Denver – Rocky Mountain High to Rocky Mountain Hellhole
Seven years ago, Business Insider published, “14 reasons why Denver is the best place to live in America.” They recommended everyone consider Denver as “your next hometown” citing a strong job market, low unemployment, great restaurants, and practical perks such as a low crime rate and good schools. That was then. How is Denver doing now as “trendy and desirable”?
In answering that question, the Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle published, “Denver becoming America’s crime capital.” That’s quite the turnaround in less than a decade, especially when we think of New York City, Baltimore, or Philadelphia as America’s crime capitals.
In 1963, an unknown singer named Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr was urged to change his name if he wanted to pursue a musical recording career. “He took his stage name from the beautiful capital city of his favorite state, Colorado. Later in life, Denver and his family settled in Aspen, Colorado and his love for the Rocky Mountains inspired many of his songs.”
The rest is history. What would John Denver think of his namesake now? Would he still, “See it rainin’ fire in the sky, the shadow from the starlight softer than a lullaby”? Probably not. Now it’s raining crime, drugs, homelessness, illegal immigrants, and many other big city urban blights.
The Chronicle, noted above reports, “Crime in the Mile High City is now worse than New York City or Chicago, and growing increasingly dangerous as the new year begins.” This includes violent crime, where on a scale of 1 to 100, Denver outranks NYC by 2.5 points, and property crime where Denver surpasses Chicago by 4.5 points. Bet you haven’t heard that on the news.
“Auto theft is now an epidemic in Denver and the second highest in the nation”, according to Denver Police Department data. Nearly 100 vehicles are stolen every day in Denver and rather than “rainin’ fire in the sky”, Colorado is raining car thieves, now leading America in auto thefts per capita.
Other statistics are not flattering. Ranking, “U.S. cities for home and community safety, natural disaster risk, and financial safety”, Denver falls between Little Rock and New Orleans. For home and community safety, Denver sits between Baltimore and Fort Lauderdale. Not a flattering position for the Mile High City.
The plan, announced a year ago, hasn’t worked (YouTube screengrab)
If John Denver were alive today, he likely would stay far away from his namesake city, instead singing “Thank God I’m a country boy.”
Reasons for Denver descending into a hellhole are myriad including, as the Chronicle suggested, “Growing troubles with elevated property and violent crime, low first responder recruitment, high homelessness concentrations, and growing drug overdoses played large roles in the low ranking.”
What else could be at play? Start with leadership. Colorado was once a red state. In 2000, Republicans captured 51 percent of presidential votes, but in 2020, that had dropped to 42 percent. In the US House of Representatives, in 2000, Colorado elected 4 Republicans and 2 Democrats. In 2020 it was only 3 Republicans and 5 Democrats.
The last Republican governor in Colorado was elected in 2002. Denver hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1959-1963. Not coincidentally, Colorado established total mail-in ballots in 2013, likely contributing to the evolution from red to purple to blue for state politics.
According to Ballotpedia, “Colorado has a Democratic trifecta and a Democratic triplex. The Democratic Party controls the offices of governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and both chambers of the state legislature.” Colorado’s woes sit exclusively at the feet of the donkey party.
Does Democrat leadership correlate with high crime? Yes, it does. The Daily Signal found, “27 of top 30 crime-ridden cities run by Democrats.”
Immigration also plays a role.
According to the most current US Census, over 365,982 Californians have transplanted to Colorado. To illustrate the enormity of that number, if they all resided in one place, it would instantly become the fourth-largest city in the state.
Californians bring money, driving up home prices in Colorado, but also many import their leftist values, which made a mess of once beautiful and affordable California, now doing the same in Colorado.
Finances certainly are not helping Colorado as Axios noted: “New surcharges on top of elevated inflation, rising property assessments and skyrocketing energy bills are creating an avalanche of new costs for consumers.”
Denver has new expenses including feeding and housing thousands of illegal immigrants. Denver Mayor and other officials proudly virtue signaled support of Denver as a “sanctuary city”, as I wrote about a few months ago. Apparently getting what they asked for was not part of the deal, but now Denver is buying or renting large hotels to house illegal migrants while many US military veterans remain homeless.
Other factors in Denver’s decline include legalized recreational marijuana, one of the first states to do so in 2012. Magic mushrooms, too. In 2022 Colorado voters passed a ballot initiative to decriminalize possession and use of plant-based psychedelics. Such legalization attracts homeless people, as this survey suggests, furthering Denver’s overall decline.
Does legal weed worsen crime? The Hill answers that, “The legalization of marijuana has not resulted in a reduction in crime, as we were told it would. The numbers show the results have been quite the opposite.”
Denver, like many other Democrat-run cities, voted to defund the police but are now having second thoughts as fewer police translates into more crime. Per Axios,
The Denver City Council — whose members were vocally supportive of police reform protesters last year — made minimal changes to the budget proposed by Mayor Michael Hancock, who is adamantly opposed to any cuts in police spending.
In a democracy or republic, people get the government, policies, and outcomes they vote for, and deserve. Denver is a great example of this, and people are now voting with their feet.
The 2022 United Van Lines movers study was released last year, and it looks like more people left Colorado last year than moved into the state. CBS Colorado reported similar results. In 2010, 37,569 people moved to Colorado. In 2021 that number dropped to 14, 731.
John Denver, if he were alive, might be singing, “Country roads, take me home, To the place I belong.” Which would be far from Denver and much of Colorado.
Brian C Joondeph, MD, is a physician and writer. He lives in Colorado.
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