Democracy and Difficult Decisions


(L to R) Resident Carolyn Denaro and merchants Rachel Perkal and Jenny Weizerchon help envision Long Grove’s future at a recent workshop.

It’s no surprise that the job of Village President involves making some weighty decisions. I have previously blogged about this topic, for example, in my post Just Call Me, “The Tie Breaker.” Today I have been trying to make peace with another difficult choice that will result in some number of residents on the disappointed/unhappy/outraged spectrum, no matter how the decision comes down. Certainly politics is not a job for someone first and foremost concerned with pleasing everyone.

David Brooks is a political op-ed columnist for The New York Times, and his articles often resonate with me. On February 26, 2016 he said this about democracy and decisions:

“We live in a big, diverse society. There are essentially two ways to maintain order and get things done in such a society–politics or some form of dictatorship. Either through compromise or brute force. Our founding fathers chose politics.

Politics is an activity in which you recognize the simultaneous existence of different groups, interests and opinions. You try to find some way to balance or reconcile or compromise those interests, or at least a majority of them. You follow a set of rules, enshrined in a constitution or in custom, to help you reach these compromises in a way everybody considers legitimate.

The downside of politics is that people never really get everything they want. It’s messy, limited and no issue is ever really settled. Politics is a muddled activity in which people have to recognize restraints and settle for less than they want. Disappointment is normal.

But that’s sort of the beauty of politics, too. It involves an endless conversation in which we learn about other people and see things from their vantage point and try to balance their needs against our own. Plus, it’s better than the alternative: rule by some authoritarian tyrant who tries to govern by clobbering everyone in his way.”

The article, “The Governing Cancer of Our Time,” goes on to talk about Donald Trump’s current campaign, which I am NOT going to comment on!

But on this subject of learning from other people and seeing from their vantage point, the Village is currently in the middle of doing just that with our Comprehensive Plan Update project. Earlier this winter we held a series of stakeholder interviews, and have been gathering resident opinions via surveys and other online engagement. On April 11th an “EnVision Long Grove” public workshop was held with well over 100 residents attending to participate in shaping the future development of our Village. It was a great turnout and wonderful to see so many citizens working together to help preserve our community character with an eye to our needs going forward.

Updating the Comprehensive Plan will involve a series of decisions by the Plan Commission and Village Board in the coming months. Some may be difficult and generate some passionate discussions and differing opinions. On with Democracy!