Emmitsburg, Maryland – You can tell it’s a small town when you know both of yesterday’s candidates for mayor, and when the mayor-elect’s margin of 33 votes constitutes a 20 percent victory in a contest that generated a pretty good turnout. But however inconsequential in the Grand Scheme of Things, this town’s choice of a mayor probably makes more difference in our lives than do the statewide or national elections over which many of us waste so much time obsessing. Streets, sidewalks, zoning, taxes, community events, and parks — for now at least we can exercise some genuine control over these things, and it is these matters, not the ones debated in Washington or Annapolis, that form the fabric of our daily lives. Sometimes you get the sense that folks in town have become complacent about its decline and forgetful of what we share, but earlier this week, when it seemed as if every second or third house had put out a sign making its allegiance known, the view down Main Street recalled us to the life of our polis, with its front stoop handshakes, potluck dinners, and candidates debating at the fire station — a small town deciding its destiny free from the distortions of the talking heads and cable news.
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