Perhaps this post is ill-timed, given the fact that election season is over, but I feel this has to be said...
I'm tired of people in the media describing Colorado as a “Purple” State.
I've been here my whole life, and I can tell you, with most certainty, that Colorado is neither a “Red” State nor a “Blue” State; but we're not “Purple” (meaning, our elections could go either way).
While it's true that Colorado went both times for Bush and both times for Obama, I can tell you with absolute certainty that this is not a determinate factor in our politics. Those factors barely scratch the surface of our dynamic.
Here's the truth (whether you like it or not)... Colorado is more of a Libertarian State than one that “swings.” The voters here are somewhat savvy when it comes to rationality and understanding of complicated issues.
Colorado is a very intelligent State by the numbers. As a State, we have the third highest number of College Graduates per capita in the Country. Here in Denver, libraries are easily found, as well as book stores coffee shops (like the place I choose to write all this shit... shout out to Fireside Books and Coffee, on Hampden and Delaware... stop in and have a look around... this place is GREAT). We're a very literate state!
We also have the highest concentration of breweries in the Country; which dictates our love of diversity and originality in tastes. This is also given emphasis by our eclectic collection of international cuisine.
Colorado is a haven for people who have a hard time finding where they belong. I've always been a very social person, so I wind up talking to lots of different people at the bars I frequent (like Sancho's Broken Arrow, the Doghouse, and Armida's Karaoke Bar). Somewhere between a third and a half of the people I meet have the same story... either they know someone here, or they heard this was a cool place, so they moved here and fell in love with Colorado.
The majority of these people felt “out of place” in their former home for one reason or another. As a result, Colorado (or, at least, Denver) has become the cultural equivalent of the “Island of the Misfit Toys.” We have a very large LGBT population, a very large geek population, and a SHITLOAD of stoners (which is a GOOD thing... and supposedly, Woody Harrellson, one of the “stoner kings,” is rumored to be moving here in light of Amendment 64)!
Our small towns aren't as “rural” as the small towns in most of the rest of the country. We have some VERY “liberal” small towns, like Breckenridge, Colorado City, and Monument. The “Conservative rural town” isn't as present here as it is in other parts of the country.
Colorado's politics are basically controlled by our four largest cities: Denver, Colorado Springs, Boulder, and Fort Collins. These four cities might as well be separate countries. Boulder is the most “Liberal” of the four cities, being that it has several colleges; and Colorado Springs (the City I try to avoid like the plague... it's a whole different universe) is the most “Conservative,” being the home of the Air Force Academy and the original home of “Focus on the Family” (which recently moved to Highlands Ranch; the most wealthy and conservative suburb of Denver... Mike “The Lying Douchebag” Coffman's district). Denver and Fort Collins, however, are not as “Liberal” as the rest of the country would like to believe.
People here have a strong attachment to individual rights and a “mind your own fuckin' business” attitude with regards to law making. This is why we were able to decriminalize marijuana, legalize medicinal marijuana, and eventually fully legalize marijuana. This is also why I believe that we will see marriage equality in the near future (our Statehouse already legalized “civil unions” this year).
Being mostly rational, intelligent people, we have found a balance; not between Democrats and Republicans; but between Liberals and Libertarians.
Maybe it's just the crew I run with, but the majority of the people I meet tend to fall right down the middle of this dividing line.
I'll be honest... I like it that way. The Libertarians here are much more rational than Teabaggers or “typical” Republicans. You can ACTUALLY have a REAL conversation with people, without it dissolving into “YER JUST A LIBURUL DEMUCRAT COMMIE!” People openly and freely express their opinions, and discuss them at length (and yes, even in bars... I know... that's supposed to be a “no-no”; but it works here).
I love the friendly, approachable nature of our populous. We're easy and fun to engage; and place great pride in the fact that we can have a reasonable conversation about virtually any topic; even the ones that are somewhat “touchy.”
As a result of our somewhat Libertarian populous, the determinate factor in a State-wide or National election isn't so much WHO'S running, but what they represent. However, if voters in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins sit out an election (as we saw in 2000 and 2004), the Theocrats in Colorado Springs have a disproportionate voice to the rest of the State, which makes us LOOK “purple.” When this happens, the rest of us RATIONAL people get pissed. However, we learn from our mistakes, so when these things happen, they usually get corrected in the next election cycle.
Colorado is the greatest place on Earth! Come and see for yourself... you'll quickly learn that everything I've said is accurate and true!
To the media, I'd like to say this...
STOP calling us a “purple” state! If you want the straight beef, ASK THE PEOPLE HERE! We LIKE to engage in these conversations! We LIKE to talk about politics! Any chance we get to share in the glory of Colorado, we take it!