At first glance, Scotland’s recent referendum on independence may have little in common with the discussion on these pages about Washington’s town charter. But therein lies a cautionary tale.
Ultimately, the residents of Scotland voted not to break with what many saw as a too-alien, too-powerful and too-monied Westminster. That said, the vote has left a legacy of discomfort — some might say bitterness — on both sides.
Nothing about the Union that was and is the United Kingdom will ever be the same again. Perhaps in time it will be better, and indeed more inclusive, but for now the corrosive power of “Them and Us” has seeped deep into the fabric of society, distorting and stunting personal relationships. Be careful what you wish for.
Rappahannock is an extraordinary county — a union of sorts of its own. Washington is not its Westminster, but reading these pages one might be forgiven for feeling that bitterness is fast becoming its prevailing sentiment. Once that guest is invited in, he will not leave willingly or easily.
The town of Washington just had an election. The council was reelected unopposed. There was ample opportunity for a write-in candidate or candidates, if that had been what the residents of the town had wanted. After all, we know they have chosen that route before. There will be opportunity for another election in four years. That’s the way democracy works.
Alex Salmond, that extraordinary leader of the Scottish independence movement, has recognized this democratic process — though its outcome brought him no joy, only personal defeat — and he has moved on. We should too.