The Art of Politics
Part of my interest in blogging was to offer an inside view of the great American experiment called democracy as it’s played out here in Kent. Politics is hard work and setting aside your political differences for a minute you should thank your Mayor and Council members for what they do for there but by the grace of God could go you instead. Winston Churchill was right when he declared: “American democracy is a horrible form of government, that also happens to be the best there is.”
I am pleased to report that democracy is alive and well in Kent. Opinions abound and first amendment rights are exercised daily. Kentians express themselves very well. And believe it or not, that’s a good thing because I’ve worked in some places (particularly the south) where differences aren’t spoken of directly. Instead they tend to come at you from the backside and catch you when you least expect it. So I am grateful to be working north of the mason dixie line where like it or not, you don’t have to guess how people feel about you and your ideas.
As City Manager, a lot of my job is about taking public input and framing differences in a way that helps us move forward as a city. If I have to guess what you really mean I can be spinning my wheels for no good purpose and that’s why I’m so happy to be back up north. If you need more insight into what I mean, read through the following speech from a southern gentleman politician debating the legality of libations.
“Whiskey Speech” by Noah S. “Soggy” Sweat Jr. delivered on April 4, 1952 in the great state of Mississippi.
“I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey.”
“If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.”
“If when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman’s step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.”
“This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.”
Now that’s the art of politics.