B.W. Powe, an English professor at York University in Toronto, once said, "Democracies should be a delirium of choices -- more options, not fewer; more avenues to travel, not fewer."
Political divides in the United States are unquestionably deep today. On most issues people line the outside of the argument and very few are willing to venture into the middle. Unfortunately this is where real governing, real compromise, gets done. Those on the fringes hold so tightly to their beliefs that they often won't even consider an opposing side of an issue.
One time where people can open up -- albeit just a crack -- is during an election. This is where democracy can flourish. We have all heard that nothing is more powerful than a vote. If you don't like what is happening, change it with a vote.
But you can also change it by being part of the process; being one of the delirium of choices can make significant changes along with a vote. That is why those who stand up to run for public office -- win or lose -- make the process, and the government, better.
In recent weeks we have seen citizens across the Valley toss their hats into the ring to run for a variety of offices. Some are already office holders who are seeking another term. Others are current office holders who are looking for more responsibility, the next step up the ladder.
And yet others are political newcomers, those with little experience in the arena but who realize now is their time to make their voices heard.
These candidates will have something to say during the campaign and it is worth listening to them. They will have ideas, plans for what they see are the future for their municipalities.
Maybe theirs will be plans we have heard before, but maybe they have fresh ideas, new views on how the Valley can adapt as we push through the first quarter of the 21st century.
Democracy thrives on choices, choices between candidates, issues, principles, and the more people who stand up, the better. These candidates, who in the end are trying to make a difference, should be commended for their efforts at a time when most would rather sit on the sidelines and complain about how government works or doesn't work.
Not everyone thinks it needs fixing. But if you do, don't sit it out. Get involved.