There is a classic quote about politics. The late Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local.” Despite this brilliant quote, local politics are generally ignored or minimized. Yet issues that local government handles, have a great impact on everyday life.
People tend to focus on politicians and issues on a national level. That is what you see all over social media. Political parties support and help build national candidates and ignore municipal candidates. The resources of the national political parties do not go down to local candidates. Nor do the major political parties pay much attention to local candidates.
Part of the issue is that local politics is connecting to individual voters. National parties want to tailor messages to reach a wide array of voters. The one on one meetings are something that national parties want to avoid since their feeling is that it is too expensive for them. Instead the focus turns to larger issues that the media also focuses on. This allows marketing to go to a larger cross section of voters. The voters, in turn, see these issues and focus on them also. The parties help to create the focus on issues that will enable them to attract voters on a large scale.
What do people deal with daily on a local level? How about potholes? Potholes can impact a person in a number of ways. The pothole could destroy a tire adding an unexpected expense or maybe it is more insidious. It could just put your car out of alignment causing faster wear on your tires and lower gas mileage. This can have an impact on your budget. So should that be a focus when people go to vote. Should they look for a candidate that puts road maintenance as a priority? What about local education, rubbish removal, snow plowing and more? This does not even include the importance of police and fire protection that municipalities are responsible for in most cases. These are important issues that deserve attention. When people see piles of garbage in a neighboring lot, they don’t call their U.S. Senator, they call their city or town council person. So it seems important that these are important positions that require important and serious people.
Decisions made in town halls have an impact on people’s lives. Not just city and town employees but the people living on Elm Street. The local elected officials deal with multi million dollar budgets and contracts yet on election day they tend to be an afterthought in the whole electoral process. The local level is where governing happens, decisions are made and lives are impacted. This is also where your elected officials are the most accessible and relatable, you’ll see them at the supermarket or the baseball field. What affects you will be affecting them also. It is time that people and the political parties take interest in local politics, it is in their best interests.