To those who watched the presidential debate in Denver on Wednesday night and find themselves in need of political substance that is substantially more accessible: Mark your calendars and put on your thinking caps.
From 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24, Middle Park High School will resonate with the voices of candidates running for Grand County commissioner and local Colorado legislative districts. MPHS civics students will play an instrumental role in moderating the forum and developing some of the questions.
Other questions will come from you, the Grand County public. See the information box accompanying this column for details.
This forum is a joint effort of the Sky-Hi News, MPHS teachers and students, and various members of the community who helped plan and organize it. I offer my sincere gratitude to all who have worked so hard to make it possible.
I personally was lobbied a bit by some candidates to set an earlier date for the forum, as mail ballots will have been received by voters more than a week prior to the event. Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts essentially forced us into this date. Media outlets face a small conundrum as well: If election information is disseminated early enough to reach the very first voters, those who vote later often miss it because they are looking for the information closer to the election.
Moreover, while I understand the sentiment and confer on the mail ballot the same exalted status as sliced bread, I still prefer to hand deliver my ballot to a polling place on Election Day, if for no reason other than the sense of civic pride inherent in the simple act.
We are already disturbingly fragmented as a society, by just about any measure, and to the extent this common experience unites us in a sense of citizenship, it strikes me as a worthwhile exercise. Plus, you've gotta love sporting the "I Voted" sticker for the day.
Voting too early also presents substantial risks, given politicians' tendency to inadvertently reveal their true natures at inopportune moments. Once that ballot is dropped in the mail, it cannot be retrieved, regardless of what transpires between that fateful moment and Election Day. So, if you voted for Candidate X and he suddenly blows a gasket and starts talking to an invisible rabbit on live television, too bad: You just voted for Harvey.
All of which is a roundabout way of suggesting that it would behoove voters to hold on to their ballots until after they've had an opportunity to see the candidates in action on Oct. 24 at Middle Park High School. We hope to see you there.
Four years ago, yours truly shared a few thoughts about the impending presidential election, including this:
"Take this job and ... As the two presidential contenders enter the final days in their war of attrition, I can't help but think this contest falls into the category of be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.
Whoever prevails is going to inherit one heck of a mess. It seems to me, absent an event that unites Americans in common spirit, the next president runs a serious risk of being a one-term wonder."
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.