Wars remain major issue with Vail Valley voters | VailDaily.com

Wars remain major issue with Vail Valley voters

Dustin Racioppi
Vail Valley, CO Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado “-When Jason McEldowney received a message on Facebook last month from a high school friend now stationed in Afghanistan, he was reminded of a stark reality that hasn’t garnered the spotlight it once had prior to the meltdown on Wall Street: There are wars going on in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It’s fascinating what happens in a presidential race,” the part-time Avon resident said, pointing out that the candidates have shifted their focus from once-high priority issues like the War on Terrorism and immigration.

“We as a country have become a bit of a dichotomy. We’ve lost our ability to multi-task, if you will,” he said. :We do really well at one thing and then poorly at the other.”

But McEldowney, like many in the Vail Valley, hasn’t forgotten about the country’s presence in the Middle East and still sees it as a priority this election year.

“The war, of course, is not forgotten. I don’t think anybody has forgotten,” Edwards resident Berneil Bannon said.

Well, neither have the candidates. Their priorities have simply shifted, locals say, and rightfully so.

“Definitely the attention’s been diverted from the Iraq occupation to the economy,” said

Cliff Russell, who works in Edwards. “I think people are definitely feeling the crunch. It’s understandable that it’s probably taken more of a priority.”

And since the backlash of the slumping economy is more palpable at home, Russell said it’s easier for people to lose focus on foreign affairs.

“It’s different than it was in Vietnam, it’s different than it was with World War II where people had to make sacrifices,” he said. “It’s very easy for people to divert their attention to the economy because they feel the direct affects, whereas they don’t feel it now unless they have a loved one over there.”

Tyler Walker, of Minturn, said he’d like to see more emphasis placed on how to specifically get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, but hasn’t to this point. Instead, its been all economy, all the time, he said.

“Right now I’m more concerned with foreign policy,” Walker, 22, said. “I feel like we’ve learned enough economic lessons from the past that we can figure this out. Foreign policy is much bigger.”

And, as McEldowney said, foreign policy directly links to the local economy, which hasn’t been a major talking point in this year’s debates.

“Part of our country’s predicament is we’re spending $10 billion a month on something we never should have gotten into,” he said.

Russell echoed that same sentiment, and said there hasn’t been enough attention on the connection between the war and the economy.

“Our economy is in bad shape because we are so deeply in debt and the war is part of that debt,” he said. “We’ve got a tremendous amount of money in Iraq instead of going towards programs that could help our economy.

“Obviously, they both need a lot of attention.”

Dustin Racioppi can be reached at (970)748-2936 or dracioppi@vaildaily.com.

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