Election 2018Opinion

BIDLACK | Elections matter — no matter the office — so please vote!

Author: Hal Bidlack - June 5, 2018 - Updated: June 5, 2018

Hal Bidlack
Hal Bidlack

One of the side effects of being the son of a genealogist is that I long ago developed the habit of reading the obituary pages.

While I’m not in too much agreement with the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Op/Ed pages (except when I appear, but, frankly, that’s mostly vanity), I do think they do an excellent job of remembering the lives of our fellow Coloradans. While sometimes sad and wistful, the obituaries and life tributes pages also help remind us of what makes up the true core of Colorado and the United States – good people living good lives.

I read the Colorado Politics website every day (Ed: you better!) and it’s quite good. I enjoy reading the other writers’ essays on the opinion page. But like many of you, I can grow weary of the news of the day. As I type these words, the headlines include a story on Stormy Daniels appearing in Denver and a story entitled: He’s pro-incest, pedophilia, and marital rape. He’s running for Congress and has Colorado connections. Sigh…

We need to be informed and engaged as citizens – indeed, our nation depends on it. But it can be helpful to remember what unites us as well as what divides. We Coloradans, we Americans are enriched by our diversity of thought and deed. One need only look at the obituaries to see what noteworthy lives our fellow citizens live, albeit off the front pages for the most part.

We lost Clarence Cimino, who served in the Army and worked for the City of Colorado Springs for many years and played Santa at Christmas time. He and his wife were married for 59 years. We also lost Chuck Vogel, who made it to 98. Mr. Vogel served in the Army, joining the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He spent almost 40 years driving a bus in New Jersey before retiring to Colorado. He got people to work and back home safely, which is an honorable service to our nation. We lost Marvin Green, who at 101 had 10 decades of life to look back on, including more than 30 years as a cop in LA, and many more years volunteering here in Colorado for a number of organizations. And we lost “Skinny” McCormick, who worked in aerospace in Denver, helping assemble spacecraft that visited Mars, Saturn, and beyond. Remarkable and selfless lives lived by good people.

I believe Thoreau was wrong when he wrote “most men live lives of quiet desperation.” I think most men and women live lives with challenges and successes, with frustrations and with joys. I was struck that none of the obituaries made any reference to political party. Now, I understand that as a very political person myself, I’m the outlier. For most folks, politics is something often to be avoided until election time. That’s normal.

But there are two days when the lives of the average Coloradan and our elected officials and candidates for office directly intersect – Primary Day and Election Day. Just this week, mail-in ballots for the primary started to go out. All too many of our fellow citizens will ignore, discard, or wrap fish in the ballot, but I urge you most earnestly to do a bit of research and vote! You likely have been seeing commercials about the candidates for governor, but there are many other important choices to be made on the primary ballot. Who gets prosecuted and how our state invests and spends its money are on the line, to name only a couple of important races.

I’ve written before about how much more attention voters should pay to “down ballot” offices. Your local elected officials have more impact on your daily life than the president. And the ballot this primary season includes candidates for attorney general, state treasurer and more. These folks matter to you, even if you can’t name them.

Colorado has been blessed with gorgeous mountains, lovely plains, and good people. Good governance depends of not taking those blessings for granted. You have a duty as a citizen, even if you don’t think you care about politics. Those chosen for office by the people will decide a great deal about your daily life. And so, let’s remember the good people on whose shoulders we now stand, and honor their legacy by casting an informed ballot. It matters whom we choose within our parties and then again in the general election in the fall.

Don’t worry, I’ll remind you again in November.

Hal Bidlack

Hal Bidlack

Hal Bidlack is a retired professor of political science and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who taught more than 17 years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.