Paul Gordon Collier
There is a fine line between Democracy and Tyranny- has Colorado crossed that line?
Colorado’s State governnment has a decidedly ‘hard’ left slant to it. This is a reflection of the major metropolitan areas, most notable Denver, dominating the rest of the state. Colorado voters, overwhelmingly from Denver and its surrounding urban centers, passed a resolution legalizing Marijauan. The Colorado Legislature recently legalized gay marriage. That same legislature passed strict gun control laws that led to major gun maufacturers and hunting groups pulling out of the state altogether.
One could argue that Colorado’s moves were a reflection of democratic values. They passed legislation. The people passed resolutions. But did these values represent ‘republican values’? After all, many of the ‘conservative’ counties of Colorado are now forced to follow the far left values of the rest of the State. Is this an example of the tyranny of Democracy versus the Representational protection against democracti tyranny the Republic was intended to follow?
Eight counties in Colorado are now seeking to secede from Denver, to free themselves from the ‘tyranny of Democracy’. This is an interesting case study that might emerge from Colorado.
I write about this not in support or in opposition to the counties seeking to secede from Colorado, but as a warning to all governments in a republican system. If governments, through the sheer power of the democratic process, are willing to alienate and disenfranchise significant segments of the communities they govern, they risk instability which, if the eight states of Colorado are successful, will only grow in instability as the Republic moves closer and closer towards fragmentation.
One of the problems with Colorado is the imbalance in the counties. The power is concentrated in the hands of a select few counties. I drew up a comparison between Colorado and PA to illustrate my point here:
Colorado and PA are very different in the degree to which a few counties dictate to the vast majority of counties. When the 13 states formed, they feared the very scenario that is now taking place in Colorado, and their breakdown was more closely aligned to PA than to CO. We formed a Republic out of a DIRECT fear of the tyranny of democracy controlling the minority.
There are 64 counties in CO. Think of them as 64 states in a Union. 10 of the 64 Counties account for 80 percent of the population. This means that 54 Counties will be beholden to the wishes, the votes, the demands of those 10 Counties.
10 Counties out of 64 works out to 16% of the counties controlling 80% of the vote.
In Pa, 10 counties out of a total of 67 counties represent 54% of the population. This means that 15% of the counties controls 54% of the vote.
In the original 13 colonies, 4 Colonies represented 53% of the population. This means that 30% of the States controlled 53% of the vote. This ratio of population percentage to percentage of States is even more balanced than PA’s current balance of power.
Colorado’s balance of power is acutely more out of skew than PA’s. This means that 83% of Colorado’s Counties are disenfranchised at the state level, a balance of power which is sure to lead to the top 10 states feeling empowered to enact democratic tyranny over the rest of the state.
So long as the top 10 counties exercised some discipline in imposing their will on the other 54 counties, this union could stand, but now that the top 10 counties are pushing such extreme measures that are fundamentally unaligned with the values and beliefs of the other 54 counties, this union is in danger of schism.
It is telling that the Republicans and Democrats in PA at the State level tend to reflect more ‘moderate’ values. They simply do not have a consolidated enough base of power to pass more extreme measures without facing significant blowback from the other counties.
On a side note, our top 10 States in the US represent 53 percent of the overall population, yet our Federal government is passing measures which seem every bit as extreme as what Colorado has been passing. Perhaps this is a reflection not of an imbalance in the States but in Federal power versus State power?
Here is the blurb from the article I am referencing:
As a sign of just how divisive the recently ended Colorado legislative session has been, it may very well result in a literal division of the state.
As many as eight counties composing the rural, oil and gas-rich northeast corner of the state are pursuing a plan to cut ties with a capital city they no longer feel represents their interests and come together as the 51st state in the country: North Colorado.
“We’re actually going to pursue it,” said Weld County Commissioner Douglas Rademacher, a farmer whose jurisdiction is spearheading the effort. “Frankly, we’ve been ignored in northeastern Colorado now for the last, going on eight years with the current administration in Denver.”