Politics & Me, A Love Story

I hate politics. It’s the third rail of dinner parties and family gatherings and tailgating. It makes for an interesting time at the bar, though, but I digress.

That is to say, I love politics but I hate the emotion people choose to assign to politics.

Like DNA, most people share 99% of the same political beliefs. We argue and debate the 1% of the iceberg we choose to see.

“Wait,” you say. “Paul, you’re insane. We argue any number of issues on TV and on line and in coffee shops and at my Walmart.”

But we don’t. At least not in America.

The most immediately impacting politics are local – town councils and selectmen and local government. These are the folks responsible for snow removal, trash pickup, local ordinances, and the things that will impact you today or next week. Few people bother to know what’s happening in these chambers let alone know who is doing the deciding.

Don’t forget that there’s probably a separately elected school board. The local prosecutor is elected as are a bunch of other offices like sheriff and the water board.

Maybe you’re in a state with county government, which many do. That’s another government making laws and ordinances that have a direct immediate impact on every American’s life. Most do not know that they have a county government let alone pay attention to what it does.

Unless you live in a major city with a robust press, you have to find out what these folks are doing.

Which brings us to the state. This is where the press starts to pay attention and things get competitive. Public radio and some non-profits probably cover state politics, but the press rarely does.

All the attention goes to the federal, which is sad. Anything they do takes time to implement and even longer to measure the effectiveness one way or another. And to change or reverse something? It’s easier to fight tide – because of emotion.

And at the federal level they debate and potentially pass about %1 of U.S. law and ordinances. How? They compete against 50 states and a bunch of extra-territorial possessions and thousands of county and local governments.

As we approach Election Day in the U.S., let’s remember that the United States are made up of 50 independent entities that chose to join a federal model to address common concerns like defense, welfare, international relations, and interstate commerce.

How your drinking water is handled or what your kids are taught in school typically happen further down the stack.

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