I would like to address the recent letter that was published in your newspaper from Mayor Elwell in his response to one of the greatest teachers this town has ever had, Doug DePice. This letter is an attempt to correct a major error that seems to be constantly occurring in our nation’s political arena of late. The right in this country to openly disagree without fear of being belittled by those you disagree with – regardless of the issues at hand.
For some reason in today’s politics we seem to believe that if you disagree with the elected officials that have become entrenched in their positions of authority and power that it’s a bad thing; that the cost may be too much to bear. I would like to remind your readers of a wonderful document that established the founding of this great nation: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Most people fail to understand the meaning of that phrase in the Declaration of Independence. The phrase actually reflects the very core of Americanism – the right of every single American to question our elected leaders, to disagree with the policies, and/or the direction that they may be taking our country. This applies to Federal, State and our local governments (keep in mind that at the time of the Declaration of Independence, there were no states!). The next paragraph in that great document states, “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Those last six words say a mouthful!!
Mayor Elwell had every right to disagree with what Mr. DePice wrote; likewise, Mr. DePice had every right, not only as an American citizen, but as a citizen of Secaucus, to say what he felt was wrong with the current administration. To say otherwise would be to dispute the importance of the Declaration of Independence. What Mayor Elwell did not have the right to do was to belittle Mr. DePice as a teacher of our town’s children merely because he didn’t like what Mr. DePice said.
As a fellow teacher and a citizen of this town, I found Mayor Elwell’s response in terrible taste.
Nowhere in Mr. DePice’s article does he make an attempt to belittle the mayor; he only states issues that he disagrees with (his letter actually was in response to an article written by Al Sullivan). If Mayor Elwell had simply written a rebuttal of Mr. DePice’s arguments, that would have been honorable and acceptable, but unfortunately, our mayor seems to have bought into the normal trend in today’s politics – “How dare you disagree with me!!”
Personally, I feel that Mayor Elwell’s comments not only belittled Mr. DePice but every teacher at the High School and every single citizen of this town that has the “dares” to disagree with his policies.
Yet, I must also thank our mayor, for he gave me some great material to use in my classroom to stress the importance of involvement in politics, both on the local level, the state level and the federal level. For again, as the Declaration of Independence states, you only have the power of which was given to you by the people.
Michael N. Gehm