Sick of this election, preparing for the next | AspenTimes.com

Sick of this election, preparing for the next

John Colson

Tired of politics yet?Well, it’s almost over for this go-round, just a couple more days and we’ll all be able to get back to the business of blaming each other for whatever it was that went wrong with this election cycle, and sharpening our knives for the next.I’m as tired of it as the next guy, I should say from the outset. From my ringside seat as a reporter and columnist, I sit a little closer to the fire than most and get singed just a little deeper. But, since I chose the ride, I should take my medicine without too much complaint, wouldn’t you say?In this final stretch, I note with interest that The Aspen Times has endorsed a Republican for the job as secretary of state. This unusual move is probably as much for the shock value as anything, since the two candidates — Democrat Ken Gordon and Republican Mike Coffman – are fairly alike in many ways. They’re both reasonable guys who profess nonpartisan philosophies as their bedrock beliefs, which they pledge to follow in their duties running the state’s elections (and a couple of other things).So it probably was a tossup in the endorsement meeting, and the Times always has hated being categorized as a party-line organ.But Coffman is an unabashed Reaganaut who regularly invokes the name of the late Great Communicator as an example for the nation to follow, which makes me nervous. I recall the Reagan years as the beginning of a Republican penchant for lying to get out of a tight political spot (the Iran-Contra scandal comes to mind), and I worry about Coffman’s ability to break out of that mold.Coffman also forcefully styles himself as a “traditional” Republican who claims to want to shrink the influence of government on our lives, and cites his goal to cut the fees that corporations pay to register with the state.But it’s the Republicans who have been cutting taxes and raising federal spending to the point where some are predicting that within a few decades the entire federal revenue stream will be flying out the window to pay interest on our national debt. Does the word “disconnect” mean anything to you?I, for one, like it when the government takes “activist” positions with regard to poverty, the environment, transportation and other things that only government can handle effectively and for the common good, instead of leaving these things to the rapacious free market. And I do not feel comfortable with the idea that starving government by cutting off its funding is the way to achieve domestic harmony.Gordon, on the other hand, is a fairly middle-of-the-road Dem who appears to have carved out a well-regarded bipartisan niche in the Colorado Statehouse, which is a good case for his being a fair and nonpartisan S.o.S. He also spoke forcefully of the need to restore the integrity of our electoral procedures, and to make sure our elections do not become the envy of tinpot dictators everywhere.Enough on that point, though. This is not the first time I’ve disagreed with the position taken by the editorial board at this newspaper, and probably won’t be the last. Such is life. Move on.As we coast into the final days of this electoral season, I feel obliged to note that my home town of Carbondale seems to be gearing up for yet another political donnybrook over the town’s commercial culture. Specifically, it looks as though we’ll soon be once again battling over whether or not Carbondale needs a “big-box retailer” in order to remain fiscally healthy. At least that’s how I read the split on the Town Council over the matter, which resulted in the return of the big-box debate regarding the Crystal River Marketplace development site.It has been said by big-box proponents that we need a huge store of some sort to provide the kind of tax revenue that will allow Carbondale to meet the needs of its growing population. But town officials concede that sales tax revenues have been growing at the wild rate of 12 percent annually or more, which doesn’t exactly put us in the “hardship” category among small towns.No, it seems more likely that those who felt cheated when Carbondale voters rejected a big-box plan in 2003 are smarting from the wounds suffered in that fight and are desperately seeking a payback. The problem is, in the process, they are snubbiing their noses at the will of the voters, who quite clearly indicated they did not like the way the town board of trustees was handling the matter.The most likely result will be yet another bloody battle, unless a spirit of accommodation unexpectedly rises from the ashes of the last melee and we figure out a way to avoid climbing back into the ring for round two.Perhaps the best we can hope for is a little breathing space between Nov. 7 and the onset of hostilities. After all, politics is the favorite sport of the valley, is it not? John Colson can be reached at jcolson@aspentimes.com

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