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John Colson: Hit and Run

John Colson
Aspen Times Weekly

To continue a metaphor I started with weeks ago, we’ve rounded the final turn of Election 2008 and are headed into the home stretch.

The black stallion and the aging war horse are running flat out, eyes wide, nostrils flaring. The jockeys on their backs (managers, advisers, sycophants, etc.) are all but forgotten and no longer having any effect on the race, just hanging on for dear life and hoping they don’t get trampled if the pack goes down.

The wire is so close now, our two surging contestants can see it shimmering in the evening light; the bets are all down and registered, the track seems clear of obstructions barring some last-minute earthquake, meteor or some other, less natural disaster born of desperation, legalistic trickery and single-minded lust for power.

And in the stands we sit and fret, waiting for the final outcome.

I’m actually taking a week off, the first time in some 30 years of working in the valley that I won’t be present for election night. But I’ll be in Florida, epicenter of electoral fraud and dirty tricks, so maybe I’ll get to witness some skullduggery.

I’m going for a family wedding, and many of those I’ll be hanging out with agree with Republican candidate John McCain that Democrat Barack Obama is a socialist at best, or a Taliban plant in our midst at worst. So we won’t be talking politics, at least not unless I feel a sudden urge to start a brawl, which is not likely under the circumstances.

I notice as I get ready for the trip that I am gripped in the iron clasp of nervousness, and it’s not the trip that has me jittery. It’s this election.

Already we’ve heard about attempts at electoral fraud ” a fake electoral notice in Virginia announcing a “state of emergency” and directing Democrats to wait until Nov. 5 to vote; absentee and early ballots not sent as requested; challenges to mass registrations over the most ridiculously minor aberrations in procedure; armies of lawyers wait in the wings, ready to leap into the fray.

The list goes on, and it is a harbinger of bad things to come. I fear we’re about to go through another variation of the 2000 election, in which we don’t know the results for days or even weeks as the two sides posture and punch at each other.

Back then, if you don’t remember, the issue went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which breached like a rising whale along partisan lines and decided things in favor of the mental midget and political puppet who’s been occupying the White House for the past seven and a half years.

Ever since that black moment, we’ve been harried every couple of years with tales of electoral irregularities, and as far as I’m concerned, this has to be the first priority of the next administration, whichever horse crosses the line first.

Our vote is the foundation of our democracy, and to permit its corruption by the hacks and hustlers who inhabit our political swamp is not only stupid, it’s self-destructive.

I heard a report on NPR recently about a study that shows our ability to multi-task blooms over time, reaches its peak when we’re in our 20s, 30s and maybe later, and starts to fade as we reach our declining years. Not exactly an earth-shattering revelation, but it got me thinking.

It seems to me the younger sections of our population are too busy to fix this election thing; they’re trying to keep their chins above water in the flood of bad economic news channeling down the street.

So it’s up to us, the late-middle-agers and beyond, to try to fix this.

I think we can do it, but as noted above, we aren’t that good at doing several things at once. Kind of like driving while talking on our cell phones and finding change for the toll booth; it’s a recipe for trouble.

So, it’s time to focus. We all know what’s needed ” put most simply, a method for registering voters, gathering votes and counting them that does not rely on any system that can be tampered with or undermined by anybody, on any side, for any reason.

We’ve been to the moon, damnit ” surely we can figure this one out without too much brain damage.

But as we’ve seen, horse races are simple. Elections are not. It’s time to get to work.

jcolson@aspentimes.com


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