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I'm from Colorado, and I'm proud of it. Usually, though, my pride comes from the state's physical beauty. (Yeah, that's got nothing to do with me, but most of our parochial prides suffer from this same flaw.) The state's politics and culture have rarely given me much to be proud of. I grew up in Colorado Springs, which was uber-conservative in the Orange County mode long before it welcomed James C. Dobson's Focus on the Family and a flood of smaller wingnut fundamentalist groups. Instead, I centered my cultural and civilizational pride on my "adopted" home city of Chicago. (Obama!)

Now, though, Colorado's voters are making me proud of something other than mountains. Sure, they voted for George W. Bush, and that's disappointing. But Colorado is no Utah, and it's no Oklahoma.

Despite the predictable opposition from our embarrassing Governor, whom National Review praised as the "best Governor in America" and who never met a road project he didn't like, Denver-area voters have approved "one of the most ambitious urban transportation projects in the nation's history." Denver also improved a tax increase to fund civic improvements and an independent monitor to oversee internal Police Department investigations. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (a Democrat) stumped for all these measures, and went 3-for-3. Meanwhile, Governor Asphalt spent most of his time working on the platform for the Republican Convention, and continued his recent losing streak on voter initiatives dating back to the water-grubbing Referendum A. (Water politics is bruising in the West.)

Statewide, voters are shaking off their knee-jerk allegiance to the Republicans. The miserable performance of the party's leaders in the state legislature has inspired voters to return both houses to the Democrats. They've elected Ken Salazar, a decent and competent Democrat, to the U.S. Senate. (The snarky behavior of the national Democratic Party leadership shouldn't cast any aspersions on Salazar's character.) The state is sending two more Democrats to the Congress in Washington.

I'm proud to say that Colorado is living up to its self-image as a rugged and independent Western state. It's certainly independent of the knee-jerk right-wing ideology.

(There's more great Colorado discussions at Colorado Luis. Picante pero sabroso indeed.)