Colorado House Speaker KC Becker made one thing clear in a speech Friday during the launch of the 2019 session of the Colorado Legislature: She is all-in for divisive identity politics.
In labeling various demographics, Becker managed to insult at least a million registered voters. In doing so, she diminished expectations her caucus might reach across the aisle and govern moderately for all.
“Coloradans chose compassion and opportunity over cruelty and chaos,” Becker said of her party winning all elections for statewide office, taking control of the Senate from Republicans, and greatly expanding its control of the House.
Two sentences later, Becker said she would serve as speaker “for all Coloradans.” Even those who favor cruelty and chaos, apparently.
Colorado Republican Party Chairman Jeff Hays compared Becker’s $1B“cruelty and chaos” remark to Hillary Clinton’s infamous description of Republicans as a “basket of deplorables.”
Becker’s comment wasn’t off the cuff. She insulted Colorado’s 1 million registered Republicans — along with others who did not vote her way — in a written, edited and vetted speech. She meant it.
“So Republican voters, whether white, black or brown, employees or owners, stay-at-home moms or graduates just entering the work force, are the forces of cruelty and chaos?” Hays wrote in a mass email responding to Becker. “Turns out, 2019 Colorado Democrats respect you only if you voted for them.”
While denouncing one massive demographic as cruel, Becker celebrated the election of fellow Boulder Democrat Jared Polis as governor. Not because he is a good father. Not because he is a successful businessman who created his first multimillion-dollar company while attending college. Not because he revolutionized the way people buy and sell flowers, by creating ProFlowers.com. Not because he helped invent online greeting cards. Not because he founded and funds disruptive charter schools to improve educations for homeless and immigrant children. Not for his accomplishments in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Becker applauded Polis only for immutable traits that have little to do with his political philosophy and aspirations for our state.
Polis, she declared, is “the first Jewish and openly gay governor” — which was barely discussed or considered of much relevance during the campaign. From there, she described various members as women and “people of color” without much attention to the issues they ran on.
Becker made reference to Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada, without naming her. Titone flipped a Republican district by running on education, housing and wages, health care, drug abuse, veterans, law enforcement, homelessness, net neutrality, and more. Here’s all that Becker had to say about Titone: She’s “the first transgender representative in ‘herstory.’”
Titone’s transition may be worth noting, but this is not what led voters to elect her. In Becker’s speech, it is what matters.
Becker’s name-calling and social identity lecture contrasts with opening-day remarks of Republican leadership. Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert suggested paying for a $336 million investment in schools and roads with part of the state’s anticipated $1.2 billion surplus. Would that be cruel, chaotic or both?
House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, emphasized the need to fix roads and general services with the massive surplus and existing revenues. Chaotic? Cruel?
“The governor’s budget proposal is $1.09 billion larger than last year, and $10 billion larger than 2009 when Gov. Hickenlooper first took office. And we’ve just come into an additional $1 billion in revenue,” Neville explained, pleading the money be used for all people of the state.
Neville did not say a bad word about his Democratic colleagues or the people who elected them. He did not spend a moment dwelling on the genders, ethnic identities or religions of fellow legislators.
Democrats have an unprecedented chance to lead and create a better Colorado for everyone, by enacting good legislation based in ideas and information. Opportunities in politics don’t get better than this. Democrats have not had this much control in Colorado since 1936.
Becker’s divisive, judgmental, poor-winner speech set a needlessly negative tone. Let’s hope it does not indicate how her party governs throughout 2019.