• Sean Barney

Democracy in the year of COVID

In ordinary times, the July Fourth weekend is a time to congregate and to celebrate together our country and the ideals for which it stands. There will sadly be less congregating this year, but in many ways there has been no more important time than this year to reaffirm the ideals for which those who signed the Declaration of Independence pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

One of those core ideals is our commitment to democracy. Among the many things that makes Delaware special is the extent to which, in ordinary times, our democracy centers around in-person, face-to-face conversations. We expect candidates to knock on our doors and listen to us on our doorsteps or in our living rooms. We anticipate that, if we want to, we will have the opportunity to speak with them at length at a small gathering in the home of one of our close neighbors.

The image above is nostalgically, at this point, from before COVID-19 changed our reality. As much as I would wish to, I cannot responsibly in the middle of a global pandemic run the campaign I would ideally like to run and that, more importantly, you fundamentally deserve. However, with the assistance of technology and with the opportunities that an easing of restrictions has provided, I am going to do my best to replicate what is truly meaningful about what we ordinarily do in Delaware.

Beginning this month, I am going to hold virtual and out-of-doors, socially-distant office hours every other week. Anyone in the district will be able to sign up to join a Zoom meeting with me or meet me at a designated location suitable for social distancing and talk with me about issues in the district. The idea is to create space for the kind of small-group conversation that would ordinarily occur at a meet and greet on your block, hosted in your or one of your neighbors’ homes.

I will also be holding a number of virtual and socially-distant meet and greets over the coming weeks and months. Details are being worked out, but the goal is to have individuals in the Eighth District host meet and greets for their neighbors and friends, as usual, the only difference being that they will be online or at a physical location where appropriate social-distancing is possible.

As someone who decided to run for City Council expecting to talk with all of you on your doorsteps and in your living rooms, the last few months have been extremely frustrating. I want to speak with you because it is what you deserve, but also because it is the only way that I can truly prepare myself to do the job of representing you on City Council. Democracy is at least as much about listening – and generally far more – than it is about talking.

Expect information to be forthcoming from me about the dates and times of the virtual and out-of-doors office hours and the virtual and socially-distant meet and greets. I hope to talk with you soon online or out of doors.

Enjoy the rest of your Fourth of July weekend. May our democracy not only survive but thrive.