• Hana Ciembronowicz

Opening Day, 2019

On Opening Day, 2019, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville addressed the Colorado House of Representatives, stressing the need to make Colorado more affordable, to fund and reform K-12 education, and to embrace a more constitutional approach to the question of rights and tolerance. On the last point, Neville said,

Some people in our country don’t want us to talk, debate, or build relationships. They invoke labels like “racist”, “homophobic”, “un-American” and the like to shut down conversations. This is the trend in American politics and society.

But Professor Jonathan Haidt has said this trend, this reversion to tribes and safe spaces, can be overcome with conversations and relationships; that is, with good-old American civil discourse.

To “be tolerant” means to put up with, and to listen to, people we disagree with. Many people in this room wore the uniform of our country to preserve our fundamental right to free speech and debate – a right the law and constitution clearly afford to disagreeable, and even ‘intolerant’, people. We should shun and shame those who would try to deny us this most basic right, because in the end such people want to make conversation, comity and relationships in this place impossible.

Concerning stated Democrat plans to enlarge the size of the state government and increase spending, Neville observed,

The drip, drip, drip of paying for basic needs is draining Coloradans of the optimism and hope that should be natural for residents of this great state. It causes some to leave, and yet others to delay having children. The bills we debate this session will directly impact Colorado’s affordability, and if history teaches us anything, it teaches that government programs bring with them the very expensive baggage of unintended consequences.

Sadly, this baggage is relevant to the debate about “injection sites”. Some well-intentioned people would have you believe this is a compassionate approach to a complicated problem. Fact is, the causes of opioid addiction often arecomplicated. Yet Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has pointed out that such sites violate federal law, and more importantly, they create serious safety risks for workers and neighborhoods, even as they ‘normalize’ self-destructive behavior. So-called safe injection sites are not the answer. Asking the taxpayer to foot the bill to continue addiction is a bad idea. Subsidizing the slow-motion suicide of our citizens is wrong. We can and must do better.

In reference to the economy more generally, Neville remarked,

We are committed to the principles of smaller government and free enterprise. These commitments don’t spring from our loyalty to an old book or bumper sticker. They come from our observations about how individuals, governments, and markets have functioned best throughout human history. They are people-centered because they work for people.

Our commitment to smaller government comes from the realization that people make mistakes. People are fallible; people can be tempted. That’s true whether they are educated or ambitious, or both – or neither. We don’t want to give those in government too much power to interfere with our lives because they’re as prone to mistakes and temptation as the rest of us.

As to our commitment to free enterprise, well, that comes from our experience as a nation. In 230 years we have become the most powerful and prosperous country on earth. Neither the microwave oven, nor the iPhone, nor the light bulb was conceived by a government bureaucracy or a top-down approach to the economy. Instead, these and hundreds of other important inventions originated in the imagination of Americans who were free to dream and build.

Because our economic system provides opportunities for creators and visionaries while taking into account a realistic view of human nature, it offers a better life for moms and dads, for leaders and laborers, for the Daughters of the Revolution and the sons of immigrants. Our success hasn’t come by having a large government, but by having large freedoms that enable individuals to pursue their dreams and happiness.

Who can argue with that?

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