John Andrews

In my state of Colorado, early August used to be the season for celebrating the anniversary of our admission to statehood in 1876. But this year more people are preoccupied with the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Denver, where Obama's coronation will occur in a stadium and protesters hope to "recreate '68."

Many now regard the statehood anniversary as historical trivia, irrelevant today. It isn't, though. Colorado was only allowed by Congress to become one of the United States on the condition that its form of government would be “not repugnant to the principles of the Declaration of Independence.” Conservatives believe this is a good time to see how we measure up to that standard, sort of like taking a physical on your birthday.

The principles to be cherished are that we’re all created equal, that our rights are God-given not manmade, that government must therefore be limited not unlimited, and that tyranny whether from monarchs or majorities is an ever-present danger.

What this means is that the power of the state, its laws and taxes, commands and prohibitions, police and jails, meet boundaries in our lives and liberties which they may not trespass. Not everything is political. If someone believes everything IS political, even the CO2 we exhale, even men’s and women’s restrooms (headed for unisex status under a controversial new state law), he’s crossways to the Spirit of ’76, 1776 and 1876 both. That’s why Colorado Day still matters.

A study text for this year’s self-examination was provided nationally by the Weekly Standard in its July 21 cover story by Fred Barnes, “The Colorado Model: The Democrats’ Plan for Turning Red States Blue.” The Dems’ electoral winning streak here since 2004 isn’t just cyclical, Barnes contends. He thinks they’ve invented a whole new way of doing politics, potent and ready for export.

Maybe it’s that or maybe it’s routine stuff overhyped by Republicans as “an excuse for their tailspin,” in the article’s words. The GOP has indeed embarrassed itself with recent losses for governor, both legislative chambers, a Senate seat and two House seats. But the darker implications of Barnes’s analysis deserve attention no matter which party you favor – since a competitive and open political system is in everyone’s interest. If he is right, a lockdown for one side could happen in Colorado.

John Andrews

John Andrews is former president of the Colorado Senate and the author of "Responsibility Reborn: A Citizen's Guide to the Next American Century"