Roger Marolt: Taking democracy seriously by putting each vote into perspective
Some would say I have earned a reputation of being politically active. I want to set the record straight: there is no doubt I have that reputation. People accuse me all of the time.
What I dispute is that I earned this character flaw.
To earn something you have to want it, sometimes badly, and you must work to get it, sometimes hard. When it comes to politics, I neither want to be politically active nor have I worked at it. I vote. That’s as far as I usually go with it.
There was that last election in the spring, though. With it, I inadvertently added to my reputation as somebody who is involved. My name ended up on supporters’ lists in a couple of political ads. The thing is, the two ads my name appeared in were about the same issue but one was for the initiative and one against it.
That’s what it came down to after both sides solicited my support. I said “No” to both and they persisted anyway.
For a time, everyone was satisfied because few read the other side’s ads. Then someone noticed I was both “for” and “against” the same issue and wondered how that could be. They accused me of making a mockery of the process. I said everyone got what they deserved.
I really am not a political person. I have never been a member of a political party. I am rude to telephone pollsters. I have never worked on a political campaign, except for maybe carrying a stack of flyers for my wife when she went door-to-door running for the school board. She did the knocking and talking. I stood in driveways checking ball scores and emails.
It would not be honest to claim I have never been emotionally invested in an election. I cared about my father’s campaigns for Aspen City Council and Pitkin County commissioner. He was a Republican. I also cared about my wife’s elections. She’s a Democrat.
In national elections, where I had more perspective about the relatively minuscule value of my vote and opinions in determining the outcomes, I have voted for the likes of George Bush and Barack Obama. I thought each was kinder than his opponent.
The two big issues I have been emotional about in my life were not actually political. I was against both. I am zero for two.
The first issue was Base Village. It wasn’t too conservative. It wasn’t too liberal. It was simply too damn big, too poorly imagined, and too designed to work only during the peak of a historically robust worldwide economy that was too good to last.
The next was Donald Trump. He also was neither too conservative nor liberal. He is simply too damn dishonest, immoral, narcissistic and racist. I can’t get past his lack of character, so I don’t even know or care much what his politics are. I don’t like it that when people around the world think of the United Sates, the image of his mug pops into their heads and makes them shake it. It was better when the association was with the Grand Canyon or Disneyland. Nobody has made the connection between us and the Statue of Liberty for a long time.
But enough about national politics and the general state of worldly affairs with ‘Merica in the bull’s-eye. This is all about me and my perceived dedication to track political matters.
Does anybody remember my campaign to be mayor of Snowmass Village? If you do, you were paying attention to the wrong things. It was about 15 years ago. I announced my candidacy, picked up my candidate packet at Town Hall, and thought it would be a nifty idea to get my editor to be the first name on my petition. She informed me that I would have to resign my position as columnist if I ran. I resigned my candidacy instead. Just like that, it was over, shorter than my stint as HOA president. How is that for a principled politician? Obviously, I was in it purely for the … Actually, I have no idea why that idea so transiently enticed me. Something short-circuited in my ego, I suppose.
So, here I am, believing I have discovered the way to save democracy. It will not grow stronger with apathy or ignoring the issues, neither of which I espouse. However, I think it is fortified by all of us humbly accepting our important yet minuscule role in the grand outcome. We need to care more by being invested less. It is the only way I see to maintain respect, which is after all what this all comes down to.
Roger Marolt believes that, except for the campaigns and meetings, holding political office would be fun. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.