Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Hear that sound?

That’s the sound, thank God, of my telephone finally falling silent after the elections have come and gone. In the last month I received more calls from politicians than I get from family and friends in a year. On Tuesday, Election Day alone, my phone literally did not stop ringing. Unknown callers. Calls from area codes that only exist in the campaign world. Calls from, well, who the hell knows…Enough already.

Beyond that, the political advertising that permeated the airwaves had a putrid stench that literally seeped out of the television screen. There was nearly $4 billion spent on this election cycle and I’m going to guess that $3.999999 billion of it went to negative campaigning, the kind that impugns the integrity of not just a candidate but of anyone who supports that candidate as well.

It was an insulting onslaught that I firmly believe does not reflect the character of those who run for office, but rather is the product of those who are employed to get them elected. Why anyone would give these back-room political operatives blank checks to produce ads that say nothing about the candidates they support and spew filth about the opposition is beyond me. It can do no good for our country and, in fact, simply polarizes people on issues that are outside of the national debate.

It was with this in mind that I grumpily headed out to my precinct house to cast my votes on Tuesday. A pox on both their houses I thought as I drove down the road. My vote will hardly matter, and anyway, whoever gets elected won’t be able to change a damn thing. It was a joyless drive as I got my voting face on.

But as I pulled into the parking lot behind precinct 8 in Old Snowmass, my mood began to change. First, it was beautiful behind the Fire Station that serves as my polling place. The sun had just set over Mount Sopris and it was a spectacular late fall evening. There were folks coming out of the polls with their “I Voted” stickers on their lapels, folks who had made plans to do their civic duty and participate in the process despite the negative attacks that have been part of our landscape for the last few weeks.

As I went inside, there sat the volunteers who had been up since 5 a.m. and had worked the polls. They were tired, a little punch-drunk perhaps, but they were in good humor and it was a pleasure to work my way through the process with them.

Once in the voting booth, the first name on the ballot was John Hickenlooper, the Democratic candidate for governor and virtually the only candidate who eschewed the negative campaign ads that had been run this year. I suddenly felt much better about the process. I thought, here is a guy I can vote for because he gets it. It’s not about how bad the other guy is, it’s about how good a candidate can be.

As I went through the ballot I can’t say that I was happy with the choices that I had to make, but I was happy for the opportunity to have a choice, and I was happy for the people who had participated in the process, and I was happy to be in Old Snowmass.

Let’s just hope that we all did some good.