Dare to Dream: Is Bipartisanship Coming Back?

January 2014

The news this week has been notable for all the things it didn't feature. There were no headlines about Congressional stalemates over the federal budget; no threats to hold our government and economy hostage; no filibusters; and no recriminations accusing one side or the other of a War on <Blank>.

In case you missed it, on Thursday Congress seemed poised to pass a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would fund the government until this fall. Not only were these negotiations absent of shutdown ultimatums and talk of "nuclear options," even curmudgeonly-on-principle pols such as Ted Cruz chose to keep their powder dry for now.

If this weren't encouraging enough, another bipartisan group of lawmakers revealed on Thursday proposed legislation to update the 1965 Voting Rights Act, portions of which the Supreme Court neutered last year. The modernized law would restore some of the protections nullified by the Court while also changing the formula that's used to decide whether certain states with histories of racial discrimination at the polls must get extra approval before changing their voting laws.

These quick, under-the-radar agreements over normally divisive issues could be a sign that our lawmakers have learned valuable lessons about the raging, vengeful politics that have become commonplace this century. Or it could just be an election year in which everyone's too scared of losing their place in line to create much of a fuss. Either way, we might as well be thankful that they're all getting along at the moment.

But for those of you who prefer that their government remain pissed off and gridlocked, fear not, for partisan politics still have life right here in Colorado. That's because in local news this week, the state GOP showed that it's not quite ready to give up its far-right proclivities. 

First, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, who derailed his previous effort to unseat Senator Michael Bennet by making numerous statements many women found offensive, picked right up where he left off in 2010. This time he's trying to replace Senator Mark Udall, and Buck found himself under fire again with women this week after he compared, however loosely, being pregnant with having cancer.

Then on Thursday—whew, big news day—a cadre of state Republicans (including Buck's wife, Perry) introduced a bill that would make it a felony for a woman to have an abortion in Colorado. (Among other class 3 offenses in Colorado are sexual assault, enticement of a child, kidnapping, and second-degree murder.)  The bill also mandates that life begins at conception, which means it would ratify the so-called "personhood" constitutional amendments that our voters have resoundingly rejected time and again.

Although the law has no chance of passing, it shows that at least a few desperate folks are still clinging to the belief that extreme social conservatism, despite a decade or so of contrary evidence, can still sway a majority of Coloradans. Maybe these folks think such conviction may one day land them in the kingdom of heaven—which itself is debatable—but it probably won't win them many elections along the way.

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow 5280 articles editor Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.