. I don't know what you think tax rates have been through most of the 20th and all of the 21st century so far but here's a clue, They were much higher under Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan for American citizens than they are now, just for starters.  When Obama came in with his Dem majority the rate paid by most Joe Six Pack working Americans went down. 

          You don't know what socialism is. 

          You would be pissing your pants within seconds of landing in glorious Somalia and probably not lasting a whole lot longer.

            1. Let's see. You don't know what socialism means. You don't know what a tax rate is. You don't know what a contract is. You don't know what a dictatorship is. The list is potentially endless. No wonder your posts are pretty much incomprehensible nonsense. I'm sure Daft would recommend just ignoring you too. 

  3. The best thing any rural area can do for itself is to elect dynamite leaders –regardless of party — to the legislature. It worked for many years for the Western Slope and the Eastern Plains. Lately we've elected buffoons, with predictable results.


    1. I also noticed that the various articles quoted lots of people who were not for secession and whole towns where the idea is pretty widely dismissed and its taken as a given that most young people will have to leave to find jobs. 

      It's just a fact of life that rural numbers are dwindling to the point where they represent very small minorities in a system where the democratic process means majority rule for the most part except when it comes to protected areas such as religion and individual rights.  At the same time these areas have become the bastions of far right pols who swear never to compromise with the "enemy" meaning anyone outside their narrow ideology.  

      When a small minority in a system such as ours is represented only by take no prisoner obstructionists who view compromise as treason, it's simply not going to be possible for that minority to have much of  a voice.  A minority can, however, wield power and have a voice by deal making, giving their support to push something over the edge for one side or the other in exchange for something of value to that minority.  

      Everything else, from secession to joining Wyoming to achieving some form of disproportionate representation based on treating counties more like the way the national government treats states for  Senatorial representation,  is a pipe dream that will never happen and just alienates them further from those with whom they need to co-exist in order to have any power at all.

      As  some of the quoted point out, the fact is that agriculture requires fewer workers and is composed of fewer but larger operations. Those who can't find jobs in oil and gas, something that won't last forever in any one place, leave.  Who among us, rural, suburban or urban, hasn't been saddened by returning to places where we grew up and hardly recognizing a thing there? 

      Seceding from the reality of today won't bring the old days back. Neither will digging in and resisting. Change is what it is and what it always has been throughout human history.  And much of the time those golden olden days were a lot less than golden anyway.

      1. I've written in ad nauseum about this so I'll try not to repeat new thoughts.  I had a rather robust discussion over the weekend with a 'secessionist' [who is also a Brophy for Governor supporter].  In this particular case this person thinks his rural values are being attacked: he does not support marriage equality and he's an avowed 'pro-lifer', although he really falls in to the category of 'pro-birth'.  And his crowd really does believe that urban Democrats are 'godless'. 

        I shared with him that perhaps urban legislators might take some of his concerns seriously if he was something other than a 'one-trick pony': theocracy.  I asked him if he'd support a rural coalition of Republican legislators supporting a living wage or increase in minimum wage [childhood poverty rates in eastern Colorado are off the charts]. There are enough social justice Dems in the legislature that would likely align with such a move.  His response:  NO.  I asked him if he would support a rural coalition of Republican legislators who would support an increased RPS standard on Xcel, increasing their renewable standard to 40%.  There are plenty of Democrats who would support this, but as long as Xcel can count on the Repubs to stand in lock-step against mandates, it is a tougher slog than it should be.  And, those wind farms are going to be built in rural Colorado.  It's a good deal for rural counties – they don't have to invest a dime or lift a finger to get billions in new investment and tax base.  His response:  NO

        I don't look for this initiative to pass either in Yuma County of Weld.  And even if it does pass, it's going no where.  It is an utter waste of time; time a loud minority seems willing to invest.  The days of Bev Bledsoe and Bud Moellenberg are gone.  They were good men, but they also had the benefit of a Republican legislature and a Democratic Governor from Holly who had a good understanding of rural issues. 

        In Romer's day we had the state support of the 'Tri-State Initiative', a collaborative, cross-border approach between Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska to identify regional challenges and opportunities.  It was a powerful coalition and I still contend that if that group had continued we would have averted the long, drawn-out legal battles with Kansas over the Republican River compact.  The Tri-State Initiative was the brainchild of then-Governors Bob Kerrey, Roy Romer and John Carlin in 1987.  All Democrats.  When Governor Owens replaced Romer in 1999, Colorado support for the initiative, for all practical purposes, ended.   

        1. Unfortunately the political world has undergone radical change since the days you speak of. Those in control on the right are not only no longer seeking common ground with anyone else, they actively reject the whole notion of common ground.  No, as you've sadly seen, is the only answer tolerated by the shrunken Republican base to anything that deviates from their rigid views on pretty much everything. The notion of secession seems a natural, if nonsensical, outcome of contemporary GOP base theology dominated ideology.

