ESSAY: Rep. McLachlan on Inclusive Politics

In light of what is happening on the national stage right now, I have chosen to be inclusive, rather than exclusive, in my actions. What does that look like? It means actually walking across that aisle to talk with Republicans. It means listening to them sincerely in committee work and working to understand their viewpoints.

It is working within my party, disagreeing when necessary to represent my district, and supporting others who do the same. It means working with my party to assure our priorities reflect those of the people of Colorado.

Being inclusive also means talking with constituents. I encourage all of my constituents to reach out via phone, email or by attending one of my many public town halls. When constituents reach out to voice their opinion on an issue I will soon have to vote on, I always take their view into consideration. Whether we agree or not, the conversation is always helpful and helps me be a better representative for Southwest Colorado.

State Representative Barbara McLachlan

I am inclusive with the bills I read, trying to understand what the author wants, without judgment, and see if I can strike compromise in my heart. Being inclusive is listening to bill amendments with an open mind, always remembering that we all have the same goal in mind, just different ways of approaching it.

Being inclusive means supporting the resolution the Democrats presented this week in response to the federal ban on people from select predominantly Muslim countries entering the United States. We advocated for those with green cards and visas, whose only crime was temporarily leaving here, their home, then trying to re-enter. It is supporting people of every color, every religion, and every lifestyle to peacefully live and protest and prosper.

In politics, eventually you will reach disagreements. This is the price and prize of democracy. In a government by the people, differences aren’t settled by the biggest stick. We debate, we vote, we dialogue, and, as best as we can, give each other the benefit of the doubt.

This means that my duty is to oppose policies instead of opposing people. I will uphold the principle of respecting those I work alongside, no matter who they are or where they come from. Our success will depend upon combining the experience, talent, and perspectives from people across cultures, political spectrums, and county lines.

Let’s cultivate a better discussion and strive to always be inclusive.

Barbara McLachlan

State Rep. Barbara McLachlan represents House District 59, which includes Archuleta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, La Plata, Ouray and San Juan counties.