Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tricking & Treating: Reflections on Elections

Brrrr!, It's that time of year again.
When all the young ghosts and goblins emerge out of the dark to offer a choice you can't refuse.
Except by going out or away, or maybe turning off all the lights and hoping no one knows you're at home.

Think I'm talking about Halloween?
It could be the elections, too.

But, let's say it is Halloween.
And the weather's turned much cooler, even cold and damp.
Mostly clouds above, hiding most evidence of the big harvest moon.
Maybe even a little swirling mist to further cloak the dampened sounds.

Not many people about except little bands of costumed kids, closely chaperoned by parents quietly standing in the dark, or in idling cars.
No one seems to want anyone to know who they are or what they look like.
But they all want something from you, and the more the better.
If they don't get something tasty, there could be a little mischief!

When the night is done, the spoils are counted.
And some sugar 'highs' are inevitable.
In the morning, candy prices will be slashed.
But, its always more fun to get such treats for free.

Then its over.
And what will be remembered?
That Bobby got more treats than Susie?
That Billy got a tummy ache?
That little Janie caught the sniffles?
Why do we do this every year, and call it fun?

Maybe that's a question mostly asked by adults, without little kids in their lives?
I know as a kid, I always thought Halloween was fun!
A special kind of event, that was mostly for us kids, or so it seemed.
It wasn't like Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Those were family events with lots of food and singing and gathering.
But, they were serious celebrations of something beyond the fun.

Elections ought to be more that way, too, don't you think?
They certainly aren't fun!
And, they do tend to have serious consequences.
But some do use them as times for tricking & treating too, have you noticed?

The difference in being tricked and being treated is usually pretty obvious.
Most people would much rather be treated than tricked.
But, perceived treats do sometimes turn out to be tricks!
And, rarely do tricks turn out to be treats, except for those who enjoy the trickery.

I would rather expect treats than tricks from my elected officials.
Habits of treating people and issues fairly, openly and with respect are distinct treats.
While habits of obfuscation, partiality to cliques and secret agendas are more like tricks.

We get to decide whether 'tricks or treats' will characterize our local government.
And, unlike Halloween, election results will have to last four years, not one!
Maybe we should let the kids vote for us adults?
And give them a little treat when they do?
After all, elections are about kids anyway, even though we adults think they are about us.
That kind of election might be way more fun too!

Just think, in four years time the waterfront clean-up will be well underway, and plans for redevelopment becoming something more than plans.
That ought to benefit our kids, and their kids in the future.

And by then, maybe the folks who live around Lake Whatcom will have learned from their kids how to take better care of our drinking water?

Also, kids might feel safer walking and biking to school and to parks because of better sidewalks and street crossings

Both adults and kids will enjoy the new parks & trails that provide such good family recreation opportunities.

And, maybe by then a new Public Library will be opening, very close to the Childrens' Museum.

Neighborhoods may be more kid-friendly too, with Block Watches, picnics and neighborhood sized playgrounds available.

By then better growth management ideas may have created some great new living areas that aren't so auto-dependent.
Some of these might be right downtown, or close to stores and services, with bus service every 15 minutes!

Wouldn't all this stuff help kids live a better life?

You know, when you get right down to it, kids are a lot more fun than adults!

And, the future is really about them.

Why not let them vote for us?

Or at least let them put our ballots in the box!
That way, we'll be reminded of why we vote at all.
Somehow, we've got to figure out how to make elections more fun, so more people will vote!
Maybe we can learn from Halloween?

Just a thought.