If California ever does tumble into the sea, there’ll still be “East California” — aka Colorado. At least, that’s how Denver-based libertarian think tank Independence Institute envisions one possible U.S. map of the not-too-distant future.
Well, not the part about California’s seismic fate; the part about politically purple Colorado morphing into a Middle American imitation of the ever-more-leftwardly tilted People’s Republic on the West Coast.
And while tax-bashing, regulation-ruing, GOP-leaning Independence wants to be clear it views such a scenario with dread, its longtime president and wiseacre in chief, Jon Caldara, can’t help but add a dose of his usual smart-alecky satire. Hence, Independence’s latest barb at big government, its decidedly tongue-in-cheek “Californian of the Year” award — for which the institute announced its first nomination in a press statement this week:
…Christine Berg, Mayor of Lafayette, for her leadership and vote to make Lafayette the first city in Colorado to bar local restaurants from advertising “sugar drinks” on kids’ menus. The ordinance limits children’s default choices to water and milk, among other offshoots, such as sparkling water and non-dairy milk alternatives.
The award, Independence explains, goes to “…the person who most exemplifies the drive and determination to change the character of Colorado into that of California. … By working to turn Colorado into East California, our nominees promote the Californian value of demanding to make decisions for other people.” Berg’s deed made her a near shoo-in for one of the nominations (of which more will follow in coming days):
Beyond the obvious California-like nannyism of replacing the power of parents with the power of the parental state (after all, the ordinance was modeled after one in Davis, California), our panel of judges were particularly impressed by her ability to also attack First Amendment freedoms of speech at the same time. Wasn’t it Patrick Henry who said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it, unless you’re talking about Mountain Dew.”
That’s quite a tribute for a small-town Colorado mayor. We reached out to Berg for a response; she seemed amused rather than offended by the send-up. But she stood her ground on the new ordinance, unanimously adopted by Berg and the rest of the Lafayette City Council after extensive study by a citizens committee.
“I think parents and kids are bombarded by marketing for unhealthy things,” Berg said. Any parent shepherding grade-schoolers or teens into an eatery knows the irresistible allure of soft drinks, she said.
Still, isn’t it parents’ duty, not a restaurateur’s, to second-guess a child’s menu choices?
“(The policy) makes it less complicated for parents,” she said. “The outcome outweighs any perceived notions that it’s taking away people’s rights.” Besides, she said, “It only impacts a handful of businesses.” And parents are still free to order their kids any soft drink the restaurant offers; the drink just can’t be promoted on a kids menu.
Does that make Colorado, or at least Lafayette, a bit more like California?
“No, I think Colorado is independent-minded,” the mayor said.
Caldara no doubt is hoping the rest of Colorado is more Independence-minded — and will heed the mock award as a wakeup call.