Apr 152009
 
Authors: Caleb Thornton

This semester I have had the opportunity to work as an intern down at the state Capitol.

Aside from the 6:30 a.m. wake-up time every Tuesday and Thursday, it has actually turned out to be a great learning experience. Honestly, if you are really interested in how the political process works here in Colorado, there really is no better way to learn than through first-hand experience.

And of all the things that I have learned over the course of this semester, one lesson in particular has become abundantly clear to me: Being in the minority political party sucks.

As you may or may not know, the Democratic Party currently holds significant majorities inside the state House of Representatives, state Senate, as well as the governorship. In short, Colorado’s state government is controlled by Democrats across the board.

Of course, being in power has its privileges. I will admit that I do not spend much of my time in the offices of the majority party, but I can tell you this — they are definitely nicer than the office that I work in. To let you know what I mean, let me attempt to give you a visual.

Personally, I like to say that I work in the bat-cave, and, granted, it may not be as dark, bat-ridden or as cool as the caped crusader’s secret lair. However, it does share some common characteristics, such as the lack of natural lighting, a consistent cold breeze (the air conditioner that never turns off) or the simple fact that the office is stuck in the far-reaches of the Capitol and fairly difficult to find.

Of course, in reality, none of the offices in the state Capitol are that much nicer, but it just goes to show that being in the minority party can, at times, be something of a drag.

However, there is no time more difficult to be in the minority party then when it comes to the debate over partisan legislation.

In reality, the majority of bills passed through the state legislature are common sense laws that are necessary, have bipartisan support and are, in short, boring. But, there are also a fair amount of bills that may not have bipartisan support, and it is these bills that can bring on the real debate.

Whether it is a bill increasing license fees, allowing for children of illegal immigrants to gain in-state tuition or the recent debate over higher education funding, these partisan bills bring out the party politics that, like it or not, exist at an ever-increasing level at the Capitol.

The problem with being in the minority party when it comes to these bills is pretty simple — my side loses much more than it wins.

I cannot tell you how many times I have sat and listened to debate, been convinced that my side’s arguments were so strong that there was no possibility that anyone could think the opposite, only to see the legislation in question be killed or passed in complete contradiction to our arguments.

But those are the rules of the game, and if anything the process shows better than anywhere that elections have consequences. And in the case of the Republican Party, they have been bad both at the state and federal level.

The year 2010 may still be a little way off, but if Republicans are going to have any shot at getting something in the Colorado government back, it’s time to start thinking now.

Whether it means reshaping the party, getting back to the basics or a combination of both, something has to be done soon because, honestly, I just don’t know how much more of this losing I can take.

Caleb Thornton is a senior political science major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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