I was recently asked to serve on a committee to update the Nevada County general plan. A group of citizens and local government officials met over several months to discuss planning practices and land use issues that relate to agriculture and then recommend changes.
At first I was worried my views would not be welcome, which, as a property owner, a small businessmen and a farmer were pretty well solidified. I was also worried that I would be drawn into the angst of politics over NH 2020.
What transpired was more than I expected. This process of democracy started with a commitment to stick it out and examine the issues at hand and try to reach a consensus of what should be done. What followed was an opportunity to present my views, listen to others, research the actual facts and present our work to other committees and finally, the BOS, where our recommendations were adopted – five to zero.
There is a big difference between politics and democracy. Where politics left me feeling empty and work me up at 3 a.m., angry; democracy left me feeling satisfied and believing in humanity.
To experience democracy you must participate in it. In the months to come, there will be plenty of opportunities to participate and help plan for a sustainable future for our wonderful county. Take the time to get involved, commit and educate yourself in all sides of an issue, then ignorance and closed-mindedness will fade away together. This is democratic patriotism. It is not easy, but you will be rewarded with the peace of mind that you get from seeing your views become a part of a larger plan.
Politics, on the other hand, is the antithesis of consensus, success only requires a victory of one point of view over another, in this way many of us are always left out. Whereas democracy requires a commitment of one’s time to consensus building, political patriotism only requires a symbolic commitment, you need only to preach about democracy, get a larger sign, a catchier slogan, or, as wannabe supervisor Robin Sutherland suggested: simply upgrade your flag.
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