Crossing lines, and responsibility | VailDaily.com
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Crossing lines, and responsibility

Don Rogers

You don’t have to follow the money and vote how they tell you.Negative advertising doesn’t have to work.Alone, you make your decisions about which candidates should win, and how to vote on the various ballot measures.Ultimately, we each are responsible for the success of efforts to buy elections and gain votes by trashing, telling half-truths and outright lying about people and their positions.Yes, going negative is nearly an art form in the races for state and national offices. The inadvertent loopholes in election laws have made the campaigns more obnoxious instead of less so.But we enable all this by voting in line with the hardball tactics. Then we wring our hands and holler about how nasty politics have gotten. Well, ultimately, this is our own fault. The beauty is that no one can make us vote any particular way – or even vote at all. We ain’t victims. Just morons making excuses.I confess I shrug at the hijinks in the state House race between Ken Chlouber and Dan Gibbs. Both have infamous 527 organizations working on their behalf without their permission. My expectations have sunk low enough, I guess, that I can’t even work up proper outrage at it all. Too stupid, too common. I’m jaded.It’s the pollution of the local races that gets me going. This year, the filth has a Republican cast to it. Sorry. Four years ago, it was local Democrats doing this crap; we know because they identified themselves then.Both party’s faithful get carried away. I have no love in my all-too-tiny heart for either set of partisans. But I am heartened to hear local Republican chairman Randy Milhoan expressing disgust at the gutter level campaigning lately. That’s a stand-up declaration. Maybe next each party could actually lead their faithful away from the 527-style campaigning instead of alternately wailing about the other team and winking at their own low sins.Like we voters, they could take a little more responsibility for their actions. In that vein, a friend suggested I sinned this way in our endorsement of four Avon Town Council candidates.I laughed at first. I hadn’t made any personal attacks in that editorial. Sure you did, he said. And it was a cheap shot.In aiming to demonstrate that Village at Avon developer Magnus Lindholm can be hard to work with, I’d noted the aftermath of an accident Lindholm had that wrecked a dump truck. (Thank God no one was badly hurt, by the way.)Sure, our courts operate more or less publicly, but I could see my friend’s point.So I apologize for leaving any room for a reader to conclude that Magnus is not merely difficult, but maybe venal too. That wasn’t my intent, but I can definitely understand the interpretation.I sinned another time last week in being a bit harsh in calling the challenger for sheriff “inept.” If I could have that sentence back, I’d parse the campaign that way rather than the person, Scott Griffin, who I rather liked when we sat down and talked. Still harsh, perhaps, but the latter is a judgment on an effort that can be improved next time rather than declaring the person himself hopeless – like I’m anyone to cast that sort of judgment.It was interesting to defend as the truth with direct context to a point what a critic called an obvious cheap shot that went over the line.If I’m going to renounce the sins of others, I’d at least better be aware of mine. Where is that damn line anyway? The key word for me this election season is responsibility. We each are responsible for our own votes, no matter the money spent or how negative the campaigning goes.And we each are responsible for how we characterize issues and people when we offer our thoughts – over the backyard fence or in print.Boy, this ain’t easy. I can’t even quite exorcise this demon completely from myself while excoriating others whose demons have taken them over.I can’t control them. But I sure am responsible for myself. So I thank my friend for the lesson. Ouch.Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 748-2920, or editor@vaildaily.com. Read his blog at http://www.vaildaily.com/section/BLOGVail, Colorado


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