Thoughts on Democracy and Politics

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Attending the Citizen of the Year Gala was so much more fun than campaigning against Y and being bombarded by large expensive fliers with negative remarks about candidates for council and other positions of government in our county and state.

This event was a celebration of what is good about our city and special people who take on more than is required that have a lasting impact on our local environment.

The Chamber of Commerce honored Jack and Nancy Skinner for their years of service in cleaning up and preserving the water quality of the Newport Bay.

Their interest in this started thirty years ago when Jack noticed the bay water was brown and then went about conducting his own analysis of the water and finding that it had rising bacteria levels in both the bay and ocean.

To be among previous recipients of this award and others scattered around the room was uplifting, inspiring, and encouraging. We have so much to be to be grateful for and so much good work for all of us to do beyond our own busy lives.

It is time to move beyond the election and assess where we are going and what we will do with our precious resources: time, money, energy, and expertise.

Rather than expecting problems with the new and old council mixing, lets expect that they all will do their best to get along, learn from each other’s experiences and make good decisions for us residents.

It was disappointing that after the election the council made no comments on the results of the election nor acknowledged that citizens have demonstrated that they are unhappy with some major decisions in the community

A simple statement acknowledging that the people have spoken through their votes and that as a council we need to assess how well we are leading in the community and begin that process with the newly elected members would have shown to us that leadership changes are going to be embraced and provided much needed relief for the community and city leadership.

I had the privilege of attending the ninth annual lecture series of the McCarthey Family Foundation in November. The focus of this yearly community series is to continue to reinforce the importance of Independent Journalism.

The guest speaker was David Axelrod, Director, Institute of Politics, University of Chicago. He was also Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama. While I realize some of you will stop reading this piece as soon as the Obama name is mentioned, it is also part of the reason I am writing this today.

We are a city that is changing demographically in age, political affiliation, and cultural makeup. Democracy is about the freedom to have a voice without recrimination. The Council seats are non-partisan, but your political designation has a lot to do with who gets elected and who chooses to run.

Partisan politics is what is keeping our nation from progressing. Endorsements for candidates by Republican groups such as the Lincoln Club, Orange County Republican Party and others drive votes often without a thought to a person’s character, training, and leadership experience. This can be said also for Democratic groups.

We need to move toward selecting and promoting candidates from a perspective beyond party affiliation. Vote for people you believe will best represent your city and the direction you want to see it go for now and into the future. Who are the next generation of people that have a vision like the Skinners, Jean Watt, and many others who will be shepherds of the bay, parks, clean water, traffic and roads?

The media is a major culprit and contributor to one sided politics and information. People can watch all day long one point of view through shows developed from that ideological base. It drives all of us further apart when we do not hear different points of views and get correct information from which to draw conclusions and formulate our own perspectives for good decisions.

We should respect the office people hold and exhibit civility in our behaviors toward leaders. Those leaders in return also need to be respectful to citizens they represent. The focus must shift to solutions, not diverseness.

I am thankful this year for privilege to write for the Indy, be a part of a community that does so many good things for its citizens, and to be able to look toward a future in local government that demonstrates that they will work with each other and for our community.

The question I would ask all of you to think about this Thanksgiving is what does that flag I am flying in front of my house, wearing on my lapel, and my boat really represent? How good a citizen am I? Are my neighbors afraid to tell me they are Independents, Democrats, or Republicans?

Democratic values are for all the people. Let us be a community for all the people.

Happy Thanksgiving.


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