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Carman: Make Thanksgiving great again – no gloating allowed

Thanksgiving is no time to gloat.

Sure, here in Colorado we just surfed the blue wave in a big way. Bazillions were spent on both sides, which should hardly be a point of pride, but ultimately the outcome was decisive.

The predicted national blue wave dwindled to a wavelet as it rippled south to Texas, Georgia and Florida — a result that was clear enough that the relatives who come to dinner wearing MAGA hats may still have at least some of their 2016 swagger left.  

Diane Carman

So maybe it’s time to “go high,” as Michelle Obama says. Or to peek over what sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild calls “the empathy wall.”

If we ever hope to address some of the gnarly problems we face, it’s going to take mutual respect. So stop the celebrating already. Somebody has to take the first step toward civility.

In that spirit, just for grins, let’s game out a Thanksgiving Day conversation about one of our most contentious issues: The future of oil and gas development.

Front Range communities, frustrated by state laws that prohibit local control of the oil and gas operations, attempted to pass Proposition 112, which would have imposed 2,500-foot setbacks from schools, homes and water sources. But a large majority of voters who apparently accepted the industry’s argument that it would have drastically affected the state’s economy rejected 112 56.1 percent  to 43.9 percent.

Still, that means more than 1 million Coloradans supported the measure, and many of them have vowed to continue their efforts to keep drillers out of their neighborhoods and give communities the power to regulate the oil and gas industry the way they do other kinds of industrial operations.

The debate is far from over.

So, instead of burning money on another round of ballot measures when it could be better spent on, well, anything, we might want to ask our dinner guests from both sides of the partisan divide what it would take to achieve a settlement.

First, let’s assume that the newly elected leaders in the state are committed to resolving the standoff.

Then, they might start by looking at other states’ regulations. Consider Texas, which has managed to have a thriving oil and gas industry despite the fact that municipalities may establish their own setback requirements.

They might evaluate the technologies that could mitigate the impacts of drilling on surrounding communities, and enforce cheap, common-sense requirements that would dramatically reduce noise, traffic, air and water pollution, and the risk of exploding houses.

They might attempt to integrate the state’s goal to move quickly to renewable energy when making forecasts for our future energy needs and assessing the role that the oil and gas industry will play in our economy in, say, 2040.

After all, the landscape is changing rapidly. Our policies need to reflect that.

READ:Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Georgetown, Texas, is now the largest city in America to go to 100 percent renewables. Its Republican mayor, Dale Ross, has said the move has nothing to do with politics. “We’re doing this because it’s good for our citizens. Cheaper electricity is better. Clean energy is better than fossil fuels.”

We’re talking about Texas, people. This is inevitable.

Then the leaders might make it clear that this is not a zero-sum game. We’re all in this together.

Which brings us back to Thanksgiving dinner.

Most of us have learned all too well in the past couple of years that it feels terrible to be misunderstood, lied about and ridiculed for what you believe or who you are. Think about that before you demonize the people with whom you disagree.

If you’ve worked your whole life as a teacher, it’s tough to bounce back yet again from an electoral rejection that feels very personal. So, instead of lecturing the teacher over the cocktail hour about what’s wrong with education, maybe ask her what it’s like at her school.

All those who have worked hard to address gridlock across the state have to understand that nothing about this problem is simple. Instead of pontificating about the moral imperative to get out of your car and take mass transit, just ask what it would take to get the kids to daycare and then catch the light rail to get to work by 7:30.

We can all learn something on the other side of the empathy wall.

Or even the kitchen counter.

So, for all those who have not spent a week shopping, planning, chopping and cooking — listen up. The renewed commitment to civility means that it’s up to you to do the dishes, no matter what game is on TV.

And since we’re trying to be nice, not provocative, take off the damn MAGA hat.

It’s the least you can do.

Diane Carman is a Denver communications consultant. @dccarman