Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 77. Sunrise is 6:41 AM and sunset 6:53 PM for 12h 11m 37s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 36.5% of its visible disk illuminated.
On this day in 1780, Benedict Arnold gives the British the plans to West Point.
Consider a sign in front of a church, listing only three words: FAITH. REASON. TRADITION. (Another ordering of these words would alter the positions of the first two, as Martin Albl’s Reason, Faith, Tradition does. A secular equivalent for politics or business might simply be Principle, Reason, Past Practice.)
These orderings share one characteristic: they place tradition or practice last. Other qualities come first: a set of beliefs or principles and the application of human reason to them.
That’s not how Old Whitewater’s remaining, aged politicians carry on. For that ilk, tradition — business as usual— always comes first.
There are likely two reasons that they prioritize tradition.
First, it suits their ability to control institutions when they insist that the future must look like their own (admitted failed) past practices. It is they who are most familiar with their own dull conduct, so it is they who are most likely to continue along those same lines. (Indeed, competitive and dynamic people would find nothing useful from the aged men on the Community Development Authority or from the man who now sits both on the CDA and as Common Council president.)
Old Whitewater’s excuse-making failures may delight in themselves, but sharp people have no interest in letting that skunk smell permeate their clothes.
This conveniently leaves Whitewater’s political institutions in the hands of incompetent, but self-satisfied, old men.
Second, tradition is the easiest to master within a trio of principle, reason, and tradition. It simply requires less work. To be candid, even an illiterate or semi-literate person could follow ‘business as usual’ without much effort. This shows in both the old men of the CDA and Common Council: even after decades with the city in their geriatric grip, they struggle to follow an agenda or comply with state statutes and local ordinances. They’re entitled, and their entitlement makes them, and keeps them, dull.
America, Wisconsin, and Whitewater are filled with creative, dynamic, hardworking people. Sadly, they’re not to be found among those who run Whitewater’s Common Council or its Community Development Authority.