View from the Cheap Seats: One man

Our daughters are grown and married (both to Yankees, which would have made my Kentucky-born mother grab her confederate money and run for Atlanta bellowing, “Skawlette! The Yankees is comin'!”).

I’m kidding of course, although Mom wasn’t. They’re both nice young men and, more importantly to old dad, they both love my little girls and protect them. But I remember a time when I was the only man protecting them, when my girls were high school age, facing all the temptations that tender age brings (alcohol, drugs and the like) and the urge to follow the crowd and “do what everybody does.”

We had long, serious talks about it, the girls and the wife and me. We made it clear to them that, once you establish yourself as somebody who doesn’t go along just because it’s the “thing to do,” saying no to peer pressure becomes much easier. You can go your own way and your classmates don’t even try to change your mind. But cave in once, and you’re sunk. Everybody will know you can be talked into anything. And they’re probably right, too.

It’s not much different when you’re an adult. I was talking to a member of our City Council recently about an upcoming vote. I asked him if he thought the so-and-so measure should pass. He said that no, he didn’t want it to pass. “So,” I said, “you’re going to vote against it?”

He said he wasn’t – that he was going to vote for it. I was understandably perplexed and asked him to explain. “My vote isn’t going to change the outcome, and if I vote against it, I’ll make enemies in the bargain, so there’s no point. I’m voting yes,” he said. 

So I asked him a question: “What if two other councilmen came to you, said they were going to vote against this issue and asked you to join them – would you vote no then?” He said he’d probably join them in opposing the measure, so I suggested he take a leadership role and get others to join HIM and really make a difference. He didn’t seem to know what I was talking about, and right about then I thought my brain might explode. You see, he’s not willing to stand up for his opinion all by himself, but surround him with others of like mind and he suddenly grows a spine.

It takes courage to stand your ground all by yourself, to be the only one to vote your conscience even if your vote doesn’t change the outcome of the situation – to be the voice crying in the wilderness  And, to this point, nobody on council has understood that.

This same councilman pointed out that if he votes against the administration, he’ll get a bad committee assignment. So what? If he goes along now, he’ll have to go along forever, so what’s the point of a good committee assignment when he’s sold his political soul for that assignment? So I’d encourage all of our councilmen to vote their conscience.   

This past week the political landscape in Washington was changed with the election of one new senator from Massachusetts. Since then we’ve heard a number of Democrats revealing they never really were enamored of the Obama health care plan, and they’re rethinking their support. The entire Democratic plan for the takeover of our health care industry appears to have been derailed.

One man can make a difference, but to do so, that one man must speak his mind; he must be willing to vote his conscience even when everyone else opposes. If one man’s election can change the Washington world, imagine what one man of principle can do in little Bay Village.

Alex Dade and Karen Hansen Dade live in Bay Village.

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Volume 2, Issue 2, Posted 7:05 PM, 01.22.2010