Newburyport Politics, Us versus Them

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard the phrase lately, “We don’t have to worry anymore. There’s more of us than there is of them.”

Oy veh. Don’t even go there. Don’t be so sure.

And, I can’t tell you how often over the years, I’ve heard that exact same phrase, and believe me, it wasn’t true then, and I’d give it a real good guess, that it probably might not be true now.

We are talking here about different “voting blocks” within the city. And the fact that we now have a “progressive” Newburyport City Council, as of January 2008.

Start asking for money, and you will see “them” rise up in force.

And if one takes a look at the numbers of the recent November 2007 election, they tell a tale.

Ed Cameron ran one heck of a clean, thoughtful, long, hard, slogging, “door to door” campaign. Plus he’s is an incredibly thoughtful and I believe, ethical and trustworthy human being. But that race was very close. By no means a “landslide.”

And I think a couple of candidates rode on his coattails, not visa versa. Both Jim Stiles and Kathleen Ives did remarkably well in a “conservative” ward (Ward 4).

Ward 5, a “conservative” ward, was won, against an incumbent, by a “conservative” candidate.

And Al Lavender, Mary Carrier, Bob Kelleher, William Deans (and I really don’t know whether or not to throw in Gary Roberts in here or not) split a large voting block. If you add all those numbers together, those are a whole lot of votes, enough for a couple of those candidates to have won.

Don’t forget the weather on voting day, November 2007. It stunk. If the choice would be between voting, or not getting pneumonia, my guess is, that the “health thing” could have won out.

And I’ve seen more damage over the years with the thought process of “there’s more of us than there is of them.”

It speaks of an adversarial approach to running our municipal government. An “us versus them” mentality. “Them” being the “enemy.” A possible “polarizing” approach.

“They” are still very much out there. “They” are also part of our community and part of our lives. And “their” concerns, very much need to be respected, if we as a community hope to get constructive and thoughtful things accomplished.

Is a “backlash” possible? In my book, you bet a backlash is hugely possible. It all depends on the attitude and how the more “progressive” candidates conduct themselves during the next 2 years.

If there is respect, maturity, consideration for different points of view, we could have had an excellent government, one worthy of reelection.

If there is even a subtle attitude of “excluding the enemy,” well then, my guess would be that election 2009 could be mighty interesting.

Mary Eaton