Town board meetings are free theater. At times frustrating. At times challenging. At times confusing. Always rewarding for those who choose to participate, but never more so than at a recent meeting …
Town board meetings are free theater. At times frustrating. At times challenging. At times confusing. Always rewarding for those who choose to participate, but never more so than at a recent meeting attended by about 20 of Tusten’s youngest citizens.
Politics resolve one way or another. It could be argued that what’s being talked about won’t endure as long as the aftermath of how it’s talked about. That’s for history to decide, in the unusual event that history decides to weigh in on local politics.
This group of kids, many of whom took advantage of their First Amendment rights, briefly reminded me of my own childhood. Cue sentimental music.
I grew up in the state capitol of Madison, WI. My mom was a passionate, ethical and thoughtful advocate for the rights of challenged students and adults. Very often she would drag me away from the television to a meeting or even a demonstration. It was often torture standing there holding a heavy sign while the adults debated things beyond my comprehension. The first time my picture was in the paper I was carrying a picket sign.
There were times I was able to understand the discourse. I had the chance to hear things I would otherwise not know. Form my own opinions, which then started to inevitably divert from my mother’s. We challenged each other. We discussed. With respect. Unlikely to change each other’s minds. Knowing that because we loved each other, it was safe. We could survive having different opinions. That was 50 years ago. I’m still waiting to meet the person with whom I agree all the time.
Once I actually met one of the politicians. Our local alderman, Mr. Disch. I remember asking him what an alderman did. His eyes got wide, and he smiled.
“I have the best job in the world. I get to make good things happen for our city.”
Optimist. Politics isn’t always about the best possible outcome. It’s about what Hillary Clinton called “the art of compromise.” A lost art, it feels on most days.
Mr. Disch came to mind at our last town board meeting during public comment. Several of the kids, obviously nervous, spoke in front of the crowd. Some for the first time. You could feel the room’s energy shift. There was a moment of unity, which is rare when a group of grown-ups get together.
We were all proud of our kids.
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