The Scoop On Local Politics

by Nicole Newman

City-Hall

Local choices impact national policies.

In 2008, “Change we can believe in” was the slogan of Barack Obama’s campaign. It encompassed all of what we hoped for in the future of our country. It was sexy and it was easy to get caught up in the romance of it all. Politics suddenly became something millennials and middle-class Americans could be involved in, put our time and energy behind and believe in. We each became political experts, willing to lend our opinions and ideas to national issues. Thank you, Mr. President.

But what about our local issues?

Yes, the role for national politics is important one. It provides a broad based agenda and sets the tone for what happens in our localities, but often what we miss is the importance of local politics. What happens locally matters because it often has an impact on us directly. It becomes the space we can test out large scale change. Local choices impact national policies.

Around your ‘hood

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Trash not getting picked up? That’s a local issue not a national problem.

From trash pickup, to housing policy to what happens with the money from the speed trap camera ticket you just got, decisions made by local politicians and legislatures have real ramifications for everyday life. It is where we can see how political choices and policy priorities influences many different aspects of our lives.

Schools, money and city planning

Local politics also becomes the place where we can see what works and doesn’t.

Charter schools or no charter schools?
Charter schools or no charter schools?

From charter schools operation in cities, to neighborhood development plans, local politics often sets the tone for what the conversation will be nationally. How federal grant dollars are allocated and distributed is often decided by local governments.

Don’t get me wrong, all politics matter. Casting a ballot is a critical exercise of democratic participation. However, voting is the easy part. It should not be the beginning and end of an individual’s political activism. For anyone who cares about the direction of the country, city or state they are in, engagement in not just the national but also the local, political process should be a lifetime commitment.

Get hooked on your local politics:
– Google [your city name] + Local politics
– Check out the city section of any national paper
– Pick up those free newspapers on your way into work on the Metro(DC) or the  Subway (NYC)
– Watch your local 5pm and/ or 11pm news

Don’t leave out the place where the rubber meets the road.

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