Guest Columnist Jerry Mandel: One big step closer to ‘Lord of the Flies’

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Published: 6/30/2021 9:04:49 PM

My husband and I have lived in Northampton for 15 years now after having lived on the Cape for 30. People usually go in the other direction. My two daughters from my earlier marriage went to UMass so we frequently visited the valley to stay close. And we fell in love with Northampton. How could we not? It’s vibrant, quirky, accepting (if not embracing), and sitting at the edge of arguably the most picturesque part of the state with so much to offer. I needn’t preach to the choir here.

But something is brewing in Noho that has hit me like I’ve run into a brick wall. And I’m not talking about the coffee at The Roost. Perhaps it’s a whiplash reaction to the Trump regime, spurred on by the George Floyd tragedy and the BLM movement, the sudden rise in gun violence, and maybe a need for rapid change we feel is necessary to finally break free of the COVID year(s). Whatever the reason the city has blatantly and righteously taken a sharp turn to the extreme left that leaves me wondering who’s in charge.

I was very interested to see Marc Warner’s comment in the interview on the front page of the June 23 Gazette. Regarding defunding the police he warned against “unthinking adherence to progressive values at the expense of good sense and governance.” I couldn’t agree more. Where has the common sense and understanding of reality gone? Has this town been smoking too much of its own weed?

What brings me to this point and pushed me to write this letter is the next decision the sage old masters running the city are on the verge of pushing through. The latest, which I know has been in discussion for a while now, is the proposed petition to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in municipal elections. It now seems we are one big step closer to Lord of the Flies. And you didn’t think The Donald could be elected president either, did you?

Before the ICBM’s are fired, understand I have the deepest respect for our youth today. They are much more in tuned with what’s going on in the world, better educated, more mature for their age, and, yes, with more life experience than those from my generation. But experience is the key. Without it you cannot make truly informed decisions. Especially nowadays with the overwhelming barrage of conflicting information clouding/obliterating the issues. How does a 16- or 17-year-old, still in high school, never mind middle-aged adults, filter that out? And how do they understand the consequences of their actions and decisions without seeing or inferring it from life experience? Do you really want a 16-year-old who doesn’t understand the value of money, has never had a checking account, determine your property taxes through representation they have chosen?

And if anyone thinks for an instant that their influence in an election will be minor then think again. This is the group that is most attached to and most influenced by social media and will vote as a block. No different, except by maybe ideology, than the Republican Senate. Is that going to take this city where it needs to go? Where is the common sense in this proposal?

I can’t wait to read the blowback from this letter. I might as well pack up and leave town now. Probably a good time to sell anyway.

Jerry Mandel is a resident of Leeds.


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