Cowboys and Highrises

Ostara and the Ovid Moon of the Metamorphoses

Tuesday gratefuls: Colorado. Snow. Guns. Boulder. Mountains. Deer. Elk. Fox. Moose. Squirrels. Dogs. Horses. Cattle. Pine Martins. Marmosets. Pika. Rattlesnakes. Ponderosa Pine. Lodgepole. Water. Rock.

Sparks of joy: Bacon-Cheeseburger Meatloaf from Easy Entrees. Jon’s poem to Kate.

 

The West. And, Colorado. Was gonna write something about Colorado as a bellwether state using the current controversy over wolf reintroduction as a starting point. But Boulder, 10 dead in a King Sooper grocery yesterday, makes a starting point, too. Which to choose?

Think I’ll pick Laura Boebert as a way to get into it. You’ve heard of her, I imagine. Currently and sadly she represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. I could describe her in the following manner and we’d be into the subject matter: Owns Shooter’s Grill in Rifle (!) where all the waiters and waitresses carry while serving. Colorado’s 3rd District encompasses all of what we call the Western Slope and well into the state from there. (see map above)

Once she got to D.C. she got sideways with D.C. police and the D.C. mayor by declaring she was going to carry on the streets of the Capital. Nope. Then she said she would carry onto the floor of the House. Not sure where that stands right now, but you get the sort of person we’re dealing with here.

Boebert is the Michelle Bachmann of Colorado politics. I do not live in the 3rd though, I live in the 2nd, and Joe Neguse, an impeachment manager and a rising Democratic star is my Congressperson. I did live in the Congressional District Michele, my Belle, represented. I could hardly raise my head during political discussions.

Think of Boebert as an archetypal figure. Maybe Hera. Or, Medea. She represents not only the district, but the more usual, male archetype of rural Colorado, the cowboy/rancher. Libertarian. Committed to the wide-open spaces, for good and bad. Bad, shoot sheepherders, wolves, anything that seems to threaten. Good, keep the lands open for wildlife, conservation easements, not sold for development.

A Rockies Game, downtown Denver

When I moved to Colorado, the lack of cowboy/rancher culture surprised me. I expected to see a lot more cowboy boots, Western shirts, horses, and guns. If I had moved to Boebert’s District, I would have found what I imagined.

The Denver metro, of which Conifer and Evergreen are now exurbs, is a different place entirely. Here East Coast culture washes up against the mountains of the Front Range, penetrating in a ways, maybe thirty or forty miles, then Western rural Colorado begins. Oddly, another chunk of Colorado rural cultures lies between the eastern boundaries of the Denver metro and the Nebraska/Kansas state lines.

So the Front Range and its attendant urban culture lies between two sparsely populated areas with very different political inclinations. The wolf debate, which culminated in a squeaker of a win, 50.4% of voters said yes to reintroducing wolves, neatly divides the two Colorados.

Last election cycle several counties expressed a desire to secede and join the state of Wyoming. One of those counties was an urban one, Weld, so the division is not monolithic; just as it isn’t in the West with Eagle and Summit Counties being markedly blue. But the divisions are real and difficult.

The Western Slope, for example, has most of the water resources in the state. They don’t like urbanized Colorado taking “their” water. Especially when it’s used to support more growth in the form of pointy headed liberals moving into the state.

Nor do they like wolves. One Western country, Rio Blanco, has already declared itself a sanctuary county. A sanctuary from the state’s wolf reintroduction that is. Several others will probably join it. State law supersedes county regulation and they know it.

Last year the legislature here passed and Gov. Polis signed a law allowing sheriff’s to remove guns from the home of persons found mentally ill or a danger to themselves and others. Again, several county sheriff’s have refused to enforce the law.

Now, the Boulder shooting yesterday. Add it to Columbine, the Aurora movie theater, the STEM school, Planned Parenthood, and the random street shooting of 3 persons in Colorado Springs. Boulder had an assault rifle ban struck down 10 days ago after legal action by the Mountain State Legal Foundation, a Colorado group to the right of the NRA.

At the same time Colorado was the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana, elect a gay governor, and decriminalize (somewhat) psilocybin. Denver has been the number one destination for millennials for some time. The space industry is big here and attracts many highly educated folks. And, as I said above, in a state proposition win, ordered the state department of natural resources to reintroduce wolves.

24000 acres surrounded by reality is a description of Boulder often quoted. Also, The Republic of Boulder. Boulder is the home for the University of Colorado’s biggest campus, has the highest home valuations in the metro, and many high tech companies have representation there.

As you can tell, the frisson between rural and urban is a hallmark of Colorado politics in the 202o’s. It will only get more difficult. Denver’s growing at a fast rate, not as fast as ten years ago, but at a healthy pace. That means more and more blue leaning folks moving to the metro area, widening the population difference between rural and urban.

I see some pathways for more mutual trust, but I’ll write about them another day. Tired right now.

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