Elizabeth Ruediger:

To the editor:

The politics of isolationism and the appearance of impropriety — they are equally damaging to the democratic process.

I even have to question if it is politically correct to use the word "democratic," as we, as a nation, practice the process of treating anyone who thinks differently as "the enemy." This plays in government from top to bottom, from the White House to the tiniest of municipalities. One may think running a government as a family business is a new concept in the era of Donald Trump, but this modus operandi has been alive and well in small town government.

Part of the issue is that residents feel their town magically runs itself. It doesn't. It requires knowledge and commitment. Part of the issue is that small towns are dominated by a few family strains that feel an inherent entitlement to hold the reigns and seek the glory of maintaining a monarchy based on a small gene pool.
This does not have to be so.

I encourage those who have joined their community to rise to the occasion and assist in the preservation of a quality of life that brought them to their place of residence. There is no birth right to being a positive role model in your community. The challenge is to defy the logic that anything outside of the inner circle is somehow a threat to the longstanding way of life that all in the community enjoy, not just a select few who happen to have the "acceptable" last name and an automatic claim to respectability.

Introducing new ideas and creating a sense of checks and balances to avoid conflict of interest or the appearance of impropriety is a good thing. Instituting a sense of entitlement based on a birth certificate does not serve the community, at large, well. It creates an air of distrust among those in the community who will always feel like outsiders or worse, infiltrators.

We all have a part to play. I encourage those who are "transplants" to not be cavalier in their need for community betterment. Change is hard and not always welcome. But it is important for those who relocate to our communities to invest their time and strengths into their local government to collectively create a future that is stable, steadfast and progressive.

We all need to grow together, as a community filled with people who have had real world experiences, as opposed to a lifetime of isolationism.

So, if you have an inkling to help by devoting time and attention to the real world problems that face your community, now is the time to ask, "what can I do to help make things better?" The first step is filling vacancies on municipal boards and committees that require a level of intellect that many communities are desperate for and in short supply of.

If you work for your community, even as an outsider, your community will work for all who cherish it, regardless of birthright. It is your time and your expertise are required; you decide how you want to apply them.

Elizabeth Ruediger