Don’t ignore local races in election
It’s sad. Every presidential election year when I have worked on a campaign, the contest for the White House garners most of the money and attention, while all the down-ballot races are an afterthought or simply ignored.
The foundational adage of all politics, or "politickin’" if you are from the South like me, is the phrase "all politics is local." Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil read this in the book Homestyle and has been passing it off as his own quip ever since.
Well, that bit of wisdom is true. I have worked on and volunteered with city council, mayoral, congressional and senatorial races here and back home in Louisiana, and one constant is that people seem to forget or are ignorant of how important and how strongly we are affected in our everyday lives by the elected officials we seem to care the least about in a presidential election year.
So, I will break it down for those of you who aren’t aware of exactly how government works. If you want to know who fixes potholes, street signs and lights or trees down in the road, you will be sending an e-mail or making a phone call to your city councilman or even the mayor.
If you want a road or a bridge built you will have to give a shout out to your congressman, senator or your governor. Where does the president fit in with all of this? Yes, he helps to push for better infrastructure, he signs economic bailout legislation into law and does other big things that happen once in a while.
However, day in day out you are more than likely going to encounter and have to deal with your local elected officials and local government agencies to get zoning permits, business licenses or even a pay raise if you are a teacher or police officer.
Progress and change are things that happen on the grassroots level, and change, for those who are fans of states’ rights, should and must come from the states. I can assure you we Louisianans resent the federal government telling us what to do.
My advice to you when a block walker, telephone canvasser or even an advertisement with an unfamiliar candidate comes on the television: don’t ignore them or constantly tell them you are voting for Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. John McCain, when that isn’t even the race they are promoting.
Instead, learn about your local races on the state level, as they affect†your lifestyle, the roads you drive on and whether you have a pornography store across the street from your house.
For those of you who refuse to get to know those who govern you, I ask you to heed the words of Plato: "One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors."
As for those of you who do not vote, please hear me when I ask you to close your mouth and stop complaining, as you have already shown everyone that you don’t deserve to voice your opinion on the matter.
Delano, a political science and history senior, can be reached via [email protected]