I'd like to express my sense of awe at the renewal of the promise of democracy I felt at the Inauguration of Mayor Dave Roberts and the Hoboken United team. In an age of deepening public apathy about politics, Roberts offers a badly needed sense of hope that things can be different.
In Dave Roberts, Hoboken has a leader who will listen with real care to the concerns of ordinary citizens. People sometimes underestimate just what a powerful tool listening can be. As an English teacher who strives to create democratic classrooms, I've discovered that listening to my students empowers them to make better sense of their world. A Roberts' administration committed to listening will empower the citizens of Hoboken to feel that their concerns matter. It will unleash their latent creativity, which can be harnessed in solving civic problems. Most importantly, the validation of being listened to at the top has the potential to transform our public sphere into an exciting place brimming with creative ideas.
Hand-in-hand with his emphasis on listening, Dave Roberts' valuing of dialogue also shows that he is light years ahead of many of his political peers. In my studies at NYU's school of education, much was made of the crucial importance of dialogue as society evolves into a postmodern sensibility. The ego-driven posturing that too often passes for "debate" these days, has more in common with Wrestlemania than the thoughtful exchange of ideas needed to sustain real democracy. If done right, dialogue enriches and transforms everyone involved. It also promotes a reaching out towards others so badly needed as an antidote to the selfishness that weakens community. Indeed if the human race is to make it past the threats of nuclear annihilation and the poisoning of our ecosystem, perfecting the art and science of dialogue may be our best hope. In its tradition of giving gifts to the world (baseball, Sinatra), this mile-square miracle is about to offer up a working model of a dialogic government rooted in respect for all its diverse citizens. Let me add how grateful I am for the efforts of Maurice Fitzgibbons, Bernard Kenny and Bob Menendez for their role in making the dream of a more open government in Hoboken a reality. Their eloquent words on Inauguration Day made it clear just how important their vision, inspiration and tenacity were in making this historic moment of hope possible for the citizens of Hoboken.