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Divisive politics


03/01/18



 Washington, D.C., is a mess and has been for quite some time as elected officials continue to put politics over people. Compromises are not sought and too many of us are suffering from the narrow-focused agendas of our two-party system.

Over the past few years we have seen that kind of rigidity take hold at our Statehouse and begin impacting our lawmakers. This may come as no surprise as an overabundance of information fills our news feeds on a daily basis. Far too few of us are equipped to understand the “big picture” of many proposed bills, and we are left putting our trust in elected officials whose intentions may not be purely selfless. More recently, I have seen this kind of environment begin to infiltrate our local communities.  There is a group in my town that has been sharing misleading statements about the effectiveness of our town government. They claim there is a lack of transparency among elected and appointed officials, and they take hours at each meeting to scrutinize every detail from the cost of one new photocopier to the content of meeting minutes. When the town makes an extra effort to articulate the intentions of a warrant article through descriptive language, members of the group refuse to support that measure because the wording, not the principle, doesn’t meet their standards. These mixed messages make it difficult to identify ways to work together to meet our shared goals of safe and enjoyable living.  
The voices at the table who highly doubt government may have good reason in Washington but it’s certainly unfounded in our towns. The municipalities across the state offer barrier-free access to all local government officials, from town managers to zoning board to police officers. I’m disheartened at the notion that, even with the small nature of our state, we are losing our ability to work civilly with our fellow townspeople. 
We cannot allow complacency and divisive politics to enter into our local cities; this is simply unacceptable as this should be the one place where we work to seek common ground with our neighbors and friends. Our communities define us, especially here in New Hampshire, and we have to have faith that those we have put into elected roles are working to put people over politics. Do not allow the negative rhetoric to shape your opinion of your town’s government; go meet with them and learn more about what they do with the resources they have. You may be surprised by the work they can accomplish to keep our systems running efficiently and successfully.
Allyson Ryder serves as the associate director at Leadership NH and sits on several statewide nonprofit boards and committees. She can be reached at almryder@outlook.com. 





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