Most choices for government, such as an option between Policy Choice A or Policy Choice B, involve choices of ordinary outcomes. One option may be more efficient than the other, or one more aesthetically pleasing than an alternative, but either would be considered a normal, reasonable policy outcome.
Preferences of the Right or Left, of Republican or Democrat, especially for local government, are mostly like this: people may prefer one outcome over another, but few think a community’s future will be damaged significantly and irremediably with the selection of either Choice A or Choice B.
In a well-ordered local politics, there should be few – if any – choices that are not like choices between A and B.
A policy choice that leads one to a wrong outcome – that is an outcome that’s unethical or injurious – should be almost unknown to a community.
There are dozens of ways to build a park, or design a public market, and not one of these would be wrong, not one that would be unethical or gravely injurious.
Most actions of Whitewater’s city government, school district, or university are like the ordinary choices between A and B : perhaps offering advantages one way or another but involving nothing of ethics or injury.
Sadly, there are a small number of policy actions in Whitewater that are extraordinary, and simply wrong. We should not have any; an inferior local politics, beneath the standard that an American community deserves, afflicts us.
Some few actions start out conventionally, but descend into the wrong through exaggeration that becomes mendacity. Whitewater’s town squires have the habit of boosting the town in ways that begin as ordinary (if poorly expressed) public relations, slip into unjustified boasting, and end as outright lies.
There is a second, small class of actions that are, truly, far worse. In this small class, actions begin with indifference to individuals, often with an insistence that the reputations of institutions matter more than the lives of their ordinary members. Whitewater’s worst leaders have an act utilitarianism in them. (These leaders justify their actions as an institutional defense, but that defense against individual rights is objectionable as made, and mostly an effort at their own self-interest in any event.)
Like most communities, we have mostly conventional choices before us. Sadly, unlike many communities, we have some policymakers who have slipped beneath the conventional, into actions that are both unethical and gravely injurious.
Most policy choices are conventional; a few are far less, and far worse, than that.
Those few are simply wrong.