Saturday, November 6, 2010

Post-election: Optimism vs. cynicism

Following all the hoopla of the campaign, the vote on Election Day and the delayed declarations of winners in Colorado and elsewhere, perhaps a new bipartisan spirit is abroad in the land, despite Mitch McConnell.

God knows we need some, even if McConnell doesn't seem to get it.

Republicans across the land staged a comeback in Congress, but the wave splashed pretty harmlessly across Colorado. Michael Bennet beat Ken Buck and will take his business-friendly Democratic philosophy back to the state's junior Senate seat for the next six years.

Gov. Hick promises a new attitude from a different Democratic administration at the statehouse.

A one-vote majority of Republicans in the state House isn't promising to restore all the business tax exemptions Gov. Ritter took from them in 2010, but Hickenlooper is willing, like Obama, to give a listen.

The Denver mayor also is probably smart enough to try to restore a state helping hand to the natural-gas industry to get it off Colorado government's back. Gas is a clean fuel after all; and although it's available enmasse all over the country right now (keeping its price low), perhaps incenting local drilling to serve local natural-gas powered electric plants will actually revive Colorado's gas-producers.

Hick's probably smart enough to ensure a continued coal-producing industry as well. Our coal is cleaner-burning than most coal dug farther east, and there will be no wholesale conversion of old plants across the Mississippi, so despite transportation costs, that market will remain available to Colorado for years to come.

Perhaps, just perhaps, our new governor also will be smart enough to get the railroads to join a venture to improve transportation lanes in and out of the state, reducing shipping costs for coal and other products made here. There's lots a smart governor can do.  

And there's certainly lots to do. On the Sunday before the election, the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., which is the jobs-recruiting arm of the local Chamber of Commerce, weighed in on the challenges Hickenlooper will face as the new governor.

In the metro chamber's 2010 study, "Toward a More Competitive Colorado," education funding, multimodal transportation and health care for all Coloradans are cited as eroding pillars of the state's economy that must be fixed NOW!

Colorado labor has already been whipped into shape by Ritter to not expect much from a state leadership that is required to appease every whine that emanates from the business community.

And what labor really wants most right now is a job -- almost on any terms.

So what's left to be cynical about?

Only, perhaps, that even Republican victories, a restoration of balance to our legislatures both in Washingon and Denver, will not be able to insure that our political machinery is now well-oiled enough to actually produce something for its people.

Gridlock still threatens, and only politicians with "the People" truly in their hearts will make things happen in this the greatest democracy, the greatest model of capitalism, on the planet.

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