Crown Heights' Virtual Town Square, Nostrand Park, has a reflection posted this morning on the shooting of Congressman Giffords and her constituents in Tucson that really resonated with me. Read it here (and don't forget to check their site regularly for great local news and analysis).
In particular, NP makes the point that our most beloved and effective politicians are those who make themselves available to constituents. In an era when it's easy to feel increasingly alienated from the forces that govern our lives, events like the one Rep. Giffords was hosting when she was attacked are essential to maintaining a participatory democracy. Here in Crown Heights, as NP notes, we're blessed with some wonderful office holders in this regard. I share Councilwoman Letitia James' politics and would likely vote for her if I had never met her, but chatting with her at CHCA meetings and seeing her spend well over an hour on a Saturday afternoon listening to concerned constituents and suggesting constructive solutions to problems at the pawn shop protest last October has given me a substantively deeper faith in her as a representative of, and advocate for, our community. Having taken over for the late James Davis, Councilwoman James likely knows all too well the hazards of her public position, but she stays connected to her district, as Rep. Giffords was doing on Saturday.
Amid calls for improved security and increased bodyguard details for Congressional representatives in the wake of this tragedy, NP reminds us that if we want to remain involved in our democracy and connected to those we elect, we must think of them first as neighbors and human beings. I couldn't agree more. There's been no shortage of public comment about our political climate in recent days, but as I often find, the most important message is often available closest to home.