Vail Daily column: Election season fables
Vail Valley Partnership
We will be voting this November on not only national and state representatives (Senate, House, Governor, state Senate, etc.), but also a variety of local elections including two board of county commissioner seats, county sheriff, town council representatives and more. The barrage of television advertising and automated phone calls have begun — and we have another seven weeks of them before the elections.
Election season, in many ways, reminds me of the fable of the elephant and the blind men. As a refresher for those who might not be familiar with the story:
Elephant and The Blind Men
Once upon a time there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, “Hey, there is an elephant in the village today.”
These men had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, “Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway.” All of them went where the elephant was. Each of them touched the elephant.
“Hey, the elephant is a pillar,” said the first man who touched his leg.
“Oh, no! It is like a rope,” said the second man who touched the tail.
“Oh, no! It is like a thick branch of a tree,” said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.
“It is like a big hand fan,” said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.
“It is like a huge wall,” said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.
“It is like a solid pipe,” said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.
They began to argue about the elephant and every one of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated. A wise man was passing by and saw this. He stopped and asked them, “What is the matter?” They said, “We cannot agree to what the elephant is like.” Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like. The wise man calmly explained to them, “All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently is because each one of you touched a different part of the elephant. So, the elephant actually has all those features.”
“Oh!” everyone said. There was no more fighting. They felt happy that they were all right.
The moral of the story — and the tie to election season — is that regardless of our beliefs (or political leanings), we are best served to recognize that there might just be some truth to what someone else says, even if it conflicts with what we believe based on what we “see.”
The fable of the elephant and the blind men resonates as we are in our bi-annual election season and it sadly translates to our political circus. As the fable teaches us, sometimes we can see the truth and sometimes we cannot because we all have different perspective on our local, state and regional issues.
We Can Do Better
National candidates, fueled by outside interests and outside money, fight their way to Washington tend to race to the bottom, disparaging their opponent along the way. Locally, we can do better; we see each other at the grocery store or on the slopes.
While rather simplistic, rather than arguing like the blind men in the fable, our candidates should recognize that opponents (almost always) have good intent and just happen to see the world differently. Better yet, instead of candidates telling us how scary their opponent is, why not tell us why we should vote for them. As voters, we deserve better than candidates for office that spend their time and energy scaring us half-to-death about their opponent.
Much like the blind men in the fable, much can be learned from the pragmatism that comes from recognizing that it’s okay to view things differently.
Don’t miss the upcoming local and state candidate forums here in Eagle County (also scheduled to be broadcast on ECO TV), co-sponsored by the Eagle County Republican and Eagle County Democratic parties, featuring candidates for county commissioner, sheriff, coroner, clerk and recorder, assessor and surveyor. The debate is Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Eagle County Hearing Room, 500 Broadway, Eagle.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.