Growing up in Arkansas exposed me in an interesting way to the major two political parties in our country.
My father was a life long Republican and my mother a life long Democrat. I clearly remember sitting at the dinner table listening to them argue about Bill Clinton. My father basically couldn’t stand him and my mother thought he walked on water. Dad was a businessman and Mother was a school teacher. I admired them both and they were both very successful in their respective professional endeavors; however, either because of their jobs or backgrounds they saw the political world differently. As I have said to friends many times “There are really only two kinds of politicians in the world, those who think that the solution is more government or government is the problem”. I suppose that’s why I ended up being an Independent. Independents seem to be pretty powerful these days. What was interesting about the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts was a post polling analysis of voters; voters seemed to like Scott not because he was a Republican but because they were disgusted with Congress. I also think that is what lead to President Obama’s land slide victory, a complete disgust for Washington by most voters in this country.
As an Independent, what has driven me to the middle is probably the extreme positions of the far left and far right. Some people call themselves “Progressives” which would probably be what most consider a liberal Democrat and on the opposite spectrum a “conservative Republican”. As someone who has voted equally his entire adult life between Democrat choices and Republican choices I am personally turned off by both extremes. They usually have the same characteristics, they’re right and they have no interest in compromise. Compromise to them is the problem and not the solution and they continually vilify people that think differently from them. Some that come to mind are Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill Maher and Michael Moore. I do think that political pundits from the left are funnier. I’m sure there will be many in this town who disagree with my analysis but what’s new about that? We don’t have many Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh thinkers in Telluride at least from the conservative right side of the spectrum but we sure have a lot of Rush Limbaugh’s and Glenn Beck’s from the far left side. In fact during the local mayoral election a question was asked to all nine candidates if a Republican could get elected to a public office in Telluride and all nine candidates said “No”.
What does that tell you about closed minded think in the town of Telluride? As an Independent I find that amazing and as insane as the anti-Democrat statements that come out of Rush Limbaugh’s and Glenn Beck’s mouths? Glenn Beck is already critizing Scott Brown from Massachusetts as not being a real Republican, whatever that means. What President Obama and Scott Brown’s election have at least signaled to me is the vast majority of the voters in the United States are fed up with extreme positions from either parties “fringe elements”. Look at the recent issue about health care. The Republicans swear up and down the Democrats didn’t want to work with them and the Democrats said the exactly same thing about the Republicans. We in the middle are disgusted with it. Why does this matter to me living in Telluride? I have said for years I would like whatever the conventional wisdom is locally to be challenged by somebody occasionally. I just want to hear a different viewpoint. In fact I used to write a column in one of the local newspapers titled “Of Course I Could Be Wrong”, just to try to be diplomatic and open a dialog to an alternative thought on any subject. Ironically there were people who just detested me for even posing alternative suggestions to “local wisdom”.
How can there be a group of people that march down Main Street to the park every September 11th for peace when we can’t even make peace locally with alternative viewpoints? Look at the Shiites and the Sunnis in Iraq. They hate each other because they have different beliefs about what Allah is and politics. Peace is not just an abstract thought; it’s a conscious process of compromise. What do I wish for Telluride politics? A much more open community dialogue and diversity of thought without the usual personal attacks and the constant criticizing of the “other” political party(s).
Of course I could be wrong…