The grassroots political party envisioned by John Brackney and Brian Vogt is edging toward becoming more visible.
“I’m ready for something to happen,” said Andrew Graham, a member of Littleton’s planning board. “I’m ready to pick an issue, I’m ready to pick a person, I’m ready to pick a fight.”
Longtime friends and cohorts, Brackney succeeded Vogt as the president of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, where he remains today. Vogt went on to head up Denver Botanic Gardens. But they stress that this group, Common Sense Citizens, is not a chamber effort, but was born of their personal frustration with the debilitating effects of today’s extreme polarization in politics. Joining them as organizers are Graham, John Vachalek and Patrick Pratt.
“Instead of sending problem-solvers and negotiators to Washington, we often send adherents and pledge-signers, people who refuse to compromise for fear that they will lose the support they need to keep a job that has become less respected and less impactful,” they write on their Meetup page. “It is no wonder we are in a mess, one which will grind the genius of America into mediocrity.”
Written in January, that comment portends the federal government shutdown, a hot topic during the group’s Oct. 12 meeting at the Littleton Center. Members were unified in their dismay, using words like shameful, repulsive and tired.
“I think it illustrates the problem we have with society as a whole,” said Paul Schauer, a former Republican state legislator. “You reach an impasse. It’s a matter of how do we get to the greatest good for the greater number. I have the same problem with the far right as I have with the far left. They want control of your life on their terms.”
Graham agreed, saying Washington needs more independent thinkers.
“I think that person would be the most powerful person in Washington, if his vote was beholden to no one except his own conscience,” he said.
Brackney said Common Sense needs to start gearing up for the 2014 elections now, identifying core values and pushing them out to the public via e-books, TED videos or whatever medium they decide works best.
Subcommittees are working on establishing a common voice for the group, which now includes 98 members on its Meetup page. They span personal, professional and political spectrums: young, old and in between; Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliateds; attorneys, students, entrepreneurs and politicians. Common bonds include dissatisfaction with a broken system, a desire to bridge gaps, concern about the economy and valuing a grassroots, local approach.
“People have to say, ‘You know what, you can trust those guys,’ when we get out and start taking action,” said Pat Perlinger.