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Noble: No mulligans in voting

Sports are an integral aspect of the American childhood, from schoolyard kickball to varsity football. Apart from the health benefits of physical fitness, sports impart lifelong lessons including teamwork, commitment and, especially, sportsmanship.

The handshake at the end of competitions as varied as baseball games, tennis matches and high school debates signals mutual respect. It concludes the competition with honor demonstrating winning and losing with grace, and is the physical manifestation of sportsmanship.

According to a survey by Liberty Mutual, 75% of parents and coaches agree, it is the parents’ role to teach good sportsmanship, but parents and coaches also report an erosion of sportsmanship in recent years. Could the toxic national atmosphere have something to do with that? Because nowhere is poor sportsmanship more blatantly exhibited than in politics. Sore losers used to be an object of ridicule, and they still should be. However, sore losing is now the default mentality of the right whenever the vote does not go their way. Their unsubstantiated claims of fraud, recall elections and calls for “do-overs” on ballot measures they did not understand is damaging our democracy.

In 2016, candidate Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College. She contacted the victor to concede and congratulate him. He ungraciously, and without an iota of proof, claimed that he would have won the popular vote if millions of illegals had not voted.

When that same man was ousted from the White House four years later, he did not concede, congratulate his opponent or attend the inauguration of the new president. Instead, he cast doubt on the integrity of the election, encouraged his minions to litigate the results and pressured election officials in Georgia to “find” 11,780 votes to swing the election his way. And in one of the most despicable acts in U.S. history, he sicced his supporters on Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.

Even more shameful, 147 Republicans in Congress went along with him and voted to overturn the election results of the 2020 presidential election.

In our county, the science-free, fundamentalist Christians who have harassed the school board and board of county commissioners for months with their tirades against masks and vaccines have found a new cause célèbre to glom onto — Ballot Issue 1A. They are joined by the chairwoman of the local Republican party.

Ballots were mailed out on Oct. 8. Almost a full month before the election. If the ballot language was so confusing, where were these objections before the election? Buddy Shipley, Richard Carnes and the Vail Daily editorial board, among others, all recommended a “no” vote in this newspaper.

The chairwoman of the Eagle County Republican party devoted an entire column to the ballot measure on Oct. 5, where she urged voters to vote “no” on the measure. Nowhere in her column does she take issue with the ballot language.

In her recent column, demanding a do-over, she rails against confusing and misleading language, and then goes on to use plenty of her own. Pot, meet kettle.

She insinuates that the current commissioners are attempting to make a career out of their positions as commissioner. I do not know if she can count, but 12 years is hardly the length of a career.

She unoriginally employs a tired cliché to insinuate that Commissioner Matt Scherr is lying when he insisted that the ballot language was not intended to mislead. Absent proof, her claim is dubious.

Commissioner Scherr is well known in Eagle County for his integrity, empathy and professionalism. Furthermore, each of the current commissioners, Kathy Chandler-Henry, Jeanne McQueeney and Scherr won re-election in landslide margins over their Republican rivals. Eagle County residents have repeatedly placed their trust in the commissioners for good reason — through fires, the pandemic, and daily operations they have demonstrated capable, competent leadership.

The legal age for voting in America is 18. By that age citizens should have the requisite maturity and education to fill out a ballot. The beauty of the Colorado system of mail-in balloting is that voters have time to carefully read ballot questions and consider candidates. This effort requires close reading, and perhaps some research. After all, it is not the Wendy’s menu.

Learning to win, and lose, with grace may begin on the sports field, but it takes on greater significance in the trials and tribulations of life. Politics is but one aspect of our lives, but it is the main scaffolding of our democracy. Accepting loss with grace is not only good sportsmanship, it is good democracy.

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