Grand County, your vote never counted more |

Grand County, your vote never counted more

Are your ears ringing and your eyes crossed by all the political ads on TV? “Why me?” you ask. Why are we being subjected to this cacophony?

There is a good reason: We are a battleground state. The race in Colorado is considered close by both presidential candidate camps. This year, unlike any in our recent memory, Colorado’s nine electoral votes are important. This is not like the Democratic primaries and caucuses where the votes were divvied up by the proportion of the votes; it is winner take all.

Whatever candidate wins in November, even if it is by one vote, gets all nine electoral votes, and that could make the difference in the election nationwide. If you are planning to vote for a third party candidate or sitting home, you can count your vote or non-vote as throwing the election as well ” one way or the other, it is just that close.

While we look at the reports of the polls pointing to this or that candidate in the lead, it is only one indication of how the election is going. The other is the extent to which the presidential candidates can gin up their potential supporters to turn up at the polls.

Enthusiasm does count. Campaign organization is crucial. Your enthusiasm, however, is no better than blowing hot air if you don’t vote. You must be registered to vote first and if you are not yet registered to vote, you don’t have much time to do it. The deadline is Oct. 6.

If the closeness of the race explains the media blitz, it also accounts for the choice the candidates have made for their vice president. Barack Obama’s supporters are enthusiastic: 25,000 Colorado Obama get-out-the-vote volunteers attended Obama’s convention acceptance speech at Mile Hi Stadium. While Obama knew that enthusiasm was not a problem, he also knows perception is even more important than reality, and the perception was that he did not have sufficient national security credentials. The reality is that his judgment had been verified by events. He was right on opposing the invasion of Iraq; he was right on putting more combat troops in Afghanistan; he was right in wanting a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq (both Iraqis and President Bush are in agreement with this now).

McCain was wrong on all of these counts. Furthermore, Obama served a term on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Nonetheless, he chose Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as a reassurance to all who had any qualms. There is no doubt Biden could perform the most important role as vice president: stepping in to be president if the sitting president was incapacitated.

John McCain took another tack. He saw that the Republican Party agreed he was too much of a maverick to drum up much enthusiasm (even though McCain’s legislative voting record was with President Bush 90 percent of the time). Instead of reaching out to moderates in his party or unaffiliated voters, he gave priority to choosing a candidate who could help invigorate the conservative voters he needed to turn out at the polls.

Gov. Sarah Palin fit the litmus test of every conservative issue possible: anti abortion to the extreme, refusing to believe that global warming was manmade, supporting drilling in the Arctic (even disagreeing with McCain on that issue), and for taking polar bears off of the endangered list so that they would not interfere with the arctic drilling. She is for teaching creationism in the classroom alongside evolution, and she is a lifelong National Rifle Association member. If Sen. Palin had her way, she would return women to the same status they had in the 1950s and environmental sensibilities to pre-Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.” If the McCain/Palen ticket wins, she will be positioned to have a powerful voice for her causes; and she is only a heartbeat away from being president.

What more could John McCain have asked? Maybe some national security credentials would have helped , but a 72-year-old McCain did not deem that important. Instead the McCain people promote Palin as being more experienced than Obama to be commander in chief, because she has administrative experience, ignoring even Obama’s term on the Senate Foreign Relations committee and his track record of correct judgment calls. Gov. Palin may have a tad more administrative experience than the other three principals in the race, but running a small state’s government that has a population of only 100,000 more than the city of Colorado Springs is nowhere in the same league as being the chief executive officer of the federal government.

We should also give her credit for being a mayor of a town with a population less than half of Grand County’s. It most certainly does not give her national security credentials. No matter how one spins it, her national security experience is zippo.

To think that Palin would win over the Hillary Clinton supporters was probably wishful thinking. All the women I have talked with are poles apart from McCain or Gov. Palin on social issues. Most of them supported Sen. Clinton because she also said she would fight for universal health care, equal pay for equal work, and public education improvement. Obama has also vowed to continue those fights.

There is nothing in the Republican platform to help those Clinton backers there. Both McCain and Palin support vouchers that would take public funding from public education to pay for private school education and they have promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Don’t get me wrong: I support women and mothers in politics and the workplace; I have been one of those. However, I do not support a candidate of either gender who fights for policies that are harmful to women’s abilities to succeed in public and personal lives, as Palin’s do.

The only conclusion I can draw is that McCain thought it was more important to risk narrowing his base of support and to activate what was left rather than to choose a running mate credentialed to step into the presidency or who had greater appeal to moderates. Palin serves that purpose. It is a short term, politically expedient choice to boost John McCain’s chances of turning out voters for him in November.

That is a testimony to the importance of voter turnout, if there ever was one.

If you are not registered to vote by Oct.6, you can’t turn out to vote. If you can’t go to the polls on Nov. 4, you can vote by mail but only if you request a ballot before Oct. 28 . You can go to Hot Sulphur Springs and vote at the Court House early from Oct. 20 through Oct. 31. To register to vote or to request a mail in ballot, get the forms on line at or call Hot Sulphur Springs Grand County Clerk and Recorder, (970) 725 3347, ext 110.

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