Friday, June 14, 2024

The curtain for the 2023 election will drop and the candidates and activists will soon take a bow. We will again reflect on who we were and what we have done.

The apparent take is that, as one of the wealthiest cities in the United States and one of the most sophisticated crucibles for ingenuity, we could have done better. We had an election season roiled by hatred, disrespect, social shaming and gross mischaracterization. An all-or-nothing, either-or type of thinking epitomizes our political arena.

type of thinking epitomizes our political arena.

Many of our activists were quick in condemning, social shaming, minimizing any voice of reason, and grossly mischaracterizing the pragmatic approach the city badly needs. In today’s Cambridge, one cannot be a practical bike lane supporter. It would be best if you were a zealous our-way-or-the-highway advocate. Otherwise, you will be labeled as an opponent to saving lives, only trying to rip off the bike lanes. In today’s Cambridge, quick-to-shame activists will label many moderate views on civic issues as “homophobic” or “transphobic.” Anyone who differs from a single component of their agenda will be quickly treated as an unforgivable opponent. In their belief, being a moderate is “just supporting the other side.”

Angry and hostile tones permeated this election, and group allegiance came out as a kind of mentality disorder and hate politics, grossly deterring the balanced approach the city needed to bring itself together. Even our esteemed Harvard Crimson may have forgotten the noble tradition of Walter Cronkite in journalism, mistaking allegation with verification, conviction with indictment. In some reporters’ minds, a judge and jury will no longer be necessary; the accused is automatically guilty as charged.

In this toxic arena, we are no longer capable of building a consensus. There can be no rational political dialogue. In this climate, Cambridge did not treat our centrist, moderate or independent candidates respectfully. A balanced candidacy was hard to win. The “us vs them,” “all or nothing” mentality is almost certain to harm everyone ultimately.

It may be very late in this election, but we need our solidarity back. Diversity will not hold without solidarity. Equality starts with solidarity. As a city, we will need to transcend cultural and political boundaries. We must signify once again our unity, mutual support and our shared sense of community. We must show compassion and regain our ability to empathize with others and stand by their side for their needs and ways of life. We need to offer our cooperation and support to each other. The polarization is toxic. The apathy must go. The divisive politics must go.

Hao Wang, candidate for Cambridge City Council