After an acrimonious year in Nashua politics, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau struck just the right tone at Sunday’s swearing in of the Board of Aldermen. Some aldermen, though, did not appear to be listening, which is no surprise.
In politics, calls for “compromise” often are insincere. Politicians ask for the other side to give ground while offering nothing in return. When they say “compromise,” they mean “give up everything you want and rubber stamp my agenda.” (See Reid, Harry, U.S. Senate Majority Leader.) These games make actual compromise more difficult because they erode trust and breed hostility.
On Sunday, Mayor Lozeau, a Republican, and state Attorney General Joe Foster, a Democrat from Nashua, called on the aldermen to seek common ground. They did not ask people to cast aside their principles or give up their most cherished beliefs. They just asked that everyone put the community first.
At the local level, political disagreements do not always break along philosophical lines. That should make compromise easier. Instead, they often get personal, which makes it harder for opponents or rivals to get along. Newly sworn-in Alderman Pamela Brown kicked off the year by suggesting that board Chairman David Deane’s committee assignments revealed latent sexism. Brown later apologized, but the misstep was an example of how local boards often become needlessly divided.
Lozeau’s point was not that people should compromise just to compromise, but that good government requires elected officials to put the people first, their egos and personal agendas last. She is dead right. Maybe this year that will happen, at least more often than not.