We political junkies usually ignore local politics. That is a mistake.
Trying To Influence National Politics
National politics seem more interesting. Our federal government deals with the big issues war and peace; controlling climate change; reducing income inequality, and much more are national in scope.
Resolving conflicts over these issues can determine life and death, and the health of society. Of course, these decisions are interesting and important.
The problems are
- Major national issues are never resolved. It may seem that the latest healthcare vote will determine policy forever. It won’t. In another year, 5 or 10 years, generation, the issue will reemerge. New policy will emerge. That will then seem the most important healthcare debate ever. Again, it won’t be.
- The United States is large. It’s political system is complex. The possibility that a single person or small group can influence it is small.
- Federal government policies seldom affect you immediately or directly.
Trying to Influence Local Politics
But local governments, city, county. school district and more, affect our daily lives.
- If your child has a problem in school, talk to her teacher and others at her school first. And, if that does not resolve the problem, talk to people at your school board. Calling D.C. is useless.
- If the road near your house is in bad repair, contact the city or county. Washington can’t help.
- If rents are so high that you can’t afford to live in the city anymore, contact city officials. They set zoning requirements. They create and enforce the conditions a builder must meet to get a building permit. Washington has no say.
These are issues we confront every day. These are issues that we and others complain about. But few of us organize to change them. Local organizations exist that advocate for solutions to homelessness, high rents, problems they identify in public schools, and more.
But usually these organizations work with shoestring budgets, inadequate staffs, and a few volunteers. Perhaps Oregon Nasty Women could identify a local issue, find an organization trying to address it, and support that group with volunteers. That might be a way to be activists and see results.
I would never suggest ignoring national politics. We must all pay attention to the health and survival of our nation. The big issues affect us and future generations
We might do well, though, to pay more attention to politics that affect us daily. They are also the politics have a measurable effect on.