“Politics is Perception” The American President
Of its many definitions, philosophy for me is the art of gentlemanly disputation. In a room full of philosophers, no one agrees with anyone else. If you do you, you are considered a lightweight, LOL. For me debate, done with respect, is helpful in getting to know what people are thinking, to learn from each other. It is a way to address constructively differences that need to be ironed out rather than letting animosity seethe below the surface where it can simmer into pot shots or boil over into all out war. Wars breed casualties. Of the numerous posts that discussed the basics of American politics this week on the “Post Mortem” thread, the one thing that was missing was the awareness of the traditionally accepted role of debate and public scrutiny in politics. For those on the political circuit, debate is either a boon or bane. Among the challenges made to me, my freedom of speech comes to mind as something that ought to be respected.
The political philosopher in me believes that public scrutiny and debate are essential to our national political success. Elected officials are subject to scrutiny and debate. Governing councils and elections are appropriate and traditional subject matter for discussions in public forums. Hence, on this forum, no one has been hit below the belt by a commentary on the political scene in the Boro. Believe me though when I say I am a little surprised at the responses to the commentary. I thought there might be a few comments here and there. Instead, some responses were long and thoughtful. People have put in effort here that I respect. This effort speaks to something I said earlier. In such a tiny Boro we are a little different than the national scene. In such a tiny geographic location over the years, we grow together to be like a loose knit family. We are a little less thick skinned. Not a bad thing at all, I think. Thin skins keep us sensitive. What we do to each other is personal. We need to realize this. It was personal for those who posted on the comment section. Hence the lengthy posts, mostly from Democrats who felt personally wounded by my remarks, defending their rights. I can understand their feelings. It was personal for the Republicans who addressed specific complaints these Democrats made after the 2006 election. To see these Democrat colleagues actively campaign to remove them from council and then be expected to feel nothing about those actions is really a lot to ask. To me it seems that by campaigning actively against their Republican counterparts with some of whom they had no particular ax to grind, these few Democratic council members were telling these Republicans--- we do not want you at the banquet table with us any longer. As we sit together, we are working to have you removed. It was humiliating. To those who are continuously accusing me of sour grapes, I recall weeks of lamenting by Democrats after the 2006 election. I had written one, solitary post on the subject. Will the Democrats be as responsive to complaints made after this election, as their Republican counterparts were to theirs in 2006? The Republican did not dismiss their complaints as sour grapes.
Regarding 2007, kudos to both parties! Democrats and Republicans have a right to be very proud of what they accomplished last year under the spirit of mutual cooperation. The 2007 council saw efforts by both parties to end partisan politics. Such a feat cannot be accomplished unilaterally. As Spock would say--- that is not logical.
“Politics is perception”. My perception of what came down in the last election is that it was a power play against this peaceful council. This perception is based on the way candidates were fielded. I believe some were recruited. The more candidates the Democrats fielded, the more the vote is spread. This wider vote spread increases the likelihood of unseating the opposition. All that was necessary to immobilize the Republicans on Boro council and for uncontested power then to fall into the hands of the Democrats is for the Republicans to lose just one seat. I am talking here about a basic, objective, mathematical analysis. If this is not vintage partisan politics, tell me precisely what it is. These are reasonable conclusions to draw from my perceptions. To those tempted to say my assessment has to do with my husband’s role in the election, I suggest that many would draw the same conclusions given the same perceptions. I hope people will judge the validity of my viewpoints by their merits and not dismiss them outright because of my name.
Councilman Legato used a very apropos word in his post, “disappointment”. He is disappointed in the views I expressed. Others are disappointed in actions he took. There is disappointment enough to go around from both perspectives. Disappointment notwithstanding, everything done here by either side is legitimate according to the ground rules of American elections and politics. Being legitimate does not prevent disappointment or critiquing. A lesson we can all take from the table.
Choice is the keystone of American politics and choice is the key to the success of our political system or its failures. As far as I am concerned, most of us made a poor choice in the last presidential election. We are responsible for re-electing a president who we knew did not honor the Constitution and the Geneva Convention, as he should. We are responsible for the loss of the American moral high road in the eyes of the world as a result of our votes. I do not know what could be more devastating and perhaps threatening to our national security. This downfall was all accomplished by a legitimate American election. Legitimacy does not guarantee wisdom. Did we Americans make wise choices then? Here in little Flemington we too are responsible for how our Boro runs. We are responsible for our choices and what these choices set in motion. Nothing done in the last election was less than legit but other choices were on the table.
On a more personal note: Analyzing a local election is par for the course if you are blogging on the Boro at large. I wrote this follow up to address more fully posts that people evidently took a fair amount of time to compose. Here, I have tried to bring some cohesion to the discussion as well. I am a “peace on earth” sort of person. I do not want to set up a battlefield for reasons I have already discussed. I speak for myself here but there are others who certainly share my views. Not everyone posts comments. Quite candidly, I am surprised that the Democrats were not already aware of just about anything I had said. They have feelings that they freely and publicly expressed after 2006. Republicans have feelings. A great deal of election behavior is transparent. But in the grand scheme of things I can see no overall harm by placing some cards on the table. To me in politics it see always more dangerous when we operate secretly. Democrat Councilman Legato has advised on his post that non partisanship will continue on the new council. I am glad to hear it.