        2. Michael is correct on all counts. I once was an active Republican when people like Speaker Bev Bledsoe (R-Hugo) and President of the Senate Fred Anderson (R-Loveland and a life long farmer) led the Republcian Party in Colorado and they and other rural legislators, including Democrats like Rep. Shoemaker, insured the rural point of view was considered and blended into legislation. Even though they came from sparsely populated areas or areas that didn't consider themselves part of metropolitan Denver, they were successful and maintained their positions by being sensitive to all points of view, rural and urban.

          Today that has all changed. As Michael and others have pointed out, the rural legislators now hail from a Republican Party that absolutely will not compromise. All issues are their way or the highway. For the most part they believe the institutions we've built and supported in this nation over the past two hundred plus years and in Colorado for over one hundred years are illegitimate, including public education, and social programs like social security and medicare. They have the misguided belief that we as individuals are incapable of forming or managing any public institutions that function properly. For some of them, their theocratic views have led them into a corner where they believe public institutions are inherently evil and must be destroyed. The secessionists is a symptom of the problem.

          The Republican Party is not the conservative party in America any longer. The Democrats are because they are trying to preserve the American way of life while allowing for change where majority opinion has evolved over time (e.g. civil unions). The Republicans believe conservative means an unchanging set of beliefs and laws that can never evolve or be amended. They have forgotten what Edmund Burke, perhaps the greatest conservative thinker of all time, a British member of Parliment and a supporter of the American Revolution, said over two hundred years ago:

          A disposition to preserve, and an ability to improve, taken together, would be my standard of a stateman.

          The Democrats are following Burke's principle. The Republicans are locked into ideological gridlock that forbids them to consider facts or reality. By their own hands, they have chosen the means to their demise.

        3. Excellent Comment.  I especially like the comments about long ago rural leaders.  This is important.  For years the Betz family in Lamar dominated Democratic Politics.  They even had my Grandfather appointed Democratic National Committee Man.

          Wayne Aspinall also comes to mind.  Until the Republicans gerrymandered him into a district with Ft. Collins, he did much for all the rural areas of Colorado.

          How about Dave Wattenberg, the quiet but effective guy from Jackson County?  There are so many examples.

          The problem for all these nuts is that, Republican or Democrat, these people knew how to get stuff done and it involved cooperation and compromise.  That is something that these people in Northern Colorado don't get.

          The fact is that when Bev Bledsoe and Russ George ran the State House they were backed up with large majorities of what are now called "RINO's."  Do I need to say anything more.

          Bev Bledsoe was a true conservative, but he also happened to be pro-choice.  He wouldn't be a Republican today.


          The problem here for rural Coloradoans isn't that they elect Republicans.  It's the same problem for Republicans all over the country.  The inmates run the asylum in the Republican Party and with the many like me who have left the asylum, there's no one to stop them.

          Rural Coloradoans will do better when they send better.  I've previously suggested they need to have a few Democrats (even of the conservative variety) so that at least they are in both caucauses.

    2. not intending to disagree with gertie, rather to be additive. Our legislators need time and staff. I'd suggest that the leg session be extended to 8-9 months and that professional staff be added to assist with writing legislation so that it is less open to question or need to be interpreted by governor or atty gen. CCI could lead an effort by commissioners to provide legislators with the tools they need

      1. Unfortunately, that would never happen. Lengthening the session would mean having to pay legislators more, and we still live with a population that believes they should be paid nothing at all. 

      2. There's a solid case to be made for added professional staff for the legislature, but not for increasing the length of the session. Still, it won't do a thing to improve the performance of buffoons.

        1. The people specifically shortened the session to 120 days by referrendum so me time ago.  It isn't going to change.  Frankly, I think it's just fine.

          As for staff, I don't think they lack staff.  Staff just gets in the way and ultimately, controls what's going on.  That's why we voted for term limits, twice,  To get away from the notion of people being there so long that they're the only ones who know anything.

          As for pay, I agreee 100%.  Legislators are severly underpaid.  Anyone who thinks this is a 120 day per year job, just doesn't know anything.  Those who serve give up a lot, not only during session.

          And finally, this won't serve to really solve the problem, because, the problem is really a monotholithic Republican Party that allows no room for discussion or disagreement.

          1. IMHO they lack the staff they need. And instead of knowledgeable legislators, we now have the only people in the building who know anything being the lobbyists. We didn't improve anything with the term limit measure, and we're doing our legislators a disservice with their staff levels now, especially since they aren't there long enough on their own to get the knowledge they need to counter all the folks who get paid to stand around in the lobby and feed them "expert advice".

  4. " … straining to be polite … "

    I guess I'm too old and tired to strain myself any longer over this kind of utter nonsense — fuck 'em, . . . and the Brophy they rode in on!!!

    It's out of nothing but sheer politeness that these wads have been "ignored" for so long. Truly sensible folks would be looking at cutting their losses by now — I think it's time to explore selling the entire wasteland to Kansas!

