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WEB EXTRA: Common sense to one person is nonsense to another
I don't believe there is any place for common sense in politics.
Every political issue is debatable. The term "common sense" should be reserved for absolute truths.
To say that people must have water to live is a common sense statement. There is nothing to discuss. On the other hand, the financing and design of our water delivery infrastructure and whether we have water meters are political decisions that ought to be subject to debate.
One person's political common sense is not necessarily the same as another's. If we visit the Comox Valley Common Sense (CVCS) website, we are presented with many policies and positions that we are told are not open to debate. They are simply common sense.
Some of their positions I am inclined to agree with and others I am not. The point is they are all worth debating.
Even in their short vision statement there are arguable points. We are told it is common sense to want a community where we are "proud to live." But one person can be proud of something that another is ashamed of.
Our community should be "economically vibrant" and "growing." Did you know that there are some interesting new ideas floating around about what constitutes a healthy economy? And how much growth can we endure before we destroy our host?
What are "necessary services"? How high is an "affordable" tax?
When the founding fathers from the American colonies met at the Continental Congress in the 18th century, they arrived with some radically diverse ideas and visions. Through a series of vibrant debates, most of the delegates adjusted and even reversed their views and arrived at a consensus.
The results were the American constitution and Bill of Rights; two of the most remarkable political documents ever written.
In today's political atmosphere, we lack this kind of intelligent constructive debate. We seldom listen to contrary ideas or seek a consensus. Instead of offering intelligent, convincing arguments, our elected officials dig in their heels and shout "common sense" at each other.
I am curious to see who appears on the CVCS slate of approved candidates but it will have no effect on my vote. In choosing how to cast my ballot I look for four qualities in a candidate.
First, they must share my values. Second, they must be able to articulate their ideas clearly. Third, they must have the intelligence and skills to work within the political system.
And finally, they must have the flexibility to grow and change when they encounter new ideas and information.
It is admirable that the CVCS wants to focus on election issues rather than personalities and they have every right to promote their positions. But they are making a mistake in claiming ownership of "common sense."
In the political theatre, "common sense" is the last resort of the idealogue who has run out of effective arguments.