Nicholson: Eagle County residents should pay attention to what happens in Alabama (column)
November 30, 2017
On the verge of the special election to select a successor to Jeff Sessions, Alabamans will decide if Roy Moore or Doug Jones will represent their state in the U.S. Senate. A Senator, however, due to that body's nature, more so than the House, represents all Americans, regardless of the state from which he or she comes.
Recently, it took just three rogue Republican senate votes to keep 20 million Americans from losing their health insurance. On the one hand, Judge Moore's belief that the country has strayed too far from an anchored faith in God and what that dictates to behavior represents one side of the debate. On the other, U.S. Attorney Doug Jones, with a solid record of unbiased civil rights defenses and prosecutions, may show the way to a new day as the monolith of conservative politics begins to crumble in the South spearheaded by recent election results in Virginia.
It might not seem like an event that should matter to residents of Eagle County, but whether you live upvalley or downvalley, who wins this election will help determine whether the conservative or progressive agenda will prevail in our country. From revising the tax code, to health insurance, to Social Security and Medicare, to campaign finance reform — whatever your pet issue or issues, this election matters.
We have many wonderful families skiing with us from Alabama, some liberal and some conservative. We don't ask their politics. All we want to see are the smiles on their faces when they look up and see snowflakes floating out of clear blue skies. But the politics matter, nonetheless.
Conservatives might think they are the exclusive purveyors of morality-based laws, especially morality based on God's commands. But their long road is littered with too many fallen Christians for that argument to hold much weight. From Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker to, more recently, Ohio State Rep. Wesley Goodman and, yes, Roy Moore himself, attempts to legislate morality fall heavily when their sponsors are exposed as having fallen prey to the moral lapses they wish to persecute and legislate against. So, while cries of "Hypocrite!" seem to fall on deaf ears these days, none should think they ever go unnoticed.
To be fair, both progressives and conservatives have been caught up in the wake of the giant wave of sexual harassment claims. But, in this particular election in Alabama, voters have shown they are paying attention. The candidates are virtually neck and neck at the polls in a state that might otherwise have given little reason to believe a Democrat had a snowball's chance of defeating a bible-thumping Republican moralizer.
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I have heard many of my progressive friends make fun of religion or belittle those whose faith guides them. I don't judge them nearly as harshly as I do those conservative so-called Christians who would support tax breaks for corporate jets while denying Medicaid to a family in need. The former is just ignorant. The latter is just plain mean.
To all I would say that while your faith may guide your politics, there ought to still be a connection between the two, one based on compassion, not retribution. And yes, I believe this is still a country where we can afford compassion.
These are difficult topics to discuss in this day and age. But, we've done it before. Indeed, we've fought wars over it when we failed to discuss it. This is America, and like it or not, the only way this country moves forward is when we cooperate, listen to each other, really listen, and act together. So good luck, Alabama; I'm rooting for you.
Gus Nicholson is a resident of Avon and Denver.
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