Rules of Engagement Anyone? Everyone?
It is said in a knife fight one opponent goes to the hospital and the other goes to the morgue.
Fortunately civic politics isn’t a knife fight or at least it shouldn’t be. In a community like Charlestown we know many of our fellow citizens and encounter one another frequently. Most of us share the temperament or the philosophy to accept differences and the reality that everything isn’t always going to go our way. A wise strategy then might be to comport ourselves with generosity in personal victory and humbleness in personal defeat.
Rightly does Mrs. Collette, Chairperson of Town Democrats, recall that the town has been in turmoil in recent years. If she is truly tired of this perhaps she is willing to negotiate an agreement with the candidates of other parties. A civil Rules of Engagement pact could conceivably be welcomed not only by the community but by the candidates themselves. What would be more conducive to constructive engagement? And how better to model – especially to our youth – that people can disagree without being disagreeable. This of course would extend to political allies and allow no (wink, wink) surrogates. I think anyone familiar with the town takes my meaning.
While there are different political and social points of view among the candidates, I suspect that the final result in decisions for the town would not be remarkably different in a transparent atmosphere no matter who ascends to office. I use the aspirational term ascend intentionally and suggestively. Civic office does ask more of people than they might do in private space. Perhaps this is heretical. We live in a period of polarization where drawing sharp distinctions to force choice is an orthodoxy hard to challenge. This is not to water down thought but to temper the animal spirits within all of us sentient creatures. For the most part, this is a field of residents who run because they care for their community. Nothing could more honor this field than agreed upon rules of engagement created and complied with by all. And nothing could be better practice for governing after the election.