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October 19, 2014 02:48 PM UTC

Rural Votes, Fertile Soil

  • by: MichaelBowman

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

My grandfather, a depression-era farmer, knew the value of tending to his seedlings.  For him the seed needed a good beginning: fertile soil, nutrients, good soil tilth and cooperation from from Mother Nature. For the inputs he could control, he was indeed a stubborn steward.  He also had two staunch beliefs: there was no other tractor than a John Deere, and his planter of choice was his red, International Harvester wheat drill. With only an eighth-grade education as his foundation he understood, with great clarity, the value of making prudent investments in labor and inputs. His reward would be a full grainary.

Our children are no different than Granddad's tender wheat sprouts.  Without access to pre-natal care, a stable home, living wages, food security and a solid education there is no amount of money society can invest later in a child's life to successfully fill those voids.  As a fifth-generation Coloradan myself who grew up in the small farming and ranching community of Idalia (pop. 100), I got lucky.  "The Village" made sure we had all that we needed to become productive adults.  In those days our region was aptly-represented by rural titans like Bud Moellenberg and Bev Bledsoe – thoughtful men who not only earned the respect of urban legislators, but understood the important role and contributions of rural Colorado to the state's economy.

They represented the best of the human and political spirit.  

Unfortunately, their style of politics have become extinct.

This election presents us with stark differences between two candidates vying to represent us in the United States Senate.  Only one of those candidate embodies the leadership and vision necessary to achieve the kind of 21st-century rural economy we know is possible.

A decade ago then-Congressman Udall co-chaired the bi-partisan Amendment 37 campaign, an initiative to provide access for  renewable energy in our state grid.  Today, eastern Colorado is the beneficiary of the Senator's vision: nearly $6 billion in wind farms dot the eastern plains.  The Senator is now co-sponsoring a national standard that would deliver billions of dollars in new opportunities to rural areas across the nation.  

When the chips were down and the American Petroleum Institute was waging war on our ethanol industry, the Senator took on the matter and in a letter of praise from the Colorado Corn Growers Association was commended for his role in thwarting Big Oil's efforts.

Congressman Gardner led a fight in the House to remove $40 billion from food assistance, negatively affecting hundreds of thousands of challenged Coloradans. His attempt to gut that program hit a firewall in the Senate, thanks to the vote of Mark Udall.

While Congressman Gardner stood in solidarity with his fellow House members to summarily dismiss a move to increase the national minimum wage to $10.10, Udall faced a Republican filibuster in the Senate.

Congressman Gardner denies that climate change is human-caused. In fact, he has signed a pledge to the Koch Brothers promising Congressional inaction, even though a recent poll shows that fewer than 20% of Coloradans share Gardner's view.  Senator Udall understands the risks of inaction and our opportunity to lead the world in the 3rd Industrial Revolution: Clean Energy.

The difference of opinion between the two magnifies how one candidate champions innovative ideas and prudent public policies that make a difference in the lives of rural Coloradans every day, while other is woefully out-of-step with the needs of his fellow citizens.

Let's aspire to a bumper crop of next-generation Coloradans. This will be a Herculean effort that requires leadership grounded in good public policy. Let's empower communities to develop their energy resources. Let's assure that each and every child is nourished and well-educated.  Let's be fair; no one who works full-time should live in poverty.

The fertile soil awaits.  

Re-elect Senator Mark Udall



10 thoughts on “Rural Votes, Fertile Soil

  1. This was my submission to the Denver Post (that was rejected) as a guest commentary.  As opposed to just hitting delete, I thought I'd share it with the Pols community – and add a couple of pictures.  The top picture is of my grandfather next to his team of horse circa 1928 near Idalia, CO.  The bottom pic is of my grandson, his great-great grandson, Braylon Twiss. 

    1. The Denver Post made yet another poor decision in rejecting your guest commentary piece. I think that the photos add dimension to the story. 

      The wind farm jobs and energy contribution seem to be yet another under-reported one in Colorado. While our elected officials inflate the numbers of hypothetical oil and gas jobs, they never seem to talk about the renewable energy jobs that exist now.

      This leaves the discussion up to tea party extremists who lie about the renewable energy standard increasing utility bills. This is a flat-out lie, but rarely challenged. We must seize the narrative!


      1. Agreed ~ !!  As you link states, we have the capacity in Colorado to generate 24x more energy than we consume; we have only touched the tip of the 'transition iceberg'.  Utilities are faced with the decision to adapt or die.  For some, it's already too late.  Storage is the next frontier.  I met with a consultant today who is principal on a large flow battery demo in New York that is knocking the socks off its performance rating.  We have a very exciting future that awaits if we can keep the politics and the fossil-fuel lobby out of the way. 



  2. Michael, Have you thought of submitting this fine article to the Aurora Sentinel , telling them that the post rejected it? The Sentinel endorsed both Udall and Romanoff. The 6th CD is voter rich and this could influence some undecided voters to support both Udall and Romanoff.

        1. Voyageur – a great 'grandad' story for you:  he and my grandmother married in the Great Depression.  Granddad purchased his first tractor, a John Deere 'D' in 1931- smack in the throes of the Great Dust Bowl – and suffered back-to-back crop failures.  People from John Deere came for a visit to repossess the tractor, but after spending a meal with my grandparents they agreed to go with them for one more crop.  Well, they got a crop, and the rest is history – and from that point on, there was nothing but a Deere (tractors and combines!) for him.   

          We buried him in 2004 wearing his John Deere hat and the keys to his last tractor (a 9300 JD 4WD pictured below) in his hands.


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