their point of view | What happens when polarization takes hold of school boards, of local government? | Chroniclers
Or take Thailand. It is a place where civilian politicians are regularly overthrown by generals in military coups. Candidates who say false things end up in prison, their assets confiscated. As a promising member of Thailand’s elite told me on a recent research trip, âWhy should I get into public service? This is where you lose everything.
This view is widespread, and the consequence is predictable: good talented people stay away from politics. This effect exists wherever politics is a dangerous and potentially expensive game to play.
At the local level in particular, any high risk quickly makes the public service unattractive. The mayor of Dodge City, Kansas, (a population of approximately 27,000) resigned because she was receiving too many death threats.
If threats and abuse become a normalized part of school board and city council meetings, then people running for these positions in the future are more likely to focus on power or, worse, be sympathetic. to those who peddle plots and make threats. The right people will just do something else.
This dynamic can occur even in small groups, such as local landlord associations that govern the functions and rules of the community. Residents who volunteer to serve on these committees usually do so reluctantly because someone has to. But others like to have authority and use power to control others. This is why there are so many stories of abuse and bullying. When community-oriented people don’t want power, the worst can waltz right into those positions, to the collective detriment.