Autumn Phillips " Now we’re talking politics on the Web |

Autumn Phillips " Now we’re talking politics on the Web

They say you shouldn’t talk about politics or religion if you want to keep your friends, but the kind of people I choose as friends usually can’t stay away from those subjects.

So, after we’ve asked, “How are you?” and “What’s new?” someone will throw out a friendly question like, “Who do you think will be the next president?”

Within minutes, voices are raised, faces are red and someone says, “Let’s change the subject.”

And it’s off to talk about the war in Iraq, Al White’s proposal to raise gambling stakes to fund education or the possible ramifications of the Bhutto assassination.

This weekend, I headed down to Arizona to visit the people I left for Grand County.

They are in the middle of city council elections, which have the biennial effect of ripping the community down the middle like a T-shirt turned shop rag.

Word got out that I was visiting and the Friday night wine tasting was packed with people who wanted to hear about my adventure moving to a strange place and transforming the local newspaper.

After talking to 10 or 20 people, I whittled my speech down to three talking points ” It’s cold, I think they’re getting used to me and the skiing is fantastic.

I learned to talk fast, because I quickly figured out that’s not what they really wanted to talk about. When you have a glass of wine and the ear of the former editor of your local newspaper, you want to talk about politics ” “off the record.”

After I heard the gossip about all the local candidates, we moved on to the national elections.

While I was in Arizona, the state’s governor, Janet Napolitano, endorsed Barack Obama for president and was heading to Nevada to campaign with him.

You won’t meet many people in Arizona who don’t respect Napolitano ” liberal or conservative ” and her endorsement had people thinking and predicting an Obama/Napolitano presidential ticket. Some were even willing to consider crossing party lines for a ticket like that. Others wouldn’t dream of it.

Talking politics is a great way to broach things that are deeply personal ” moral beliefs, financial lives, economic backgrounds ” without really talking about them.

That’s why those conversations are so emotional, yet are perfectly acceptable to broach with a stranger at a dinner party.

Two weeks ago, we posted a question on our Web site, “If the presidential elections were held today, which of the following candidates would you vote for?”

I cleared the cache once after several candidates dropped out of the race, but readers have still been voting ” painting a daily changing picture of Grand County’s political beliefs.

Two days ago, we added an entire section of the site dedicated to the local, state and national elections. (You’ll see it on on the left hand side: “Elections 2008”)

We have videos from candidates, recent poll results and links to articles. It’s mostly focused on the national elections right now, but as we move toward the April municipal elections, that spot will become a one-stop for information on local candidates and issues.

Log on and let me know what you think next time I run into you at a fundraiser, wine tasting or on the chair lift ” “off the record,” of course.

If you aren’t likely to run into me in those places, I’m always available at (970) 887-3334 ext. 19600 or

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