Sizing up Colorado, two centuries on

By John Andrews ( This morning my view from a hotel window toward Pike's Peak is obscured by a driving blizzard. Harsh autumn weather like this bedeviled the Pike expedition, first American explorers of our state, in late 1806. We're in Colorado Springs for an El Pomar Foundation lecture series I co-chair; last night's program used the Pike bicentennial as an occasion for some political self-examination.

The peak that later bore his name was, Pike wrote, "never out of sight in our wanderings" through the region. America's founding principles should stand as a similar landmark for Coloradans today, I believe. Pending a full report later on my 10/25 debate with Ed Quillen, here's the outline we spoke to:

“The American Experiment, 200 Years after Zebulon Pike”

Resolved: Colorado’s practice of liberty and equality today would meet with Thomas Jefferson’s approval

John Andrews, Former Senate President, taking the affirmative Ed Quillen, Denver Post columnist, taking the negative

1. Do you agree or disagree that Colorado’s practice of liberty and equality today would meet with Thomas Jefferson’s approval?

2. What are three strong points of evidence to support your conclusion? What points of contrary evidence would you acknowledge as valid?

3. Taking other prominent American Founders such as Adams, Washington, Hamilton, James Madison or Patrick Henry, can we identify certain founding principles for the American experiment on which all would agree?

4. Does it really matter what Jefferson or any of the Founders would think of our state and nation today? Why or why not?

5. What improvements do you believe are needed in Colorado’s practice of liberty and equality? What other key indicators besides these two should we be monitoring? What serious threats to the future of the American experiment are evident in our state today?