About the election
I spent the day yesterday working in the parking lot at a polling place, handing out literature in support of Mike Taylor and talking with voters as well as cops, firefighters, a union attorney, a union leader, a politician’s husband, and many other folks. I am always happy yet pleasantly surprised to be reminded that people with sometimes different political views still have the same goals in mind, just different approaches and ideas on how to get there. I think this is something that we as conservative-minded folk are afraid to do: learn that the “left” is just like “us” in many important regards.
I believe firmly that if you are an ideologue, a polemicist, or a self-styled “freedom fighter” you’re going to miss important things about the debate you so desperately want to frame on your own terms. You will acquire nothing by preaching to the choir. You will learn nothing by talking to people who “know” all the same things you do. You will achieve nothing towards changing peoples’ hearts and minds by being an angry, vitriolic, hateful person unwilling to respectfully engage people who think differently than you do. I have personally made all of these mistakes in the past. I have been that angry, divisive conservative, the guy who knew it all and was convinced that everyone on the other side was wrong. I didn’t feel like the people on the other side deserved my respect or merited my time to listen to their point of view. I learned this was wrong. Fortunately, I did not have to learn this the hard way.
As far as my own personal principles, there are many I will never compromise on. I maintain that the U.S. Constitution is, and should forever be, the law of this land, and that the freedoms expressed in the Bill of Rights are paramount. I believe in a small, open government that operates as efficiently as possible for the minimum amount of tax revenue it can survive on. I feel strongly that government should yield to private enterprise whenever and wherever possible, and that the most efficient use of capital can only be achieved through a judicious application of the profit motive. I think that laws, ordinances and regulations ought to be minimal, and that they are best applied at the local level instead of the state or federal levels. I remain frankly unconvinced that labor unions still serve the purpose in our society that they were originally intended to serve, and I feel the common man would be far better off in his employment without collective bargaining. I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the picture.
Despite that, I continue to learn and gain in my appreciation for the fact that human beings are not adequately described by labels such as “liberal” or “conservative”. “Ideological purity” is for ideologues and charlatans. I am always impressed by people with the courage to tell me “I’m a Democrat, and I definitely don’t agree with you on everything, but I read your blog and I have a hard time disagreeing with most of what you have to say.” The ability to recognize that people who are different from you are capable of intelligent thought and a reasoned perspective is something I will no doubt have to work to achieve for the rest of my life. It takes courage. It takes confidence in one’s own convictions. And it takes having the ability to see outside of oneself. I am humbled by the people who do this better than I.
As far as Election 2013 goes, I could hardly be more pleased with the results, even though it comes at a certain, personal expense in the form of higher taxes. Let me be clear: I hate taxes. I hate paying more for the same service I’ve always gotten. I believe that every additional dollar handed over to government goes with the risk of being abused, mis-spent or wasted, and I lament the loss of each one I’ve surrendered that I know has been wasted. I am still going to go ballistic over $86,000 playscapes. I’m going to continue to be skeptical of labor contracts with generous terms. But I am also going to give credit where credit is due: the city has tightened its belt tremendously. The men and women working for the city have gone through a terribly lean time in their employment, and have been forced to do their very important jobs with a decided lack of adequate resources. As an employee myself, they have every last scintilla of my sympathy. It was definitely time to turn things around. The millage needed to pass, and I for one am glad it did.
As for the candidates for City Council, well I am very pleased to see Mr. Taylor retain his position as Mayor Pro-Tem, even if it is largely symbolic. I am even more pleased to see Mr. Smith return to retirement as a private citizen. I will be very interested in seeing Mr. Skrzyniarz’s development as a new member of council. And as long as the other incumbents remain dedicated to moving the city forward and in a positive direction, I say ‘welcome back.’
In regards to Mayor Notte: you have to accord a certain amount of respect to a man who has so thoroughly dominated past races as to be able to run unopposed in an election with a millage issue. Although I have not agreed with him on a number of things in the past and have found some of the things he has done while presiding over the meetings to be questionable, I have also learned that at heart he is very devoted to this city, is willing to extend a hand across the proverbial aisle, and has proven to be a very astute politician. I wish him well in this term. I will be very interested in learning of his plans for the future — both the city’s and his own — and will try to chronicle them here as best I can.
I am rather disappointed by the low turn-out in this election. I think this is something that we as a city need to work together to change. Personally, I think a move to even-numbered-year elections is in order, and although it may be politically difficult to do so, the challenge can and must be overcome. As a blogger, pundit and observer — not a politician — an idea such as this would be difficult at best for me to pursue without the backing of the administration and the politicians, so I may be relegated to just advocating for it, but advocate for it I will. It is worthy of our consideration.
Finally, thank you for your readership. My blog’s page count numbers on election day nearly doubled the previous record set in 2011. I am gratified to know that my efforts are being seen, that my thoughts and research are proving relevant, and my little niche in local politics is that much more firmly established. As you know, I don’t financially benefit from this blog. I don’t know how I could, otherwise I would probably try to do so, being a confirmed capitalist and devotee of private enterprise. So my reward is counted in page views and referrals by readers to their friends, neighbors and associates, and I appreciate every single one. If you find the blog at least useful enough to not print it out and use it as a liner for your bird cage, please pass the website along. Thanks.