The Historiat : RealClearHistory Blog

Does Progress Flow Down From Rockies?

Does Progress Flow Down From Rockies?
AP Photo/Dan Elliott
X
Story Stream
recent articles

April 20 was  national pot-smoking dayin the United States. In Colorado, you can buy marijuana legally, smoke it legally, and grow it legally. In January 2014, the state officially legalized pot. Since then, several other states have joined Colorado in legalizing the wacky weed and one CBS poll says that 65% of Americans now favor legalizing pot.

Colorado is not just a trendsetter for today, either. In 1967, its governor, John Love, signed a bill on April 25 that legalized abortion. The controversy surrounding Colorado’s legislation has been unending, and still goes on today, but the now national issues all started in Colorado. Governor Love was a Republican, by the way, and served in the Navy during World War II. He earned not one, but two Distinguished Flying Crosses.

If you think legalizing pot and abortion was bad, Colorado was also the first state to grant women, by popular referendum, the right to vote (in 1893). Utah was technically the first state to grant universal suffrage, but most people discount Salt Lake’s “first” because of polygamy. The logic behind this line of thinking goes something like this: the polygamists wanted women to have the right to vote so that they could tell their wives how to vote, thus enhancing the voices of polygamists in democratic politics. Colorado had no such baggage when its men voted to give its women equal voting rights.

Left-leaning political legislation isn’t the only thing Colorado does first. In 1976 the American Basketball Association held its All-Star game in Denver, and the first-ever slam dunk contest was held. Guess who won? None other than Julius Erving. (He beat out George Gervin, Artis Gilmore, Larry Kenon, and David Thompson.)

How does Colorado get to things first? Is it the thin Rocky Mountain air? The beauty? 

Colorado is notoriously purple, politically. One senator from each party represents Colorado in Washington, as do four Democrats and three Republicans in the House. It’s also has the healthiest population of Americans citizens, too. The life expectancy rate - 80.2 years - is the best in the country.

The Centennial State has come a long way from being carved out of Kansas, Utah, and New Mexico Territory, and an even longer way from being claimed by Mexico. When I think of the things that a state like Colorado has been able to accomplish, I marvel at our federal system. The 50 states are laboratories of democracy, indeed.

Comment
Show comments Hide Comments

Related Articles