Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Civil Civic Discourse

I'd like to take a minute to thank Ronald Hardy over at Babblemur for his kind words regarding my post on the change of government petition. He's right: I don't support the concept, but I do understand where the change crowd's coming from and sympathize with why they would want to shake things up a bit. At the end of the day, though, I just think Oshkosh is better served by changing a few cogs than by buying a new machine.

Anyway, I'd be happy to discuss the reasons for this further if anyone would like to continue this discussion. I would much rather carry on a cordial point, counter-point discussion than in the raving "screw you!"/"no, screw you more!" manner that discussions in local online circles has been known to devolve into. I'm no prude when it comes to coarse language, but I'd like a little substance to go along with my vulgarity.

Furthermore, I think Ronald's on a solid footing when he says:

No one that I know of wants Oshkosh to fail – we all want Oshkosh to be a better place. If a significant majority of the city wants to make this change for the better, then the city will come together to make it happen.

That's exactly the right attitude it's going to take to get voters in Oshkosh to buy an idea like this. There is always a significant majority of he people in this city that want to make it better, the problem is just organizing them and getting them on the same page. That being said, fair warning: the second that "significant majority" becomes fractured, the second this starts becoming about "us" vs. "them" (Chamber vs. average Joe, North side vs. West side, etc.), the ODC will have lost. There's no one to run against is this situation, the idea is to just convince the voter to buy your concept. If a "them" does materialize -- then that's another story, but if you create one by saying "Portion of the Population X Opposes this Measure for Reason Y" without any basis for doing so, then Portion of the Population X will fight back furiously. Even if they don't care about the cause, they will care about the slight.

That might mean creating a "long view" game plan that extends beyond April (in fact, by my estimations, it will mean doing just that), but this is something you'll have to win a lot of support for and building a solid base will take time.

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