Are you fed up with national politics? Sad your candidate lost? Just sick of the whole thing? Here’s 5 reasons to turn your eyes local.
1. You can become an expert
Issues in national politics can be extremely complicated. Wonks and academics spend lifetimes studying things like healthcare or foreign policy, while partisans spend lifetimes reframing them. There is a learning curve to local politics as well but many people who have no background become fluent quickly and many issues don’t require a ton of expertise. In Austin, we have the fortune of dedicated media covering City Hall, like the Austin Monitor, the Statesman’s City Hall Blog, and the City-County section of the Community Impact newspapers. Similar resources exist in other cities.
2. Meet your neighbors
Getting involved in politics is a good way to make new friends who care about the same things as you. Getting involved in local politics is a great way to make nearby friends. Even when you disagree with folks on issues, you often find out that you share a lot in common.
3. Many races are non-partisan
If you’re sick of politicians from two parties reflexively believing whatever everybody else in their party believes, local politicians have way more leeway to come up with third, fourth, and fifth options. Real problem-solving takes place with ordinary citizens sitting around a table talking about real issues. As parties are weak at the local level, many problems don’t come with preordained solutions.
4. Many similar issues are at play, but with more nuance
At the national level, issues like growing economic inequality loom over the political system, but with considerable disagreement over what might address them. In local politics, organizations like Desegregate ATX argue that local governments implement their own form of inequality through laws that make it more expensive to build housing.
5. You can make a difference
The biggest, most important reason to get involved in local politics: you matter. The number of donors, activists, and voters in local elections is tiny, both in raw terms and percentage terms. Your voice, your volunteer time, and your campaign donations matter. Organize 50 people for a presidential rally and you have a poorly-attended rally for media to laugh at; organize 50 people for a local organization and you have a powerful force for Council Members to pay attention to.
So if change is what you want, turn your eyes local, get out there, and make it happen!