Not participating has its consequences.

I wrote this on Facebook 8 years ago about a measure to add a new supermarket in the mid island. It’s even more true today.

In a recent survey about the proposed supermarket on Old South Road, I received 368 responses (some people took the survey multiple times, but their duplicate responses were deleted.) And one of the things that struck me was that while hundreds of people on Nantucket have an opinion that is strong and cogent and forceful, only a few people actually commit to going to town meeting to vote the way they feel. Everyone is willing to take a six-question survey, and state in their own words why a Supermarket is a good thing or a bad thing (and some of the arguments for and against are pretty amazing) and they are willing to like a bunch of things on Facebook, share surveys and sign petitions and comment on issues, but when it comes to giving up a Saturday to sit in an auditorium and actually help steer town government, well, that is too hard for the vast majority of islanders. And here’s the thing, folks. The people who commit to going to town meeting — the people who would not miss it for any reason — they (we, really, because I’m one of those people) think (and vote) differently than the rest of you. My survey results show it. When you look at highly committed voters, the results skew wildly in the opposite direction of what most people who took the survey feel. So for those of you who feel that there are people working within the town who are trying to undermine the people’s desires and choices on specific matters, guess what? It’s you.