THE BLOG

Demonstrators Change the World -- Can They Change Colorado?

02/24/2011 12:40 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Look at Egypt, Wisconsin, and Denver, Colorado! Peaceful protesters demanding their rights. Colorado union members standing up for the minimal influence organized labor has on state government here.

Judging from the Middle East and Northern Africa, you would think that the power of the protester, the power of people demonstrating successfully for reform and civil rights, has finally achieved its full voice and power in the world.

But then you hear that the governor of Wisconsin remains deaf to the demand for collective bargaining rights for all his public employees; and you see there are demonstrators here, too, in Colorado, advocating the governor's same budget-cutting position.

What's a thinking moderate to do? Hillary Clinton has chided world leaders for trying to retaliate against their citizens for exercising their universal right to assemble and petition their government for legitimate reforms.

But looking at the rotunda in the Wisconsin capitol only makes you wonder whether a crowd like that inside Colorado's capitol would be allowed its same universal right of expression.

But then you tell yourself nothing will ever get that bad here in Colorado.

For one thing, state workers hardly have the collective bargaining rights granted state workers in Ohio and Wisconsin several decades ago. And as for the private sector, workers have hardly any rights at all.

So for Colorado, no worries in that regard; local business leaders can breathe a deep sigh of relief.

But you have to ask: Isn't Colorado's middle class being destroyed just as effectively here as elsewhere in these United States?

Wasn't it another attack on the state's middle-class wage earners when Democratic and Republican budget writers of years past forced Colorado into a position of depriving children all the way to college levels the financial support of a good public-school education?

Maybe it's time Coloradans did flood the capitol with their bodies to remind our leaders that peoples' lives are on the line here just as they are in the poorer nations of the world. Whether you are wearing a tie with your sport coat or not, decisions made at the top have profound impact on the legions living at the bottom.

And maybe that message is finally getting through. I've been to many a demonstration big and small in Colorado -- for more gun control in the wake of Columbine and for janitors' rights in downtown buildings -- when the protest had no effect on lawmakers at all.

Perhaps the numbers just have to be bigger, and the shouting louder, and protest has to become a worldwide fashion, for our leaders to listen more carefully to the legitimate concerns of a citizenry. Maybe it's time for all of us to vote with our feet.

At least when you walk for a cause you give yourself time to hope someone will listen.