Ken Gordon, an endearingly funny, fine human being, who happens to be Colorado's Senate Majority leader, is running for that state's Secretary of State -- mostly because he wants to be in the best position in Colorado to guarantee that elections are fair and run according to the best principles of democracy.
He is also very, very wise in the ways of politics and told this story to help people understand how critical citizen participation in participatory democracy is.
I was born in 1950, five years after the Second World War. I grew up learning about the fight between democracy and tyranny; Hitler and Mussolini versus Churchill and Roosevelt... And I learned about the holocaust.
The impression that this made on me was that things don't automatically turn out okay. People have to pay attention. Our democracy allows people to participate, but it doesn't force them to. People have to decide on their own to take this responsibility.
After Columbine I carried the bill to do background checks at gun shows. The guns used in that tragedy came from the Tanner Gun Show. I was at an event and a woman approached me. She said, "Are you sponsoring the gun show background check bill?"
I said, "Yes."
She said, "Is it going to pass?"
I had counted the votes. I said, "No."
She said, "Why not? Everyone thinks that bill should pass. After what happened at Columbine, this is horrible. Why isn't it going to pass?" She was angry, and because I was the only one there, she was angry at me.
I said, "Do you know who your State Representative is?"
She said, "No."
"That is why the bill is not going to pass."
The world is run by people who show up. There are no other adults. If we don't handle things, decisions which affect all of us will be made by a handful of people who want to make a profit or who share some strongly felt but minority ideology.
I think democracy matters.
If you're interested in learning more about Ken Gordon, go here. On his website, you can read more of his writings and watch one of the best (and funniest) campaign commercials ever. If you want to donate to his campaign, you can do that there, too.