To the editor:
Over the past two weeks, Bristol Democrat Party Chairman John Faria has been criticized for essentially requiring “loyalty” and being “old school,” based on a Bristol Democrat Town Committee decision to not accept Councilor Tim Sweeney onto the committee and likely not endorse him as a Democrat in this year’s election.
The debate over the past two weeks is a bit confusing, so I would like to add some perspective, as a member of the local Democrat Party and former elected councilor and state representative who often “thought and acted outside the box.”
Political parties develop a political philosophy and matching programs that define their ideology and set out the agenda they would pursue should they win elective office.
Our country and its electorate are moving away from political party activism, and more people consider themselves “independents” who want their elected representatives to be independent thinkers. We increasingly vote for “the person,” rather than the party or the party’s philosophy.
Part of what has disconnected people from a political party, is the parties themselves have, in their effort to seek more voters and sell themselves, become “all things to all people.” Frankly, it’s all a big mess, which is what has driven people away from identifying with either party.
But since there is no formal “Independent Party,” which represents a specific philosophy and ideology, with matching government programs, the Democrat and Republican parties have had a field day. Voters can call themselves independents or unaffiliated all they want, but at the end of the day, there are only two political parties standing, the Democrats and the Republicans, locally, statewide and federally.
On occasion, an “Independent” candidate wins an election, but that independent has to work with the Democrat or Republican Party if they want to get anything accomplished. They must give up some of their beliefs to get something accomplished for the greater good. Nobody, but nobody gets their way in democracy; they all get something less. I didn’t make up this system, but having observed it from afar and up close, this is how it works, right or wrong.
The local Democrat Party is active in shaping government policy. It is their purpose, and there is nothing wrong with that or to be ashamed of. The committee seeks out candidates who can work together, be cohesive, who are philosophically and ideologically akin and can act as a coalition … a team … to get things done to move this Town of Bristol forward.
All in all, it has done a pretty damn good job. Just look around. We should be proud of this town and what the Democrats have done in part to successfully manage its growth and direction. Perfect, no, but neither is democracy.
So while we all want elected officials to be independent thinkers, there are two requirements that are basic to the party structure. The first is loyalty and the second is discipline. Without either, the entire system breaks down.
Councilman Sweeney, while an independent thinker, is neither loyal nor disciplined. The Bristol Democratic Town Committee has every right and every expectation, that those Democrat candidates it supports will do just two things if elected.
The first is to elect leadership within the party. The second is to reach agreement on a budget. The committee neither directs nor expects or tries to enforce anything else, and accusations or assertions to the contrary are simply not true
While inexperience has its trappings, so does leadership fatigue from someone who has been in office too long. If one of the freshmen councilmen were to have been voted chairperson of the Bristol Town Council, it would not have been the first or last time in this town’s long and storied history.
So before judging Chairman Faria too harshly, based on overly broad generalizations and lack of understanding of a changing and imperfect democrat process, please consider the facts, the process and the concepts of loyalty and discipline.
Before you make Councilman Sweeney a martyr, who was ostracized “by the good old boys,” consider loyalty and discipline in your everyday life and how important those concepts are to a successful life and moral compass. The town committee has decided to wish Mr. Sweeney all the best, with no disrespect to either him or Council Chairwoman Mary Parella.
I have voted many times in the past for Ms. Parella, as many other Democrats have also voted for her. She is a competent and honest elected representative of the people of Bristol, but I do not support Councilman Sweeney’s decision to vote for her as council chairwoman.
If he wants to be a Republican, be a Republican and be loyal to the Republicans, as Chairman Faria said, not a “party pretender.”
Douglas W. Gablinske
45 Kickemuit Ave.