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Be a voice for change. VOTE

This November support democracy: Vote!
Author: Skippy Mesirow, community activist and City of Aspen planning and zoning commission chair urges you to vote and vote for more participation by supporting 2A. 

Never in our lifetimes have politics felt so dirty, hateful, or crude. And that’s exactly why we need to lean in.

In America, and in Aspen, we have come to see citizenship as passive. A birthright bestowed upon us. It’s just so nice outside, the mountain is calling, and much of our lives feel guaranteed. They are not. To be a citizen was never intended to be passive, and never has democracy withstood prolonged inaction by its citizenry.

The world Citizen comes from ancient Greece, the world’s first true democracy. One was born into a state of “idiotes”, someone who was private, selfish, and self-interested. It was only through a lifetime of actions and education that you could transform to be celebrated as that which was most revered, someone who was entirely public, selfless, and put the public interest ahead of their own. On that day were recognized as a Citizen.

It has been said that “The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back into bondage.” America is 241 years old and we are shifting somewhere between complacency and apathy.

As our politics become more tainted, we are inclined to bow out, to put our energy somewhere that feels better. Art, work, sport, relationships. Yet when we pull out of the public sphere, we are making an implicit agreement with our collective decline. We are placing our personal wellbeing ahead of public wellbeing. We are living in a state of “idiotes”.

As good people leave the political arena, we leave behind those at increasing extremes. Like any warrior in a stadium, the inclination for those who remain is to deepen the cycle of division, conflict, and eventually, violence. We may enjoy our art, or work, or sport, or relationships now, but they are made possible by the safety, education, security, and freedom, that underlie them. Our political stability provides these. When we indulge ourselves without caring for our collective self, we allow our democratic foundation to erode and open ourselves to a future where these same opportunities become less available or unavailable to our children and grandchildren. We are the custodians of our future.

When our democracy becomes unsavory, we must lean in, fill the middle, and insist through power of action, courage of conviction, and determination of thought that we claw our way back from complacency to abundance, and not fall further down the path of apathy.

It’s a choice. Our choice. More than ever it’s time to lean in and act.

“Democracy cannot endure if ignorance prevails.” –Dianne Ravitch. And we cannot be US without a shared sense of humanity. We will not solve this tomorrow, and we cannot be asked to lift the world on our own. Instead, we must gather together, and each ever so slightly lift the rock of democracy back up together.

Here is your tip: We can do it, but only if we choose to. Be the solution and example by taking one small action each week to find mutual humanity and come together.

Here is your tool: Read one news story or post from a person you know disagrees with you and comes from a different background while thinking “This person cares for me and the betterment of our community and has a different path to achieve it”… Then, take the time to engage that person one-on-one with a shared stated goal of understanding their position and how they arrived there. Refrain from trying to convince them of your prescription.

Lastly, VOTE. Vote on everything at every level. Millions have died for this right; your only job is to maintain it. It may seem insignificant, but collectively it is the most significant action we can take. If you fail at this, you have failed us all.  Be a Citizen. Lean in.

Early and mail-in voting have already begun. Participate and VOTE!

Vote from 9a-5p M-F from now until Nov 6th, and 7a-7p on Election Day November 6th in the new County building at 530 E. Main St. Aspen, CO. for more info.

Author: Skippy Mesirow, community activist and City of Aspen planning and zoning commission chair. To learn more or how you can get involved email him at

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