I ran across a quote today I thought would make a good pop quiz.
So, who said the following?
I believe we should be providing the best quality government in the most efficient manner. The cornerstones for good government are engaged citizen feedback, dedicated customer service and continuous improvement. It is not the role of government to solve every challenge. The role of government is to create a collaborative environment and to provide the resources to facilitate solutions that spring from the community itself.
A.) Ronald Reagan?
B.) Calvin Coolidge?
C.) Barack Obama?
D.) Barry Goldwater?
Actually, it was none of the above.
The quote comes from Tuesday's State of the City speech by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (which may be his last such speech if Republicans can't field better candidates), though it could easily be confused with something Reagan or Goldwater might have said. Hickenlooper is no conservative. Not by a long shot. But his use of such rhetoric (and it may be empty rhetoric, to be sure) increases the chance that he can sell himself as a centrist between now and election day.
The first two sentences are political boilerplate, at least since the Reagan era, but it's the second two that really grabbed me, since they pretty well describe the approach we've traditionally taken in Colorado Springs -- and a model we've been relying on even more during this fiscal crisis:
It is not the role of government to solve every challenge. The role of government is to create a collaborative environment and to provide the resources to facilitate solutions that spring from the community itself.
The leftist in Hickenlooper betrays himself just a bit when he says that it's the city's function to "provide the resources to facilitate solutions," since that still gives government a too-central role in true, community-based solutions, in my opinion. These efforts should rely, to the greatest extent possible, on private funding. Had I been giving the speech, or writing it for the mayor, I would have made the following changes:
It is not the role of government to solve every challenge. The role of government is to create a collaborative environment that facilitates solutions that spring from the community itself.
That's the way we've been doing things in Colorado Springs for years. It's the secret strength that will see us through these challenging times. If Mayor Hickenlooper really wants to turn that Reaganesque rhetoric into action, and see how it works in practice, he should come on down. We'd be happy to show him around sometime.