[Note: For North Colorado and 51st-state updates since this article was published, see this recent article.)
The movement, which began in the minds of the county commissioners in Weld County, builds on rural anger of legislative moves in the capital, Denver, that make many northeasterners feel “our way of life is under attack.” Such developments include new laws on cruelty to livestock (Republicans appear to be for it), renewable energy (they’re against that), gun control (“cold, dead fingers” and all that), and, most nationally prominent, Colorado last year becoming one of now two states (Washington is the other) where marijuana is no longer illegal.
Colorado used to be pretty much a red state. Yes, it is known for producing individualistic and eccentric political views that don’t always map well onto what the East Coast regards as the left–right political spectrum. The best example of this is Richard “Dick” Lamm, governor from 1975 to 1987, an ardent environmentalist Democrat who killed a plan to hold the 1976 Winter Olympics in Denver but who also regarded his own Democratic Party as “too close to the trial lawyers and the National Education Association” and supported physician-assisted suicide, long before any other public figure did, not on the grounds of compassion but because invalids had “a duty to die and get out of the way.” (Later, he joined Ross Perot’s fiscal-conservative Reform Party.) But rural Coloradans’ individualism, suspicion of government, and romanticism of the Wild West always overrode their other impulses and made Colorado a Republican Party stronghold. At least until demographics began to shift over the past couple decades: Denver and the emerging hippie counterculture mecca of Boulder have grown, and so has the state’s Hispanic population. It is now a swing state, and that explains why those in the state’s rural northeast feel (correctly, actually) that they are losing their voice.
Phillips County is considering it.
After the initial hubbub, some moderates began saying that perhaps a less, um, democratic federalism might be in order, such as guaranteeing individual counties a certain share of legislative seats, as a way of slowing the demographic juggernaut of Denver and Boulder city-slickers in Coloradan elections. But presuming that the North Colorado idea goes forward, some things will have to be sorted out first.
|Welcome to downtown Boulder|
Second is a postal abbreviation. North Carolina is already NC, and ND and CO are likewise taken. This is as good a reason as any for North Coloradoans to actually come up with a new name for the state and not take the lazy West Virginia route.
Third, of course, is a flag. Both opponents and proponents of North Colorado statehood have offered designs, though the movement itself does not have one yet. The Southern Nationalist Network, a (rather embarrassingly for North Coloradoans) racist neo-Confederate organization, has suggested this one (the uncommented-upon use of a red star showing just how far in the past the Cold War is for many young conservatives) ...
... while a more Democratically inclined blogger suggests either this ...
... or an expression of rural Colorado values that looks like this:
[Also, for those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with a forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas. Look for it in spring 2013. I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.]