  5. I say let 'em go, whether they leave or we put 'em out. If they actually believe they can build infrastructure for an entire state on oil, gas and ag revenues. good for them. But no poaching from Colorado; including the name. Weldistan really does have a nice ring to it. What initially puzzled me, was when I saw Moffat County-clear on the other side of the state- among the secessionists. I remarked to my partner across the breakfast table "If they think they're going to annex a flagpole across three other counties to join up with Moffat, they're likely to have a fight on their hands." Then I read the story. Moffat want's to goto Wyoming?! That'll get 'em better representation, for sure. Bye-bye to them, too. But we keep their namesake tunnel.


  6. Few anywhere seem to note that a "state" of less than 350,000 citizens could find it very difficult to be accepted into the US especially considering the polarization in elected government and the leverage two additional US Senators would bring for such a small group. It would represent a population of less than half the population of the next least populous state, the 699,000 in North Dakota.  Has anyone honestly addressed the chances of acceptance into the Union or the downside loss to the citizens were they unable to be admitted?   Or is this simply a teapot boiling over with cloudlike steam?

    1. Yes. It's been addressed.  It's the reason why the formation of such a new state would never be allowed to happen.  It's a dog and pony show, not a serious proposal.

    1. It's the logical end point of the tea party refusal to compromise. With no compromise your choices become either leave the governing to the majority, or create your own small state of like believers. The thing is, if this was allowed (it won't be), within 4 years they would want to break that new state in two as the other counties got upset with Weld running everything. And then Weld would break up because of differences between various groups.

      1. I can just see it– Windsor, Longmont, and the chunk of Brighton that are in Weld will vamoose as soon as possible back to Colorado. Greeley will become like occupied Berlin. Platteville and points south will vehemently disagree with Eaton and points north and east. Weld County would disintegrate faster than Yugoslavia.

  7. Sorry, Pols. I often worry that we take too lightly some stupidities. W's silly gaffes and outlandish WMD proofs, for instance. I laughed all the way into paying a trilllion or so.

    But this secession stuff is so going nowhere. Let them have their fun. Let county coffers pay for litigation. Let county taxpayers get pissed. Let the capitalists in Greeley and Sterling handle this. The simple economics will soon marginalize the bit players jockeying for TV face time and newsprint quotes.

    And then…the small time loonies who ascend (inevitably) into state visibility will further erode the T-Publican image. And Democrats shall reign forever. And ever. And ever. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

    Not to worry.

  8. I'm actually a bit torn on how to vote on Weld's ballot issue. Either way, the point is moot since there's not a viable mechanism for state secession.


    If the vote fails, I doubt that it will moderate the loons that are pushing this absurdity but at least it will show that Weld isn't completely populated by fools. I don't have a lot of confidence that the issue will lose in an off-year election with nobody taking it seriously enough to campaign against it.


    If Weld votes to secede, the commissioners will be occupied with figuring out the next step and pulling all kinds of grandstanding crap. No doubt there will be lawsuits filed and maybe even some followup nullification attempts on all the big bad liberal legislation out of Denver. There will continue to be national attention on these doofuses as they energetically masturbate in public. The best case scenario is that the giant stockpile of footage and quotes will taint these jerks enough that they'll never be able to run for higher office. Most likely it will just be a big waste of time all around. With any luck, all of the ruckus over secession will crowd out the other thing the commissioners like to spend their time doing- approving zoning waivers for new drill pads.

    I'll admit that I'm leaning toward voting for more rope for the county comissioners to hang themselves with.

  9. I call myself a "damn near native" as  I learned to walk in the house my mother still lives in. I remember when rural Colorado ran the table in the Legislature. The, much smaller, urban corridor could barely get a word in edgewise. Bev Bledsoe was Speaker for my entire childhood and the farmers and ranchers couldn't have cared less what Denver wanted. Back then, the cities were the "red-headed step-children" of rural Colorado. All I can say about poor Weldistan is, "karma bites". 

    1. I ama native,born in Western Colorado. So far West that when my folks wanted to stock up on groceries they went to Vernal, Utah.I graduated, after my military service, from both NJC in Sterling and from UNC in Greeley the best thing I can see about North Colorado is that to see the people in Colorado I really wish to see I can drive around it although from my present location that would mean a trip through either Wyoming or Kansas.It occurs to me that wingers have a tendency to not think things all the way through and this is another example of that  tendency.

  10. Why isn't anybody defending keeping neat rectangular states? Why would Wyoming want a choppy southwestern panhandle? Weldistan is a mess. And as for WeldlessColorado, oh the horror.


  11. The confederate flag is not appropriate. They are proposing to secede from Colorado, not America. That flag is a symbol of racism and slavery and you're smearing good people by using it.

    1. Except that they think they can retake the entirety of the US government, these same people would be clamoring to secede from the country instead, at least in the same semi-hushed tones that some in the South still talk about it.

    2. "That flag is a symbol of racism and slavery . . . "

      . . . and, I'm sure you point that out to every GOPer you meet who has that as a decal or flying from his vehicle, huh??

      (BTW, I'm pretty sure ArapaGOP had multiple confederate flag decals on all his family vehicles — something about a "heritage" thing???)

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