Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Art of the Possible in an Improbable Age

Germany's 19th Century Iron Chancellor, Otto Von Bismarck, once observed politics is the art of the possible, and it was Tip O'Neill who said all politics is local. Put both of those thoughts together and we really should have swarms of registered voters every time we have an election for City Council or the Board of Education.

While a great deal of newspaper and television coverage of Politics with a capital "P" tends to fixate on the statehouse and Governor's Mansion or on Capital Hill and the White House, for most of us it really is those closest to home, our local elected officials, whom we see as having the greatest impact on our community and our quality of life. Yes, the President is the Commander in Chief but I'm not asking him about a cracked sidewalk at the house on the corner.

We're a little more than six months away from City Council and Board of Education elections. If you want it to feel (even) longer, let's call it half a year. Lots of time for incumbents to make (more) progress on those projects they took on as their terms began. And plenty of time for those who are contemplating a run at elected office to measure at least twice before cutting once.

I don't care how you vote so much as that you do. If you're registered to vote, make sure you do and if you're eligible to vote but aren't registered, make sure you do-click here for the Registrar of Voters or here's the Secretary of the State's Web Portal. Democracy is a contact sport and we cannot win if you do not play.
Let's face it, the current terms of office of members on both bodies have not been a walk in the park for anyone on them. Some say we should regard a problem as an opportunity to excel and in that context those currently in office have been spoiled for opportunities. So, too, have we even when on more than one occasion I've disagreed with decisions the neighbors who serve in elected office have made.

There's a temptation when you're not Teddy Roosevelt's Man in the Arena to speculate about how well someone else might do in a particular office. Hypothetical solutions always seem to lend themselves to much happier endings, whether those endings are real or not. I've often contended had my mother married a Kennedy, I might be living in the White House-but she didn't, so I'm not. See how much more attractive fictional lives can be?

But in the here and Norwich in which we live, between now and November look at where we are as a city and where you see us heading. Nothing is eaten as hot as it's served and nothing's so marvelous it cannot be improved. We can always use another great idea and the energy to implement it and no one in any party has a monopoly on either.

Many of us believe we're starting to rebuild our downtown and enhance our community's quality of life as well as our grand list. Many others are not so sure. There's room enough for both the hopeful and the skeptic. What we are now is what we were at the last election and the election before that. What we are to be is limited only by our willingness to find out. It's not how you start, it's how you finish and we're far from done.
-bill kenny

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