Friday, October 28, 2011

Politics Are Local

While there is no question that the #Occupy movement has touched a nerve, and completely flipped the script on the national conversation (HT Levees Not War), it must transform into direct electoral and decision-making participation before it can deliver on the policies it advocates or affect the positive change it claims to desire. Though there are some positive signs that this is in fact happening, plenty of caution must still be applied until it produces demonstrable results.

My examples today come from Georgia, made a de facto one-party state by the abandonment of the national Democratic Party at the same time the GOP focused their efforts on controlling or coopting all local and statewide political machinery. It is there they have created a strong base for right wing ideas, and near total political dominance of culture.

Because of that, the President's approval rate in the Peach State is down around 38%. While this is a better number than it should be for a state as dominated as it is by the GOP, this is down from the 47% of Georgia voters he took to the polls in 2008. The lack of consistent and organized community political involvement on the Democratic side of the ledger has absolutely removed Georgia from a toss-up state to that of a "solid-GOP" state. That is just one way local involvement affects national policy in big ways.

Jay Bookman also points out how the GOP knows the 2012 election will turn on the involvement of their local groups, the Tea Party and right-wing organizations will be vital to elect any Republican to the Presidency. But notice the attention also paid to down-ticket elections. As in: if the GOP nominates someone who doesn't inspire folks on the local levels, it will directly affect control of the United States Senate.

I think about that whenever someone tells me that "the people" can't do anything at a local level to affect national policy.

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