A post from David Cook

TRIBALISM HAS NO PLACE IN GOOD GOVERNMENT

My name is Dave Cook. Jeff Clark and I are running for the Mendon Town Board and ask you for your vote. Neither of us has ever run for any kind of office before. Like many of you we are very concerned with the state of politics today. We long for a time when politics was less about winning and more about doing the public good. We see leaders that denigrate and demean, rather than engage in meaningful dialogue. It is indeed a sad state of affairs and creeps into our local politics as well. Jeff and I pledge that we will never let politics interfere with governing and will never stray from civility. We will work with other public servants regardless of party. We will call out public waste no matter the source.

The American experiment began with tribalism. Colonial Americans were a multiethnic, mix of peoples that identified more as Virginians or New Yorkers than as Americans. Nonetheless, they banded those tribes together to fight a revolution and gain independence. The Founding Fathers recognized the critical need to unify the colonies post revolution on something other than the common enemy of England. They feared that excessive partisan political loyalties could become tribal and destructive.

In 1780, John Adams wrote that the “greatest political evil” to be feared under a democratic constitution was the emergence of “two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other.” George Washington, in his farewell address, described the “spirit of party” as democracy’s “worst enemy.” It “agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.”

We must look at each other first as friends and fellow citizens. Lessons from the founders can guide us. They set aside the regional and political differences for the good of the whole. Can’t we do the same? Let’s stop referring to each other as right or left as Democrats or Republicans. Let’s see ourselves first as fellow citizens and neighbors. Despite its flaws, the Founders created the most inclusive form of governance in world history. We need to be reminded of those ideals.

A Town Board without balanced representation is by nature overtly partisan. As an old saying goes, “If we both think completely alike, one of us is unnecessary.” It is through exploring contraries in public policy that we achieve the best results. If these concepts and ideas resound with you, Jeff and I ask that you give us your trust to represent you. We promise you we will never violate that trust.

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