west@bennettforoffice.org 715-619-4811 741 S. Liberty St. Fall Creek, WI 54742
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Tribalism and Cooperation

Well, there it is, officially in black and white at http://myvote.wi.gov. I’m on the ballot for both the Village Board and the School Board:

I am happy to see all of the candidates for the Village Trustee position. I’m sure that any three of them would make worthy Trustees to help steer the course of the village. Vote your heart, I know I will.

I am however, surprised and slightly disappointed that the School Board listing was for only one position, and that there’s only myself and Mr. Wright running. Surprised, because I didn’t pay enough attention to the bylaws of the school district that states that every third year only one position on the board would be open rather than the typical two. Disappointed because only the incumbent and myself chose to list ourselves on the ballot.

I, for one, would have been happier to see a half dozen people interested in and vying for the position of School Board member. Because… aren’t our children worth it? I admit that this is the first year that I threw my hat in the ring. Previous years, I didn’t feel like I was yet in a good enough place in my life to perform or commit to such duties. So perhaps most of the rest of the eligible persons in the community are in the same place that I was in years prior.

But still, out of almost a thousand eligible persons, only myself and the incumbent Mr. Wright were interested in helping to shape the direction of our School District? That’s quite concerning to me.

In the future, I hope and I plead with all eligible residents of Fall Creek, please consider putting your name down for future elections. We need to hear all kinds of different voices, ESPECIALLY the voices of those that haven’t been in public service before. We need good, fresh ideas, and different perspectives.

Why am I so adamant about this? Why do I **WANT** to have more “competition” for the positions that I’m running for? Shouldn’t I want to be able to run with as little competition as possible to increase my chances of “winning”?

I believe that to have a thriving democracy, we have to have active participation by as many eligible and interested citizens as possible. I believe that NO position should ever be on the ballot “unopposed”. I also believe that having only two people on the ballot leads to tribalism, which can only result in a worse outcome for everyone.

That word… tribalism… why do I keep bringing it up? Why is it prominently displayed on my main page, and in the title of this post? Because it is the not-so-secret poison that’s harming our entire society and draining it of all positive cooperation. By setting up elections as a “horse race” between two people, you end up creating two “groups”… Group A, and Group B. And that begins the “fight” of “us vs. them”, or “me vs. you”. And all people are expected to pick and align themselves with one “side” or the other. This leads to not only competition, but competition’s ugly cousins… Rivalry and Belligerence.

I don’t want to “fight” with anyone, and I refuse to. We ALL care about our community, and every single person has had valid and valuable experiences in their lives that can contribute to good governmental decisions. By splitting ourselves into separate groups, we are starting from a place of OPPOSITION towards each other, rather than cooperation WITH each other. And the productive conversations necessary for successful compromises can’t form when each of these “sides” are at each other’s throats. We’ve seen this for decades at the national level, and it needs to stop somewhere.

I’m stopping it here at our local level, at least as far as I have the ability to. Which means, such rhetoric won’t be coming from me, period. I will say nothing negative about Mr. Brock Wright, who is also running for the same position of School Board member. That is neither beneficial, nor desired, and will NOT contribute to our community. It could only harm it. Thus, I will not perpetuate such things.

Not that I expect that Mr. Wright would perpetuate such rhetoric, let me make that clear as well. Just that with only two persons in the race, it’s EXTREMELY easy for us to get into the mindset of “A vs. B”. I implore you, let’s not do that. Each person must simply make their own choice over the best possible person for the position. How they make that choice, is entirely their prerogative.

And again, I implore all eligible persons to look at themselves, and at their lives, and give a second or third thought to running in the next election cycle. I’d like to see that next ballot filled with at least more than two interested candidates for each position!

When we all have an interest in the future of our community, and a desire for its success, then we all win, together. So every extra name that pops up on those ballots shows that a community is filled with more people that are actively engaged in and care about the future of it.

And that is a win for us all.

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1 thought on “Tribalism and Cooperation”

  1. Vern Ming says:

    Like your view on compromise. Thanks for caring

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