Government works

Unless you’ve been deliberately avoiding all mention of this year’s political races (and often it’s quite understandable why you would) you know that these weeks bring those glorious partisan pep rallies known as the conventions.

Yes, every four years our most partisan Republicans and Democrats gather to cheer their candidates, laugh uproariously at their jokes and agree wholeheartedly that the other party just doesn’t get it. It’s more of a vacation than an actual political process these days but if you are a huge supporter of one of the two major political parties at least it’s a fun one.

This week the Republican Party is formally nominating Mitt Romney as its presidential candidate and tossing out so much red meat that there will likely be more than a few clogged arteries by the end of the festivities. And then next week it’s the Democrats’ turn as they put forth President Barack Obama for a second term and toss out the same partisan treats (although being Democrats, the red meat will be organic and without any hormones and there will also be a vegetarian alternative offered). But aside from getting the partisans excited for the long weeks ahead to November, will any of this do any good?

The truth is we still have to govern after the last red, white and blue balloon is dropped and the one thing you’re not going to hear a lot about at these conventions is the word “cooperation.” That’s what makes our government work. The next two weeks we’re going to hear a lot about what the Republicans or Democrats are going to do, but not a lot about how they’re going to do it.

And with one party in particular, Republicans, we’re looking in your general direction, we’re going to hear about how government is not the answer … except, of course, when it is.

The truth is government does work. It works here in Greenwich and it works in this state. We talk in this week’s edition about efforts underway to get state money for a vital project, the replacement of our outdated emergency communications towers. This is something we take for granted as civilians that it will be there when we need it, but it’s something our first responders know needs to be vastly improved, and soon.

Our emergency communications system is there in times of major accidents, the severe weather we are having with alarming frequency and, most terrifying of all, a potential terrorist attack in the region. We need this system to work and we cannot make it with outdated equipment, especially when the newer systems do so much more to help coordinate a large-scale response to an emergency.

So how are we going to get this? We hope through our Republican-led town government and our Democratic-led state government and with some help from Washington, D.C. thrown in for good measure. To get this done it’s going to take cooperation and, yes, it’s going to take government. Now it’s not a sure thing that any of this money is coming, but we are optimistic that our parties can come together and do what’s right for the entire region, not just Greenwich and not just for people of one political party.

When we talk about slashing government spending for the sake of slashing, it’s projects like this that are the ones that are hurt. Cutting state spending to win political points puts the squeeze on municipalities like Greenwich and forces the town to stare down a project that could cost as much as $16 million.

So when we cheer on our parties over these next two weeks, let’s not forget that government matters, government can work and cuts do not exist in a vacuum. There is an impact to our choices, especially when it comes to getting what we need.

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