Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Excited yet?

I was recently talking with a few friends about local politics when the subject of engagement came up.  They said they certainly cared about what was happening around town, but that nothing made them "excited".  To summarize, "If you want me to engage and get my friends to engage, give me something to get excited about."

Now, if you've read this blog for any amount of time, you can imagine my response: "What do you mean you're not 'excited'?  What are you looking for?" (In varying tones of incredulity and offense).

I would respectfully suggest that no matter our different opinions, we've been discussing important policy.  Food policy and public health measures like the vaping ban seem to be where future political debates will be held.  Some of them at least.  But unless you are a pediatrician or avowed public health advocate, these issues aren't getting your heartbeat up.  Please don't read this to say these issues aren't important.  They are.  And, as I've said before, I am a strong advocate for what our Council is working to do.  I just think we need to accept the fact that we're not seeing the full actualization and involvement of passionate citizens and there may be a reason for that.

Unless you're debating the other side.  And it seems that this is where the excitement has been manufactured.  The reason local politics "seems" exciting is because it has become controversial.  I can assure you that I don't look forward to, or necessarily enjoy, writing adversarial posts.  I believe certain concerns merit attention and that advocacy is the only effective avenue for recourse.  Less formal (and less public) avenues of advocacy have been foreclosed, so, hence, the blog.

People will tire of the conflict and controversy.  Some already have.  Sustained attention and advocacy will require substance; those base nutrients that made us feel like local politics or politics in general were subjects worthy of our interest.  Even more remarkable are those issues that break outside the "Bubble" and touch the cognizance of "regular citizens".

What do these issues look like?  Right or left, I believe such matters are those that make life better. Our weights lighter.  Our stressors defanged.  And yes, I accept that there is a well-entrenched political philosophy stating that this is expressly not the role of government and that we should really just expect government to "get out of the way".  Fair enough, but even under that analysis, isn't the goal to "make life better"?

And so long as I am acknowledging your philosophy, you should understand mine - I think there are elements of our society that operate like a maw.  They tear and crush the weak and unprepared.  The only thing that has ever stood in between us and that maw has been the conscience of an enlightened democracy.  For every long line at the MVA, I will point to life-changing measures in the Americans with Disabilities Act.  For every stereotypical bureaucrat, I will introduce you to a social worker guiding an orphan through foster care.  We can't legislate our societal ills away, but we can do a pretty good job of rounding off the edges.

If you're not excited yet, wait.  I think there are some good things coming down the pike for you.

Have a great Wednesday doing what you love!