Rising Up From Down South

If you haven’t been paying attention to what’s happening politically with our neighbours to the south, it might be worth taking a look. There are some fascinating things going on in both the Republican and Democrat presidential candidate races that have some parallels to what’s been happening here in North Grenville.

Some people know Donald Trump is in the race for the Republican nomination for president. Regardless of how you feel about him, there is something that is becoming very clear. Though he has no political experience and is apparently personally financing his own campaign, he’s winning. Many Americans are fed up with their politicians being bought with corporate campaign financing and then they turn their back on the people. So, along comes Trump saying that he’s different and that he doesn’t need that corporate money.

On the other side, there’s something interesting going on in the Democratic presidential nomination race. Even before the race started, Hilary Clinton was being declared the winner by many and even being talked about as the next president. Vermont senator Bernie Sanders was considered an upstart and a novelty when the campaign began. As American economist Robert Reich put it, Hilary is the best candidate for the current political system and Bernie Sanders is the best candidate to start a political revolution. Well something has been happening on the way to Hilary’s acceptance speech and that is that she’s in the middle of a dogfight.

Some of the ideas that Sanders is promoting are: to remove corporate financing from political campaigns and to have a single payer healthcare system (just like in Canada) among others. These ideas (though nowhere near what Trump is talking about), are similar to Trump’s approach to his campaign, in that they are both considered as anti-establishment. Judging by the success of both Trump and Sanders so far, it seems very apparent that Americans are very unhappy with ‘status quo politics’ and are looking for alternatives.

Why should this matter to us here in North Grenville? It matters because it would be great to see people inspired by this anti-establishment movement and have them start to challenge some of the tired and worn political philosophies and ideas that have been used unsuccessfully for years here in North Grenville. The good news is that over the past few months a window of opportunity seems to be opening. There seems to be a genuine willingness on behalf of certain members of council to respond to input from residents, beyond a pat on the head or a meaningless statement of support.

However, the most important component is still missing from this equation and that’s a dialogue coming from residents. In order for the establishment of the past to be cast aside and a new way of thinking to begin, it’s critical for us as residents to seize this opportunity that we’ve been waiting for. We have a chance to step forward and engage those on council who are receptive. So talk to your neighbours, talk to your friends or other community minded people about getting involved now.

Municipal budget meetings are being held right now. This is a perfect opportunity for residents to step forward and give their input on how our money will be spent over the next two years. Yes, these budget meetings are about the preparation of a TWO year budget instead of the usual one year budget. So, it’s even more important than ever for people to come out and share their concerns or offer their ideas on what the budget priorities should be. There may not be an opportunity for budget input next year, so now is the time!

Is this the dawning of a new era of local politics? I for one certainly hope so. Will you join me and help to forge a new establishment that includes input from all residents?

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