To the Editor:
The Bridgewater election is over.
As I look back on the achievements of each candidate, there are some things that don’t make much sense to me. The messaging in each campaign ad was telling but certainly not prophetic. Matt Moench's stroll through the high school won over Jeffrey Brookner's commitment to transparency in government. Michael Kirsh's kitchen table was more appealing than Patti Selikoff's tour through our parks. Republican promises to fight overdevelopment were accepted at face value despite a history of selling-out to developers. And of course, how can we forget Filipe Pedroso’s grotesque appeal to the most loathsome characteristics of the American electorate. Rarely does one see such determination to check all the boxes for a kitschy production that provides all the unrelated and misrepresented data that a misinformed political cultist could hope for. Let’s not forget the images in that ad - before he unapologetically edited the worst parts. It’s councilman Pedroso’s pièce de résistance for voters who harbor ill will toward any candidates who call themselves Democrats - just because they’re Democrats. He seems pleased to serve those who lack an appreciation for factual accuracy and would much rather cheer a digital rendition of a man’s face on fire. Every Bridgewater resident should make an effort to remember that while we discuss his re-election.
To a large extent, this election wasn't about rational decisions. It's become tribal. Too many Republican voters will energetically rally to oppose their own interests, as long as their candidates have an "R" next to their names. Too many Republican voters will proudly march in lock step while being played by their representatives - even when proof of the lies are put squarely in front of their faces. And when it’s over, they’ll gloat, not so much about the ideas they now have the power to put in motion, but simply because their team won. When I attended a council meeting on Nov. 7th, council members, all Republican, took turns congratulating Moench, Kirsch, Ring and each other, while Brookner sat among the public in plain sight. The only person who made an attempt to take the high road and acknowledge the campaign of his opponent was Moench. For me, this was telling. For months, Brookner and his running mates conveyed a vitally important message about what can happen when one party overwhelmingly dominates the political landscape within a system that requires two parties to function properly. The founders of our country built a political system that’s designed to cause conflict. The idea is that a little chaos can go a long way to maintain healthy debate and avert the kind of political stagnation one sees in a monarchy (for example). In our municipal government, we’re seeing such political stagnation in the form of indifference to public demands for transparency. Worse, we see that unchecked party loyalty can afford you the ability to make sickening campaign ads without being roundly condemned in public by people in your own party.
The good news is that Bridgewater took a giant step toward restoring a balanced two-party government in this past election. Transparency was part of the discussion. Preservation of our wonderful parks and open spaces were debated by the electorate because some candidates made it a priority. That should not go unnoticed, and I sincerely hope it gains momentum.