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I, like most, started paying attention to the national political scene long before I knew anything about my local politics.  This seems to often be the case, and many people interested in, or even obsessed by, national politics know little to nothing about local politics.

We may know our state governor, maybe our house leader, but in general, we don't know our state representatives and are absolutely clueless about who our county council is.  This is actually funny because you probably run into the latter on a regular basis without even knowing it.

But I have come to the conclusion that this is the equivalent of trickle-down politics, that obsessing about big leaders is in a sense elitist, celebrity-obsessed, when good local politics leads to all the real, local ramifications we need. And as with politics, trickle down doesn't work. What works is "fertilize up".

I've also come to the conclusion that if you don't agree I'll leave forever and you won't have me to kick around anymore.

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I think it would be far better if political interest were to always start locally.  It would be superior to know your local councils and mayors and not be able to answer who the president was, than vice versa.

It is the local government that has the most impact on you. Consider: the police work for the county and the city.  The county and city decide if you have access to this beach, that formerly public land, and where you can recreate, hunt, work.  What developments are built and what service they will have to perform for the community.

Healthcare?  Counties build clinics. Education also is tremendously subject to the whims of these local leaders.

Also, it's fun, you wouldn't believe the nutty characters that have these jobs, nor the well known skeletons that miraculously don't sink their careers.  It's a lot more interesting than you might think if you have a sense of humor about the political animal.

Further, you have access to these people, you can meet them, get to know them, and the people that have known them all their lives in many cases.

In the last few years of focusing locally I have been involved in getting a public financing trial program for our county offices, which is the first use ever made of the voluntarily provided ($2 check box on state tax forms) funds which have been accruing without a program to use them for decades in this and many other states.

Then recently, my gf, who was crucial to that work, got a job as campaign manager for a publicly financed county council candidate. The candidate had a ridiculous amount of money because the amount is pegged at the average of what was spent the previous cycle, and it happens that she's running against a guy that spent $70,000 unseating a long time council member whereas usually these campaigns cost from $500-$10000, with the latter being a rather rare maximum. The job, by the way, pays about $35K/yr.

The hope was to drive the incumbent into the runnoff. The main county election is held during the primary, but if the top candidate does not get over 50%, the general is used as a runnoff for the top two.  We did that and one better, she actually won the plurality and the incumbent is now running catch up.  He even had to break from his position of not talking to either of the two papers in our county (I told you they were interesting nuts, can you imagine?!).

There is nearly no day-to-day issue that a local county or city official cannot address positively in a much shorter time period than getting a good president and waiting for it to trickle down can.

So, that is my case for local politics.

Basically, if you don't know who's on your county council, then perhaps you are not interested in politics so much, but something else. I've been there so it's not a criticism, I know your interest is genuine, I'm saying you have been distracted, that knowing national politics gives you a larger group of people to discuss your political ideas with due to the binding tie of celebrity.

My advice is to know who is on your city council before you invest so much of yourself in what is largely a distraction. Don't get me wrong, I want people to be just as involved as ever helping the big candidates, for one, to slow them down and check them, but if you ignore the local scene, you are to a degree, fooling yourself about politics that matter.

And if you can't see that... well then I'm going to leave the site forever and never ever come back even if you ask real nice (which I'm sure you will).

Originally posted to GBCW on Sat Oct 09, 2010 at 12:52 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    ... or I'll leave forever and never come back (and you'll be sorry).

    by GBCW on Sat Oct 09, 2010 at 12:52:50 PM PDT

  •  I volunteer for local candidates now (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loonesta, yinn, GBCW

    Like you I was more interested in national politics. That was before I volunteered to be a Precinct Officer for my neighborhood. The district Party Chairman told me the first time I met him that I would "get local", and slowly I did.

    There is a desire among some politicians to keep civic activity to a minimum in order to do what they do in secret. Just look at Bell, CA. Stuff like that won't happen here, too many eyeballs.

  •  I, too, am spending more time (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loonesta, yinn

    on local issues and local political races.

    I see too little difference between our two major parties which have a stranglehold on the federal political system and politics as usual.

    It is more satisfying to me to help locally. Sometimes I don't even know if the person running for county/local office is a democrat or a republican...but I know them, their work and have reasonable expectations of what they will actually do and I know what they have done.

    I also know their phone numbers. :-)

  •  It's not either or. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loonesta

    Local politics are our last line of defense. There are liberal enclaves of freedom in the reddest states. This is because people there pay attention to the local races. If the country moves to the right, paying attention to state races can keep your state liberal. If your state is conservatives, paying attention to county and city races can keep your community liberal.

    Don't overlook the races on the bottom of the ticket! The GOP uses these races to cultivate the next generation of Republican candidates. The wingnuts will run a stealth campaign to get someone onto the school board, for example. If the wingnut gets on the school board, they will undermine the schools, and work to undermine the whole community. Also, if they get on the school board, that's one step closer to higher office. Stop them there, and you can stop the next Michelle Bachmann.

    We don't have to choose between focusing on local or national offices. Having our last line of defense at the local level is great, but if we don't have to fall back so far, so much the better.

    The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

    by A Citizen on Sat Oct 09, 2010 at 02:13:41 PM PDT

  •  Good diary...and don't forget other local (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loonesta, GBCW

    offices like county executives, commissioners and prosecutors. They appreciate ANY help that someone can give, since the campaigns are usually run by a few people. You can have a real impact if you get involved!

    Also, state reps and Senators. They have relatively small districts so help out.

  •  School Boards are vital...The religious right has (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loonesta

    long recognized this.

    "...fighting the wildfires of my life with squirt guns."

    by deMemedeMedia on Sat Oct 09, 2010 at 03:57:15 PM PDT

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