Colorado state senator Ken Gordon doesn’t represent my part of the state, but I’ve subscribed to his newsletter for several years because it’s so informative and interesting to read.
Yesterday evening, at the end of his term limits, he sent the following message. It seems timely to share with people of all political persuasions, within and beyond Colorado. I’d link to the text on his page, but it’s not posted there yet and he has given permission to publish.
From Ken Gordon:
Dear Friends and Neighbors:
Today is the last day of my
last session in the Colorado General Assembly. I actually can’t find words to
describe the experience except to say that it was [an] honor to be chosen by
the people of my district to represent them and an honor to be chosen by other
Senators to be the Majority Leader. I don’t know what I am going to do next.
Below is something I passed out to Senators today. If anyone wants to forward
these Rules of Legislative Conduct or publish them you have my permission. I
will continue to write as events occur. Thanks for all of your support over the
years. I am not retiring. I will still be involved in public affairs. I just
don’t know the form that will take.
Majority Leader, Colorado State Senate
Rules of Legislative Conduct
for future legislators)
- Think for yourself. If you don’t have any internal values that inform your conduct here, find another occupation.
- Leadership: You can’t always be liked and always
do the right thing. If you don’t have the courage to sometimes do the
right thing even though it will anger some person or support group, you
should find another occupation. If you don’t have courage, you may be an
elected official, but you are not a leader.
- If you are in the majority and you can’t pass a bill
that you want to pass without abusing the process, then you shouldn’t pass
the bill. If you can’t kill a bill that you want to kill without abusing
the process, then you shouldn’t kill the bill.
- If you abuse the process in order to prevent minority
party members from accomplishing anything that reflects the values of
their constituents, then you create a deep and bitter resentment. This
resentment will come back to haunt you in myriad ways. Abuse of the
process does not show strength. It shows weakness.
- Respect the minority party members. There are a large
number of people who voted for them. When you disrespect the minority
party members you disrespect many of the people of Colorado. And their ideas are not
- Think of the other members of the Senate as team
members—even members of the other party. The goal is not to be in the
majority. If that were the goal, then the other party would be the enemy.
The goal is to make Colorado
the best state in the country, or in any country for that matter. To do
this we need everyone’s help. If we don’t do this we will be at a
competitive disadvantage with states or countries that learn how to work
- Some people think there is a distinction between how
you act in a campaign and how you act at the legislature. If you lie
during a political campaign, that makes you a liar, and you will be
treated that way in the legislature as well.
- Respect the people who put you in office. You might
think that you do that, but every time you commit your vote to a lobbyist
or even another member before you have heard committee testimony or
debate, you have disrespected the people who wish to voice their opinion.
- Don’t let conflict escalate. Be the one who
deescalates. Be the bigger person. Be the person who acknowledges error.
If you have to, go outside and take a walk.
- Have pride in what you are doing. You stand on the
shoulders of many thousands who have worked or shed blood for our rights
and our democracy. Fewer than 2% of the people who have ever lived have
lived in a democracy. Don’t take it for granted. By your conduct here,
honor those people who fought for this democracy.
Senator Ken Gordon