It’s the day after the big vote here in Whatcom County, where many of us are breathing a sigh of relief that the 4 candidates for County Council most likely to Not support a coal export terminal, most likely to get our County back into compliance with state laws on growth management, and most likely to reverse a new policy on slaughterhouses…have apparently won.
However, I was not entirely pleased with some of the negative campaigning that occurred in the last couple of weeks from both sides. I’m also not entirely pleased that these supposedly non-partisan races have become so clearly partisan, and it appears that voters tended to either vote for all of the Democrat endorsed candidates or all of the Republican endorsed candidates.
I hope we can move past the negative and divisive campaign season, and work together for the benefit of all. It is important to remember that elected candidates are expected to work for all of their constituents, not just the ones who voted for them. If not, we could see a dramatic swing back the other way in the next election cycle.
It is in this spirit that I recommend the following article by David King, and posted at Tom Atlee’s blog, Random Communications from the Evolutionary Edge.
One of the realities that bedevils voting is that, in an adversarial and two-party system, partisan messages and media comments suggest very limited (bi-polar) choices. People who see nuances, or prefer collaboration, or are seeking a ‘third way’, or reject confrontation are actively discouraged from voting. In an adversarial and two-party system, the only (apparently) valid reasons for voting are: (1) to elect the good guy; or, (2) to make sure the bad guy doesn’t win. Anything else is described as a wasted vote or worse, an undermining of the ‘strategic’ (blocking) vote.
In terms of citizen engagement, we have a problem in that the sense of “the public” is very weak and is being undermined, constantly. The public is not merely an aggregation of individuals, nor is it a temporary or specific or instrumental phenomenon, nor is it detached from its surroundings, nor is it a contractual relationship. The public is greater than the sum of its parts. Something transcendent transforms an aggregation of individuals into “the public” in a time and place. The public is enduring, organic, and embedded in its ecology. The public is relational: it is covenantal (for better or for worse, through sickness and in health, until death do us part).
I would argue that both politicians and conventional media have reasons for wanting to dissolve “the public” and replace it with “public opinion”, which is temporary, specific and instrumental, and detached from its surroundings…