Letter: Democracy in action | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Democracy in action

I suppose after an election it is incumbent on the people involved to publicly express their feelings. I wanted to Grok the election results before making a statement. I do not want to use the word “mandate” because I have always disliked post-election spins. In the past, we have all heard post-election spins like, “This is a clear and decisive victory and a mandate to follow, blah blah blah.” All we really know from an election is who the prevailing side is. Why any voter cast their vote on an issue is mostly unknown. We have a secret ballot. Nobody knows how you vote unless you disclose it. There are many safeguards in our process to ensure a secret ballot. If Base2 passed, I was not going to say they bought the election. I have faith in Aspen voters to make the right choice; this is exactly what Art said when the City Council sent the issue to the voters.

By their very nature, elections are polarizing. They are dualistic. Elections are competitive; perhaps that is why they are referred to as races. Elections can become argy-bargy, to borrow a bicycle-racing term — elbows fly, and pushing and shoving occur. When the race is over, it is important to leave those energies behind. Gloating in victory does nothing to heal wounds; in fact, it cauterizes the wound, leaving a scar. Drawing conclusions on results is an inexact science. I am not confident enough in abilities or wisdom to tell everyone what the results mean. I hope we will all draw our own conclusions.

I hope that the younger people in this town who got engaged in the election will stay engaged for life. The future of our town is in their domain. I was pained that the Base2 issue became a wedge between generations. I reach out to them to try to bridge, to try to understand, to try to find areas of agreement and to seek common areas that we can build on. I do believe that the most valuable comment on an issue is a strong dissentive argument. A dissenting opinion, well-expressed and soundly reasoned, adds balance. We as a society need to invite and encourage open discussions on issues without judging the people who express them.

To all who voted, I say “Thank you.” For those who vote, there are no losers. I have voted in a lot of elections where my side lost — McGovern and Humphrey, to name but two. We accept defeat because we also celebrate victories. That is democracy in action.

Ward Hauenstein


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