THE U.S. MADE IT THROUGH THE RE; publican and Democratic national conventions, and we are meandering toward the November elections. It
seems like this has been going on forever.
Canada and Mexico somehow wrap up
their entire election cycles in 90 days. The
U.K. limits campaigning to the calendar
years of elections. Ours is more like three
years, 265 days; we take off 100 days for the
inauguration. The effect is a white noise
of daily political news. There hasn’t been
a substantive change to the candidates’
platforms in … forever.
That’s my rant on the presidential election — I offer no solutions. But back on
topic. Former Speaker of the House Tip
O’Neill, D-Mass., offered an adage during
a campaign that “all politics is local.” As we
decide whose name to put the X next to,
I think it is wise to remember that phrase.
Some of my friends are tempted to not
vote at all. I remind them that they lose
their franchise to complain if they take the
chicken’s way out and don’t make a choice.
For my business and to a large degree
my personal life, a politician’s effect on
me correlates directly to his or her proximity to my town. My mayor, county
commission and school board affect my
daily life more than the U.S. president
does. Ninety percent of property tax
rates for businesses and homes come
from local decisions. So do sales tax
rates, zoning decisions and how garbage
is collected and streets are plowed. All
regulations in the petroleum equipment world are interpreted, created
and enforced at state level. As are state
income tax rates, workers comp rules,
minimum wage and union rights.
Other than declaration of war, what
does that leave for Washington, D.C.?
Well, plenty. The three branches of
federal government are important. But
at that level, the debates and passing of
laws are glacially slow compared with
the rapid reactions of local govern-
ments. Waiting out the relatively short
term of a president is now a key strategy
for the political opposition. Changing the
course of the nation is more akin to turn-
ing an aircraft carrier than a speedboat.
(In this case, that’s a good thing.) And
by the time that course is set, businesses
Back to Tip O’Neill. I’m old enough
to remember when a liberal Democrat
could engage in discourse with Ronald
Reagan and congressional Republicans
to hammer out solutions to the nation’s
problems. That’s gone, but O’Neill was
right about politics being local.
There’s time left before the election
to learn who’s running on local and
state levels. Those candidates and issues
should be enough to get us to the polls.
‘All Politics Is Local’
News and Perspectives
From PEI’s President
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