When Bullying Is What We Can’t Do Individually
Soon-to-be-former Town Councilor Brian Medeiros (who isn’t running to maintain his seat) expresses a potentially alarming notion about governance:
Government is supposed to help us all do things we can’t do individually.
If he’s talking about communal defense against plausible military attack, then I’d agree. If he’s talking about making teachers into an unaccountable class with disproportionate earnings and benefits, then I disagree. The point is that humanity developed societies to accomplish its larger, more complicated goals, but government and society are not synonymous. Some communal tasks are best assigned to families, to businesses, to religions, to cultural institutions.
It’s particularly galling to hear a town councilor’s protestation that we should have “an honest, respectful debate about what kind of town we want to live in” mere months after the body of which he is a part subverted public confidence in our financial procedures in order to pass a budget that faced tangible opposition. It’s difficult to take seriously admonitions to work together as a community in order to avoid the loss of services when the local government maintains the character of the town — as they call it — by rezoning swaths of land to forbid commercial development and then leverages procedural technicalities to brush off applications submitted hastily to beat the zoning switch.
I kid you not that there’s a local political action committee (PAC) that calls itself the Alliance to Preserve Tiverton’s Quality. From my place in the working class quarters, that sounds like a group advocating on behalf of “quality” residents to ensure aesthetic lifeboats from our sinking economy. In that spirit, thwarting developers and squeezing ever more tax dollars out of residents is something that those pulling town levers couldn’t accomplish individually.