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Why commissioners should speak up

Tom Boyd

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”– Bobby KennedyWhen’s the last time you were able to have a face-to-face conversation with Gary Hart, Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Scott McInnis, Bill Owens, or any other state or federal official or possible presidential candidate?If you’re a county commissioner, it hasn’t been more than a few days.And if you’re a county commissioner, you have a responsibility to make ripples whenever you can, in the hope that your efforts will help create a current in national politics.Every morning the coffee shops are buzzing with talk about the ongoing struggle against terrorism and the potential threat of war with Iraq. There is talk on the chairlift, in bars and restaurants, on cable news and the headlines of every newspaper, from The New York Times to The Vail Trail. The issue effects every one of us. And conversely, the cars we drive, the imported foods we eat from around the world, the shoes we wear and the goods we purchase all send ripples through the fluid global networks that bind us.So I applaud the efforts of 147 (and growing) city, county, and state governments that have taken time to announce their stance on our current foreign policy procedures. And I also applaud two of our county commissioners for signing a resolution after 9/11 announcing their support of President Bush and his war on terror, though they hardly did it out of idealism.But if you supported a resolution the first time around, you should support one now, because the money that is empowering our federal government comes from our pockets.And for those of us who aren’t players in the political game, it’s even more important for us to inform ourselves, be part of the process, and make sure that at the very least our voice is heard.During times of crisis, a community looks to its elected officials for leadership. Our county commissioners should encourage discussion, get to know the people they represent, and feel comfortable speaking on behalf of Eagle County. They should share our complicated doubts and concerns about the current situation with other leaders and ask questions on our behalf. No matter how small and useless the Eagle County ripple may seem, it can be powerful when it becomes part of a larger current in the waters of American democracy.Tom Boyd is assistant editor of The Vail Trail. He can be reached for comment at (970) 390-1585 or tboyd@vailtrail.com


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