Westminster, Colorado is a beautiful city that is located a few miles north of Denver. It is home to many people and families who love the mountains but also can be pretty passionate when it comes to political beliefs. The important thing to understand is how the majority leans politically.
Westminster, Colorado is a fairly liberal city, unlike how it was in the past. In the past, Colorado as a whole was able to shift one way or the other, as both parties had an equal amount of influence. This shift in politics has led to people being more vocal and divided on political issues.
Politics in cities is impacted by many factors including the history of the city, if the city is continuing to become more liberal, if the locals are nice to those of differing political views, and how to best navigate the political climate of Westminster.
Political History of Westminster, Colorado
Westminster, Colorado was settled in 1859 under the title of DeSpain Junction. The main thing that brought people to the area was the discovery of gold. Many people wanted to make a lot of money, so they would move their families to be there. Before this area was settled, people typically went to California.
But with this new discovery, people came and stayed. Eventually, people began to settle in the area more permanently. One of these people was named C.J. Harris. He helped organize the settlement process. He helped organize people as they built farms and churches. They even built a college nicknamed “The Princeton of the West” until it had to be shut down because of the first World War. For a while, it was renamed Harris, Colorado after C.J. Harris. In 1911, he proposed that it should be made a city. It was then renamed Westminster and was recognized as a city from that point forward.
The demographics of Westminster have seemed to be diverse from the beginning. Arapaho Indians lived nearby before it was settled. There have also been a large variety of people drawn to Westminster due to its proximity to Denver and its employment opportunities.
In the 2000 census, Westminster’s ethnic demographic was 84% white, 5% Asian, 5% other races, and a variety of other races including Hispanic and Latino. There were also smaller percentages of people who have Native American, Pacific Islander, or mixed heritage.
This demographic shows a possible correlation to what used to be more Republican values but has now switched to Democratic political values of social equality and equal opportunities.
Is Westminster Becoming More Liberal?
Westminster, Colorado is slowly becoming more liberal over time. In the last 20 years, people in Westminster have always voted for the Democratic Presidential candidate. From 2000-2008, the people who voted democrat were within 10% of the other party. However, from 2008-2012, the number of people who voted for the Democratic Presidential candidate was over 10%! In the most recent elections, the democratic leaning shifted from strong to mild and back again.
From my experiences living in Westminster for my entire childhood and some of my young adult years, I have found that Westminster is becoming more liberal than it was previously. I specifically remember that we had an assembly to watch President Barack Obama give his inauguration speech. I don’t remember watching Trump’s Inauguration speech in class a few years later.
In conversations with my friends, I found that they often leaned strongly liberal and had developed a passion for the ideology. In nearby cities like Denver, there were often protests associated with more liberal values and beliefs that they went to. Some of these included Black Lives Matter parades or the Denver Pride Parade that is hosted annually.
This doesn’t even begin to touch on how laws have shifted in the last couple of years. Colorado is the first state to have made marijuana legal on 4/20/2012. People relished that opportunity and have continued to push the limits when it comes to recreational drug use. There are rumors that LSD or Magic Mushrooms will be legalized next.
Right now, Westminster is categorized as a somewhat liberal area due to voting patterns. As far as where the political leaning of Westminster, Colorado is headed, it is quite possible that it will continue to become a more strongly liberal area like its close neighbors Denver and Aurora.
How do Locals Treat Others with Conservative Views?
Coming from a local perspective, I would argue that the residents are pretty tolerant of people who have conservative views. Most of the liberally minded people I have met want to have good and productive conversations about politics. I remember having conversations with my friends about politics and tough subjects, and more often than not, we all came out of it more educated than we were before.
However, that is not always the case. Some people can become incredibly passionate about a point of view or stance. This is especially true when talking about hot-button topics, like abortion, police, racial inequality, and sexuality. As seen through the media, people are more than willing to attack others for their beliefs on both sides. Westminster is not exempt from that phenomenon. In fact, Westminster votes within 5% of the other party frequently, so there is enough of a divide to cause contention.
On a larger scale, there is more of a political divide that has become more present with time. In 2013, the northeastern counties in Colorado were angered by gun regulations and new quotas on renewable energy sources. This caused them to put in ballot measures to try and secede from Colorado. In 5 counties, this measure passed. Another larger 6 counties voted against it. Ultimately, the measure didn’t go through, and Colorado is still one large state. But the fact that Colorado has had this kind of division in politics in the past is concerning for the future.
The main and most important thing to keep in mind is that how people choose to interact with others is a personal decision. Whether they lean liberally or conservatively, people should choose to treat others with kindness and respect. People usually are polite and let people have their own opinions when it comes to politics in Westminster in my experience.
How to Navigate the Political Atmosphere of Westminster, Colorado
Regardless of how an individual stands politically, it is important to have a few tools to be able to navigate more intense political atmospheres. There are 3 main ways that a person can most effectively navigate a political atmosphere or conversation: don’t bring up politics unnecessarily/needlessly, bring up your opinion at appropriate times, and listen to others to understand rather than refute.
1) Do Not Bring up Politics Needlessly
This is probably the easiest way to stay away from politics or talking about it. If it’s not brought up, it won’t be talked about and people won’t get mad or hurt. It’s that simple.
But despite our best efforts, there are times when a friend might bring up a statement that could cause a fiery conversation. However, it’s all about making the best choice for the people in the conversation. Sometimes, it is better to not push further. Bringing up politics needlessly leads to burned bridges, even when the people agree, just because most people do not enjoy political conversations.
2) Bring up Your Opinion at Appropriate Times
It might seem like this might contradict point one, however it does not. There is a difference between being overbearing with politics and sharing an opinion. If the conversation is not heated and a person feels comfortable, they should feel free to share their thoughts and beliefs. This doesn’t mean they won’t receive opposition, but it does mean that a person has a chance to be open about a different aspect of their identity. This is a good thing! Diversity in thought should be celebrated by both sides of the political coin.
3) Listen to Understand Rather Than Refute
Finally, the best advice is simply to listen with the intent to understand. If we only listen to refute, we will be so fixated on our ideas and how to beat the other person that the conversation will shift and become harsher and more harmful than before. Listening to understand requires humility, and you may simply have to sit and feel uncomfortable. It requires trying to be present and override strong emotions.
The benefit of this method is that it allows a heated argument to become a discussion. It becomes a learning experience for both parties and could strengthen the bonds between them as well. More often than not, we are all trying to reach the same goal. It’s just a different perspective on how to get there.
With all of this in mind, it becomes easier for people to be able to understand and enjoy where they live, regardless of the political atmosphere. Westminster might be getting more liberal, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be an amazing home for conservative people as well.