Words matter: Summit Daily’s headline didn’t reflect my views

Debra Irvine

Words matter.  

We have all had an instance when words made a difference in our lives. Positively or negatively.

Recently, I sent in a letter to the editor. Sadly, it was printed with a title that did not reflect anything I had written or implied. The editor and I have discussed the matter, and there was no malicious intent by him.

In fact, it presents an opportunity to address bias and how powerful words and images can be. As a candidate for the state legislature, I experienced it all.

That was then, and such behavior is worse today.

In the last elections, I have witnessed an increase in rhetoric, vitriol and a lack of basic civility. From local races to national elections, attacks have become an embarrassment.  

Campaign ads can involve out-of-context statements, altered photographs to make an opponent appear sinister and downright lies. Instead of information to aid a voter in making a thoughtful decision, the objective is to shock and negatively influence.

As a candidate, I took pride in only attacking my opponent with facts. You know, that “gotcha” moment delivered with polite power.  

The norm has evolved into personal attacks peppered with disrespect. I watch candidates mentally and physically exhausted, not from knocking on those ever-important doors of voters, but from worry and frustration. Their loved ones are affected, as well as one’s respect in their communities.

No political party candidate is safe, and I take no sides in this issue. I believe it requires more intelligence to use facts than personal attacks. I can tell you to ignore the dark side of campaigning. but it’s hard to look away from a train wreck.

Voting is a privilege, one not to be taken lightly. May you take the time to carefully research candidates and issues to make an informed, thoughtful decision.  

After all, an election does come with consequences.

Debra Irvine is a professional artist, board member of Club 20 and member of the Colorado Women’s Alliance.

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