There was an election in Aspen last Tuesday. If you voted in it, how sure are you of whom (or what) you voted for? Did you plan on a reckoning down the road?
Your vote may have been primarily intended for the personality on the ballot. This wasn’t an “anybody but X” type of election. We weren’t being asked to throw anybody out. We didn’t see any cult of personality this time around (Skippy, you may be the exception!)
Let’s suppose you thought you were voting for “change.” How sure are you that your pick has the ability to actually implement what he or she proposed? What’s your Plan B in case you wake up in a few days repeatedly chanting, “Oh god what was I thinking?”
Did you get the feeling that you were being drafted as a change agent? Join the club, because we’re getting good at it. Much of the 2016 vote in the U.S. played that game. We jarred that boat into reverse last November.
We’re facing a MAGA moment now over The Wall. The choice could have been to fall for the MAGA line. Or it could have been an “anyone but him” moment. Was the change agent, a dude named Trump, capable of executing his plan? Or will he be remembered as a hastily-sketched character in a cast of Not Ready for Prime-Time Players?
It was a good act. Did you take it seriously? Then plan on forcing a reckoning.
It’s a question we might want to ask every time someone races across the election stage. You don’t quite remember the name, but the story sounds good. Now, how did he or she propose to pull it off?
We’re suckers for the change agent game. There’s a good reason that top consultants are paid millions to sculpt a candidate’s personality and message. You do your job and then sit down. Then you win! The consultant goes to work for someone else, and the winners are left to navigate the perils of victory, as Robert Redford reminded us in “The Candidate.”
And the rest of us? We got had. We got duped. We got jabbered. The only guarantee is that we’ll recover our innocence and naiveté in time for the next election. We haven’t figured out how to punish candidates who blindly make promises that they have no clue how to keep.
The year 2019 is surreal. We’re being offered the chance to believe The Wall will fix our woes. Dogma will take over when the evidence gets thin.
The London papers are noting that Brits are being seriously split over Brexit. It’s as bad as Trump or No Trump. Brexit is suddenly splitting British families and rippling apart friendships. Why? Nobody knows what Brexit really is, or if “it” will really happen. The notion of the U.K. leaving the European Union has 4,000 details embedded in it. Suddenly, the most important issue is what happens to a wall between Ireland and Northern Ireland that hasn’t existed for 21 years. It’s long gone and ended years of a bloody insurgent war. Now it may come back, due to decisions made, or not, in London and Brussels.
We answered a few basic questions in Aspen last week. Our next mayor is still subject to a do-over. But we weren’t asking anyone to walk the plank. The largest “change” question swirled around the inside story behind the upending of the long-standing city management crew.
Now we come to Lift 1A. A plurality voted for change, which was marketed as a combination of a new lift and revitalization. It could end as a story of throwing up a pair or more of new buildings that could push us to the OMG ledge. Research the history of Snowmass Village.
Mostly, we fear the prospect of nothing new. A “no” vote would leave a bunch of rich homes that prove only that a dollar isn’t what it used to be. We got a solid pledge: a new lift that will come close to the bottom of the hill. An alternative for getting up Ajax. And maybe some fancy new eats and entertainment up the hill — affordability for locals to be negotiated.
We voted for change and are pretty sure we’re going to get it. We’re not sure how much change will ride in with a new city management team, mayor and a partially-remodeled council.
But next time you see your favorite hopeful, double down. Remind your candidate that you’re riding on his or her pledge. There’s still an enforceable deal here. Remind the Lift 1A developers — all of them — hotels must be as attractive and beckoning for us as sketched, and the new lift should be the best thing to happen to Aspen since the original edition opened in 1947.
Then you can ride off and practice Making America Great Again. It was, after all, supposed to be the other end of a pledge.