Colorado Capitol

The Colorado Capitol in Denver.

Politics is the cornucopia of dissatisfaction.

I joked to the staff via email last week when Sen. Cory Gardner’s Land and Water Conservation Funding rescue bill passed out of a Senate committee, an effort to keep money from offshore drilling flowing to public lands. “Well, the environmentalists will love him now,” I typed.

We laughed. Environmentalists didn’t.

Two days later the Sierra Club put up five billboards accusing the endangered Republican of, well, doing what they want, but still being an insincere Republican, secretly sabotaging his own bill. The left would like to see Gardner kicked to the curb to help secure a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate next year.

The next day, a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity told me the organization doesn't want to be called conservative anymore. I told him that's like a stop sign saying it doesn't want to be called red.

As we enter this season of giving, maybe we can put the season of political silliness on hold. We’ve got a whole election year ahead of politicos from all directions trying to convince us of dangers, threats, insincerity and lies.

Let’s take a month, even a day to appreciate what we have in Colorado.

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to his frenemy John Adams in 1816. 

What do we have to feel good about in Colorado? Plenty. This is a place where I could rattle off a list of problems, but I’ll save that for the rest of the year.

Here’s part of a very long list of reasons to feel thankful for your Colorado roots, however deep or shallow.

We’re one of the best: U.S. News & World Report looked at more than 70 metrics and ranked Colorado the 10th best state (though Nebraska, the “Honestly, it's not for everyone” state, is ninth, so there’s that). We have the best economy in the land, and we're 11th for education and 12th in health care. You can always be thankful you don’t live in Mississippi.

Water plan and a trickle: During Gov. John Hickenlooper’s administration, leaders created just what a growing, arid state needs: a long-range, well-balanced water plan to stretch out the supply between people, agriculture and the great outdoors. Voters passed Proposition DD this month. Campaigners for the 10% tax on sports gambling said it would generate — this is wildly optimistic — $29 million a year. The plan needs $100 million, but that’s a start.

Teen pregnancy rate: The issue never goes away, but Colorado stepped back from the culture war over abortion. A Colorado Family Planning Initiative grant in 2008 allowed the state to provide long-acting reversible contraception — such as IUDs — at little or no cost to low-income teens. Colorado’s teen birth rate fell 47% between 2011 and 2018, 24 fewer births per 1,000 teens last year, according to the Colorado Health Institute. That’s good for families and taxpayers. Researchers said the decline translates to nearly $70 million in savings annually in public assistance alone. Colorado also has passed a handful of bills on women’s reproductive health in recent years, providing more options on when to have children. 

Green going: If the air is your thing, then Colorado is probably the place you want to be. Gov. Jared Polis and the Democrats who control the House and Senate have put the pedal to the metal on clean-air and green energy during the past session. The legislature passed a Climate Action Plan to take a closer look at what’s in the air, even though we know most of Colorado’s air problems are transported in from across state lines. The nation has left the Paris Climate Accord, but Colorado has it alive in its heart and laws.

Balance of power: For all we know about the nation’s history of inequality toward women, especially in seats of power, that spirit does not live in Colorado. Our state has no problem balancing power between the genders. Colorado was the first state to enact women's suffrage by popular referendum, in 1893. Women make up 47 of the 100 legislators, including 38 of 60 Democrats. Three House speakers in a row have been women, and Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera succeeded Donna Lynne in the job. Colorado has never had a woman as a U.S. senator or governor, but that day is coming soon.

Regular beer in grocery stores: In the dark ages of Colorado — last year — you could only buy watered-down 3.2% beer in grocery stores, a relic of prohibition. The solons under the Gold Dome in Denver changed all that with Senate Bill 243 three years ago, and when 2019 dawned so did regular brew in the grocery stock.

Speaking of beer: Those who grade beer give Colorado's brewers among the highest marks. We have consistently superior suds, and Hickenlooper, the former governor, Denver mayor and potentially our future U.S. senator, used to host the America's best beer drinker contest at his LoDo pub. When the website Bid On Equipment listed the top 25 cities to open a brewery in June, six were in Colorado: Denver at 4, Longmont at 5, Loveland at 6, Fort Collins was No. 9, Boulder at No. 15 and Colorado Springs was No. 16.

Chug a lug and happy holidays, Colorado. Here’s hoping 2020 has more good cheer than lumps of coal.

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