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Monkey Business

The party spoiler

Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them away.-Ronald ReaganDemocrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians and non-voters alike mourned the June 5 death of former President Ronald Reagan. The man was an icon among political leaders. From movie star to president, he embraced a variety of Americans and a myriad of lifestyles. My best friend in Indiana, a social worker and staunch Democrat, adored Reagan. Yep, the one they called “the Gipper” was a popular politician.All I remember thinking, when Reagan was elected in 1981, was, “Wow, anyone can be elected if they’ve just chosen a movie star-turned-California governor for president.” (Does this mean Arnold Schwarzenegger will be president someday?) Regardless, when we elected Reagan, I believed anyone could toss his or her hat into the political ring and have a chance at winning.However, it is 2004; the two parties remain dominant, and I am almost certain that only the deeply embedded, politically savvy, stick-by-your-party candidates are privy to getting on the ballot. Or do the ballots reflect the financially well-off, highly visible movie-star type? Next up: Tom Cruise? Brad Pitt?It all feels like a crock of you-know-what. In June, I was at a housewarming affair in Falcon, talking politics with a couple of new friends, and one individual said, “You know, highly intelligent people don’t get involved in politics.” Perhaps former President Reagan was right – the intelligent are snatched up in private business, or they simply don’t have a chance to get into the arena because they haven’t been hobnobbing with the good ole boys. When a president makes a comment about the intellectual level of the office he held, what does that mean? Are the masses, too, losing confidence in our leaders?Are people staying away from the polls because they view the politicians as men or women who are more interested in advancing their own personal agendas? I’ve heard it many times: “I am not going to bother to vote because my vote won’t count,” or “what does it matter anyway.” How did we become so cynical about the system?Maybe it started with local politics, like the District 2 county commissioners’ race. Most of you who read the NFH know that we came out in support of Jim Day for county commissioner. I soon discovered that not everyone agreed. Of course, I didn’t expect everyone to agree. However, some say we should support the likes of a Margaret Radford – a current Colorado Springs City Council member – because she is a “seasoned politician,” familiar with the process. Radford has given a lot of time to the city of Colorado Springs, so I commend her efforts, but I will not vote for someone just because he or she is a “seasoned politician.”By the way, Jim Day did not make the fall ballot, and I surmise that some of the reasons he did not make the ballot are questionable. I’ll be talking to Day this month and reporting his thoughts in the August edition of the NFH.Anyway, on a national level, people say no to someone like Ralph Nader or Ross Perot (remember him?) because they might be a certain party’s spoiler. So what?Why do I have to align with one particular politician in fear of another? People have said to me, “You need to support Margaret Radford so Doug Bruce doesn’t get elected because Jim Day may not get enough votes to get on the ballot.” Whoa. If you are going to solicit my vote, you had better have a reason to do so. Tell me you have lived in eastern El Paso County for at least 10 years, enjoying the beauty and freedom of the prairie. Tell me you understand the tug of war between longing for a bit of the city amenities and fearing the demise of the rural setting – the reason you moved here in the first place. Give me a reason to believe that you connect to me. Maybe that connection is what it takes to get more voters to the polls.When did we lose the right to choose? When did someone lose the right to run for office because he or she was not in the “system” or continuously kissing up to a certain party? Why would the Colorado Springs Republican Party snub Jim Day because he “hasn’t done much for the party?” Is it a wonder we can’t get people to the polls? Is there such a thing as voter confidence, when money and party loyalty determine our political winners?Why should I support a conditioned politician simply because he or she knows the ropes? Give me a reason that I cannot vote for a third party or someone new to the system. Don’t tell me how to vote. Maybe someday that third-party candidate or that fresh newcomer will break through the ranks of the staunchly aligned voters and become a great leader. I hope I am still around to vote for him OR her!Truth: Voters took a risk when they elected a former movie star as the governor of California and eventually the president of the United States – Ronald Reagan. It turned out okay.Reagan is somewhere else – heaven, the Cayman Islands, waiting to be reborn, whatever you believe happens after death. The rest of us are still here to carry on and keep the momentum going. We cannot give up; we have to feel empowered through voting; we have the right to choose our leaders. Our leaders are not born from an association with a political party, an alignment with someone else’s agenda or their own agenda – be it development, religion, money or power. True leaders stand on their own with a sense of the bigger picture and a sincere desire to make the world a better place.E-mail your response to mlmon@att.net.

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