John M. Gerber: Inclined to vote for messiness of democracy

  • jacoblund

Tuesday, January 09, 2018
Inclined to vote for messiness of democracy

Thanks for the thoughtful review of the various perspectives on the charter vote presented in “Charter jockeying in full swing,” Jan. 6).

The three anti-charter groups — Not This Charter, Town Meeting Works, and Vote No on the Charter — seem to represent three different perspectives which all came to the same conclusion.

I applaud Joanna Neumann, chairwoman of Amherst For All for stating, “I’m not surprised there’s a lot of interest of various people from various perspectives.” This is how democracy should work.

On the other hand, I was disturbed by the quote attributed to Jerry Guidera which seemingly criticized the anti-charter voices for their inability to organize a more efficient anti-campaign. According to the report he said, “My take on it is they are so dysfunctional they can’t even coordinate an anti effort.” Of course, he may be right.

However there might be another way to view their efforts. Democracy is messy, slow and sometimes inefficient (like Town Meeting). Maybe this is the price we need to pay for public participation in our local government.

The Amherst for All efforts certainly appear more organized, efficient and professional than the anti efforts. Likewise, the more centralized decision-making authority and professionalism that would be created by a Town Council may offer us a more efficient form of government, perhaps at the expense of public participation.

I think I’m inclined to vote for the messiness, diversity of opinion and even the much-criticized inefficiency of direct democratic rule that is so unique to Town Meeting in New England.

John M. Gerber