Boulder is Too Liberal


Halie Leland via Canva

Boulder, Colorado is infamous for its overwhelmingly liberal environment. But as a student and resident, I surprisingly long for discord.

Recently I found myself in the midst of a debate on border control in America—what one might think could be a prolonged and lively discussion. To my sheer disappointment, I gained absolutely no new perspective. Everyone agreed with one another, and yet I desperately wanted to bang my head against my desk in frustration. These instances of unanimous agreement have become normal to me, and it’s because of where I live. 

Boulder is stuffed with far-left Democrats, and I love it—mostly. I live in a place where approximately 107,000 individuals agree with almost everything I think, say or post. However, I find myself longing for controversy. I want different opinions, especially the ones that completely disagree with and disarm mine. That kind of variety is crucial for young people and extremely beneficial for communities. Political diversity not only fosters education but promotes inclusivity too.

I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico where for 13 years I was introduced to a scale of political beliefs. In everyday discussions, I heard conservative, moderate and liberal perspectives on every issue imaginable. Albuquerque is 49.6 percent Democratic, as opposed to Boulder’s 70.3 percent Democrat majority, according to voting results in the last election. While annoying to me at the time, the kids who preached far-right ideals taught me to strengthen my own positions around issues like gun control, abortion and health care. Having the political diversity that Boulder lacks was a beneficial factor to my education. 

Research shows that having political diversity present in schools is advantageous for all young people. Jeffrey F. Milem of the University of California, Santa Barbara states, “…evidence regarding the individual benefits of diversity suggests that diversity enhances student growth and development in the cognitive, affective, and interpersonal domains.” Additionally, according to Generations For Peace, a global organization that works to facilitate the growth of young leaders, “If young people are exposed to a broad variety of viewpoints, rather than absorbing only entrenched and one-sided narratives, they are more likely to strive for peace.” 

Education can and should be non-partisan as to avoid indoctrination, but in Boulder and many towns across America, the political scale in schools can unconsciously tip to one direction. High school teacher Will Reusch has experienced in his career, “…a pervasive norm that conservative ideas are bad and progressive ideas are good.” Reusch explains, “…one of the goals of education should be to prepare students for the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Fostering the ability to think about complex and controversial issues from a variety of perspectives, with an eye towards problem-solving, is a necessary part of that process.”

Furthermore, Boulder preaches inclusivity but does not entirely demonstrate it. Anyone who lives here could tell you why racial, religious and financial diversity are all crucial, but would likely decline to support, or worse, would ignore the notion of political diversity. It feels as though Boulder values inclusivity, but only certain types. 

This partisanship hurts our community, leaving conservative residents isolated. A CU survey in 2014 revealed that 5.7 percent of faculty members at the Boulder campus identify as Republican as opposed to the nearly 50 percent that identify as Democratic. Of the students at the campuses combined, 17 percent stated they are Republican. CU senior Chris Kohl elucidates that liberal students “…can go to class and be reassured in their political views and have friends and not have to worry about being shouted down in class or anything like that. Those are things that conservatives have to worry about.” Conservatism is a wide range, and the Republican Party includes a vast variety of voters, including young people. As CU senior Marilyn Alexander puts it, college should be “…an open space for everyone’s opinions and dialogue,” not an environment where politics cultivates exclusivity.

The overwhelmingly liberal atmosphere of Boulder has reached a point where it is not only suffocating our community, but it is beginning to cause harm to the young population of this town. “The Boulder Bubble” is apparent every day, and it is sneaking its way into my education and the education of thousands of students just like me. It is easy to ignore what is happening, or to believe that it’s okay because we are “in the right,” but when we allow this influence to take power, we become exactly the same as every overwhelmingly conservative town in America. Communities on both sides of the political spectrum need to open their minds and welcome all people, especially the ones they don’t agree with, if we as a country are to fight the extreme polarization that has done so much damage to us all. There is still a chance for change, acceptance and inclusivity before it’s too late; I deeply hope Boulder will take it.