Submitted By Kelli Grim, Candidate for Town Council
Abraham Lincoln, once said that nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. Our sixteenth president was an ardent believer in that messy, creaking process we call democracy, both in its capacity to improve the human condition and also to improve the human. Selecting candidates, voting, abiding by the results, are an important part of the process, to be sure. Lincoln thought that the greatest virtue of democracy is that it calls all of us to be better human beings, or, at least, use the process we call democracy to move us farther along on that road. Sometimes, in the rough process of electioneering, amidst all the rhetoric, hoopla, and, yes, the lies and distortions, there is a goal often missed, an arrow that falls far short of its mark. Yet, it is a lofty goal, to both set public policy, even on a stage as small as Purcellville’s, to be a good steward of the people’s money, to set decent, responsible, and compassionate policy, and still to aim for something greater: to become a better human being and to instill in others a respect for the human condition and its vast God-given potential.
So much has passed since the time of Lincoln, some of it good, such as the end of slavery, and some of it bad, two world wars, for example. Someone else said that people get the government they deserve, a proposition I have never agreed with. Why good people do bad things or why good people tolerate people who do bad things is a question I will leave to theologians and residents of Purcellville.
One thing, however, is certain: Lincoln distrusted power, and what it could do to people. And, Lincoln himself had to exercise great power. Leadership is a great part of power, and we touch and influence many lives every single day. Leaders do not have the right to serve only those that agree with them. A good leader is always open to new ideas and never degrades anyone for their own. As a leader, one must respect everyone’s opinions, and embrace, as opposed to belittle, those involved and listening.
The problem in Purcellville is not only that the Town is immersed in debt, but, that its managers are engaged in a shell game with the Town’s finances. Not only are major decisions constantly made behind closed doors, its leaders are impervious to any view but their own, and find it acceptable to ignore citizens requests for explanations. How many lost lawsuits, for example, does it take to drive the point home to the Town’s leaders that you cannot sue your way out of bad decisions. The battle with the County has hurt us all. The battle with the Browns over the Southern Connector Road has diminished all of us as individuals, and as taxpayers. The Town’s childlike attempts to lay at a couple of individuals’ feet the blame for the road delays is erroneous and absurd, with bad consequences for us all.
It is time for a change in the way Purcellville deals with its problems and time for a change in the way Purcellville deals with its citizens, and it is time for a change in the way Purcellville sees itself and in the way it deals with its neighbors. Democracy is a messy, often terrible, often agonizing process, and not immune to outside pressure. That’s why the voting is secret. Because, it is only in a democracy, and in the privacy of the voting booth, where voters do not have to walk the line between pressure and intimidation. There, they can vote their consciences.