Local Politickin’

There’s an episode early on in “House of Cards” where Congressman Frank Underwood is pulled home to Gaffney, South Carolina to deal with a local dispute over the “Big, Stupid Peach.” Underwood was cranky and mocking the whole time, and really only went because the peach became a controversy. It’s easy to conclude that local politics are small, Petty, and insignificant- and sometimes they are. It’s really hard to make a living running these races, particularly when you factor in the headaches. It wouldn’t be wise to dismiss them like Underwood though.

Local politics are far more important to your life than anything going on at the White House, as we need to remind our angriest activists pretty much every day. The people making zoning and planning decisions in your town are deciding quite literally what your town looks like. Your county government is overseeing tens of millions of dollars on “human services,” which is a fancy way of saying seniors, children, battered women, open green space, the poor, and those who generally need a government. Your roads, the pot holes, the bridges- they were all fixed by local government, or not. Your criminal justice system is administered entirely by local officials- the local police by municipal officials, a local district attorney prosecuting crimes, and local judges overseeing the trial. Your life is not planned and overseen by Washington politicians, but by the local folks making decisions.

Local politics are frustrating though, because they’re as unprofessional as it gets. Activists aren’t interested in staying on message or being strategic. Candidates never get the urgency of raising money and putting together their campaign. Local party leaders are not like dealing with DC and statewide leaders.

It’s important to not ignore local politics though, however frustrating it gets. There’s important elections going on in 2019, long before the Iowa Caucus. Don’t forget all about them to worry about things happening far away from you.

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