To the Editor:
In a speech on November 11, 1947, Winston Churchill observed: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried.”
A deliberative democracy in political theory claims that political decisions should be the product of fair and reasonable discussion and debate among citizens.
New England’s form of Open Town Government dates back to the early 1600’s. The purpose of the open public forum is specifically to promote deliberation, dialog, debate, discussion, and yes dissent. It is a messy, but essential step in the process of arriving at a consensus. The final outcome of the endeavor is to build a solid base of information, prioritize key values, identify a broad range of solutions, weigh in on both the pros and cons of an issue, and ultimately make the best decision possible for the community.
A vibrant deliberation on public policy is the bedrock of our democracy. Most public officials embrace the concept, as they tediously strive to meet their obligations on open meeting laws and the requirement to record minutes for the public. If we err on the side of collective silence, political correctness, group-think, and non-participation in governance, we will not only lose our democracy, but our freedom along with it.
If the Board of Selectmen in the Town of New Marlborough, hosts an Open Public Hearing on March 12th in compliance with Massachusetts General Laws it is not only for the benefit of the citizens, but more importantly for the town board members as well. Public officials spend countless hours toiling away behind the scenes on behalf of the citizens. This is their opportunity to hear from the citizens they represent as it gives them clear guidance where the consensus lies on an important issue.
Our forefathers sacrificed blood and treasure so we could enjoy the benefits of a “free and open society”; perhaps, it is worth our effort to defend it as our legacy for the next generation.