By Raad Ghantous
“The time has come when people should have experience and knowledge and trained minds to take part in the government of this country, instead of sitting back and finding fault with those who happen to be in charge.
“Busy minorities who make politics a business control the destinies of many communities simply because the majority does not put forth an effort to be heard.
“Every man should take part in the political life of his community. If they do not, they cannot expect to attain a truly democratic government of the people.
“I have never had any fear that in any issue of right and wrong, placed before a truly representative gathering, the right would always win. Cities are all right and will so continue as long as citizens do their duty and force officers to do theirs.”
Those words of wisdom, which sound like they could be uttered today in the midst of this head-spinning political season, were in fact offered up by Ole Hanson himself to a reporter of the Los Angeles Evening Herald newspaper back on March 25, 1919.
I think Ole Hanson would be proud today of just how engaged the citizenry of San Clemente is in the political process and the maintenance and protection of our unique quality of life originally envisioned by him in the early 1920s.
Many have heard me say that I would rather live in a community that is over-engaged than one that is not engaged in actively and vigilantly charting its destiny. Having said that though, at times here in the Spanish Village by the Sea, and in the course, and verve, of being “engaged,” we seem to forget the things that unite us and focus, instead, on the things that divide us—sometimes at the goading of others.
As such, perhaps we all could use a positive reminder sometimes that as much as the date of the election is an important marker of victory, the true work really happens after the election and the victory party euphoria. So in many cases, the people we were slinging mud at and trying to publicly undermine during the election campaign may very well be the same people we have to work together with once we are sitting in that sea that was so hardly fought for.
What lessons, San Clemente, do you think we as a community should learn or take away from previous election periods? And does how a person decides to behave, and how they address and respond to challengers while running, factor into your decision of who you end up, or ended up, voting for locally in the past?
Many in town, I think. would be surprised by the depth of Ole’s political experience, as well as his progressive, “bullish” leanings and involvement as it is so much more than simply having been a mayor of Seattle; and I promise to share more of it in future columns here. But suffice it to say that one thing Ole always did say when asked what was the primary reason for him to serve and be engaged was, “to set a good example,”… and that is something we all would benefit from remembering as we strive to do the same.
Raad Ghantous is the president of the San Clemente Historical Society.