To the people of Saugerties, please accept my heartfelt appreciation for re-electing me as your town justice. The fact that I received the confidence and support of fellow townspeople from all political parties is an honor I will not forget.
It is my firm belief and practice that there is absolutely no room for politics in our justice courts. I will continue to serve the citizens of the town of Saugerties with honesty and fairness. Once again, thank you.
SECRET MONEY SKEWED ELECTION
A key factor in Tuesday’s elections was the amount of money spent by special interest groups, most of them funded by secretive, corporate and wealthy individuals, due to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. According to a report by the Public Citizen’s Congress Watch, this money funded 58 of the winning contests. The races included 68 House contests and six in the Senate. In our local area alone, Chris Gibson received $950,877 vs. Scott Murphy’s $178,886 (NY-20), and Nan Hayworth received $528,808 v. John Hall’s $319,365 (NY-19).
What does this mean?
This money from unnamed sources changed the balance of power in the U.S. House of Representatives. People with an agenda unknown to voters are deciding our elections. They are the people paying for all the negative campaign ads meant to sway voters with fear, distortion and lies. It also means that we are very unlikely to get solid, qualified citizens to run for office when you look at the amount of money it takes to get elected.
John Boehner can talk about voters voicing a need for change in Tuesday’s election. The voter’s voice hasn’t really been heard yet. What we’ve heard is the voice of unnamed special interest groups. And I’m sure the lobbyists are already at work in Washington, D.C. making their bosses interests become a reality. If you think this is negative or cynical, track the amount of money the healthcare insurance companies and pharmaceutical industry give to our senators and congressman.
What can we do?
Get involved in local political activity to fight at a grassroots level. Turn off 24-hour cable news, which seeks to make news/drama out of the differences in the American public when we have much in common. Write to your senators and congressman demanding a different way to fund elections.
Pray that someone brings a different case before the Supreme Court to overrule Citizens United and pray that the Supreme Court has the wisdom to make the right decision.
CHANGE OF ATTITUDE
The stories we hear in the news present a troubling view of the state of our town, county, state and country. We wonder “What can I do to make a positive difference?” The answer lies in changing how talk to and about one another.
We dehumanize those around us by shaming, labeling, ignoring, yelling, overprotecting, excuse-making, sarcasm, hitting, and failing to provide consistent boundaries. The way we react produces behaviors that include people pleasing, guilt, manipulation and rebellion.
We have the power to do things differently. We can learn to incorporate specific language into our vocabulary that honors the essence of who we really are: people born with gifts of character. Using specific virtue-based language to acknowledge right behavior when it is exhibited connects the individual to themselves in an authentic way: “You were patient during class today, Tommy” honors a usually squirmy child for paying attention. Just watch his eyes light up with recognition.
Another way we can make a difference is when discipline is needed. We can choose to see the person as separate from their behavior and without their label. We can see something positive and ask for the specific virtue needed at that moment. Try asking: “What would help you to be peaceful or patient now” and “What have learned from this?” and see the difference!
These techniques work all over the world: in prisons, schools (to prevent bullying and internalize character), government agencies, places of business and at home. To learn more visit: www.communitycharacter.com or www.virtuesproject.com.
Community Character Consulting