Pundits like to invoke the axiom, “All politics is local.” They preach the importance of local action but rarely go beyond platitudes to explain real reasons why being active locally matters. Here are five important reasons why you should focus your attention at the state and local level.
State and local governments account for nearly 50 percent of all government spending: During the 2009 fiscal year (the last year with complete data) those entities brought in $2.4 trillion in revenue! While all that was happening, state and local governments managed to dig themselves deeper into debt, totaling $2.7 trillion (61 percent of that is held by local governments).
State and local governments are doing just as poor of a job as the federal government when it comes to mortgaging our futures, yet most people pay no attention to what’s happening at the state capitol or at city hall.
You have more choice in which causes and candidates to fight for: Did you know that there are nearly 90,000 state and local governing bodies in the United States? In order to run those governments, Americans elect tens of thousands of representatives each year for positions ranging from school board to state senate.
Additionally, there are often ballot initiatives and bond issues on the ballot with price tags reaching into the tens of millions. This gives you many options when choosing where to focus your efforts.
You can take on more responsibility: Not many people enjoy taking out the trash or manually entering data, but that’s where a lot of volunteers start out with big campaigns. If you want to step into a more important job then start local.
With a little work and passion you may quickly find yourself in the campaigns inner circle.
You can change the election’s outcome: State and local elections can come down to razor thin margins. Every year there are many elections that come down to vote differences in the single and double digits! You will never change the outcome of a presidential race by volunteering and voting for your favorite candidate, but it’s entirely possible to be the deciding factor in a race closer to home.
You could even be the candidate: The poor decisions of past generations mean that you were born thousands of dollars in debt. You owe it to yourself and future generations to work towards reversing this plague. Most people stop at volunteering for campaigns and candidates, but if you’re old enough to vote then you could qualify to run for local or state office.
Elected officials aren’t a special breed. What sets them apart is their willingness to put their name on a ballot and fight for something. In too many cases they’re just fighting for the wrong things.