When it seems that members of our society are actually living in different dimensions, the world seems chaotic, but if we dig into the differences, we’ll often find them clarified. I’ve been coming to a more-broadly-applicable point of clarity in the campaign for a charter review commission:
Here’s my “vision”: Local government’s role isn’t to plan what everybody can and must do with their property. The diversity of neighborhoods that I love in Tiverton and Rhode Island didn’t happen because people sat around on committees and decided to put this here and that there. It happened because people made the best decisions for themselves with their own property.
Where there are stores, they grew because customers wanted what was being sold. Where there are activities, they persist because people want to do them. Of course I’d love to see more or less of certain things in town, but my preferences shouldn’t be the law.
As the “Declaration of Independence” puts it, “Governments are Instituted” to “secure” our rights to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Town government provides guidelines and maintains boundaries so we can work out our differences like neighbors.
Twelve candidates for the Charter Review Commission, including the nine endorsed by the TTA, share this understanding and will review the Charter accordingly.
The other 12 think the role of government is to plan our future. A handful of people on various boards and committees decide what Tiverton should look like and go about making sure that their vision is the one that wins. To them, the Charter’s primary function is to give the boards and committees power over us and to make sure that we can’t easily disrupt their plans.
Do we want a rule book that protects us individually and helps us to resolve our differences with our neighbors, or do we want a contract that locks in somebody else’s vision? That seems to be the basic question at which political differences arrive, recently, if we strive to break them down enough.