Truthiness: The quality characterizing a “truth” that a person claims to know intuitively “from the gut” or because it “feels right” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.
I want to state up front that I am an admirer of Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland. But not for any particular policy he has passed to “save” Aspen because really, look around, nothing has been saved. Aspen has more in common with Los Angeles than it does with the mountains it sits in. I admire Mick because he is so hated by so many and is courageous enough to look them all in the eye and raise his issues, his voice and a certain finger in their face.
To research this column, I subjected myself to the video compilation on the classic website, www.sickofmick.com . Mick is portrayed with the help of 30-second sound bites as a pathological politician able to speak for himself eloquently and concisely. Is that bad? I kept asking myself why what he was saying was so offensive to the Sick of Mick folks. Nothing on it made me think less of Mick.
The accusations were the insipid rants of straw-grasping political ideologues. Mick wears bike clothing to meetings as if he thinks the entire process is a farce that gets in the way of having fun. (It is.) It’s been said that he used the city copier for personal reasons, though there is no proof that that was his bum. He has a tendency to leave his calming tone of voice at home when he gets excited, and that angers his shrill detractors. He doesn’t let developers build whatever they want wherever they want and that kind of pisses them off. He runs meetings as if he’s in charge and doesn’t suffer foolishness, or fools. He can be abrasive.
These traits would be admired as leadership if his critics agreed with him. Mick’s main problem is that he has principles and he sticks to them, but his critics seem united behind one common issue: Their hatred of Mick. They don’t have much else that I can ascertain.
Mick’s politics are the root of this hatred, but as I pointed out earlier, he hasn’t really been winning the war. Many policies have been circumvented while others have had opposite effects than what was intended. Developers still get their profit, though it might not be obscene, so we haven’t seen any taking their ball and moving to Vail.
Mick’s consideration to run for Aspen City Council wouldn’t have generated a single word of protest if it had been anyone else besides him. Most mayors in every term-limited town in Colorado start their career as councilmen and then move up. Mick was just lucky enough to start at the top and move down. (We should all be so lucky.) His popularity as a public servant has been irrefutable and his commitment to the community so entrenched that his political career has moved in reverse of the way it’s usually done.
However, this is how it’s done. Term limits have never applied to those moving from City Council to the mayor’s seat. It was expected. Why should moving down from mayor to City Council be any different?
It is evident that it is hatred for everything the man stands for, and therefore the man, that is the root of these never-ending campaigns against Mick. He is a symbol of an ideology that the opposite philosophy feels in its gut should be fought like a plague of locusts at all costs — the facts be damned.
The rudest people in the community accuse Mick of rudeness. He is an ideologue to be feared by the most radical ideologues the other side of the partisan divide can conjure. This perverse hatred of diverse politics is devoid of facts, born of truthiness, rooted in partisanship, and projected onto leaders who are representative avatars of the other side’s political philosophy — and has positioned the community, and the nation for that matter, to a failure of leadership.
After surviving two recall attempts, several bitter elections and vile accusations up to and including the implication that he shouldn’t be trusted around kids (www.sickofmick.com ), any normal person would ride away from community service as fast as his pedals could spin. Mick knows that’s what his enemies want him to do. So he stays, confident that the majority of voters see through the vitriol hurled at him and understand his passion to protect Aspen from the ravages of the bottom-line greedheads. Such courage should be admired.
Dogmatic hatred is political poison. There can be no political compromise and, therefore, no end in sight that is positive. Thanks to these tireless attack dogs masquerading as watchdogs, no one else would want these citizen leadership jobs. Qualified candidates shun politics because they’re too smart to wrestle with pigs. Who needs it?
The attack pigs deserve 10 more years of Mick just for being a-holes.
Email Johnny at firstname.lastname@example.org.