Once this election is over, no matter the outcome, we must come together as a nation, a state, and most importantly of all, in our local communities, where we live our everyday lives of going to work, raising our kids, attending school — and soon, shoveling snow. For despite the heated, often toxic rhetoric, we have so much more in common than that which divides us.
That's why when area hotelier Perry Sanders, founder of The Mining Exchange and co-owner of The Antlers, asked if the Indy and the Colorado Springs Business Journal would co-host a community-wide election watch party, I immediately replied "Brilliant!" After confirming with each paper's publisher, I reported back to Sanders: "We are all in."
In the past, every political party and many campaigns hosted separate election night events. Perry's idea: a community-wide election night gathering at his recently renovated Antlers hotel. The Donkeys, the Elephants, the Greens, the Libertarians and the largest group of all in this region, the Unaffiliateds, would each have their own ballrooms, but would have to mingle when seeking libations and refreshments.
But then I realized that Sanders' concept was just a pipe dream, because no way, no how would the local Democrats and Republicans agree to rub elbows together on election night. But I had underestimated his persuasive powers — after all, he's an attorney, too — for his offer of free food and free ballroom rental helped these adversaries agree to participate in this unity in our community celebration/commiseration. (There'll be a big screen set up outside in the plaza, as well as indoor screens, plus free appetizers in common areas. Access to expanded entertainment and food in the Democrats' ballroom will cost $35; see peakdems.org for more.)
As anyone who has traveled nationally or even internationally knows all too well, for far too long, Colorado Springs has been perceived as a divided, mean-spirited community. Inclusive and welcoming events showcasing our community in a positive light will go a long way toward redeeming a national reputation that has hurt both the perception of us and our economy.
That is why we support this amazing inaugural event, fittingly named for "America the Beautiful" since Katharine Lee Bates was staying at The Antlers hotel when she penned her poem in 1893.
Bates, along with her other Colorado College visiting summer-school professors — including future president Woodrow Wilson — celebrated their term's end with an expedition up America's mountain in a wooden wagon emblazoned with "Pikes Peak or Bust."
Bates' words still ring true today:
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!