The 2016 Presidential Election is distracting you from very important issues that more directly affect you and your family. The first Presidential Primaries are not even until February, and there are good odds you are not in any of those states.
The elections that you really do need to be paying attention to will be this November. So few of us even notice off-year elections, but these have a much greater impact on our personal lives than who is the next President.
These elections are primarily to elect officials at the municipal level:
- School Boards
- Township Supervisors
- Tax Collectors
We have all heard the saying “charity starts at home.” It is the idea that you should help family and friends before helping others. Well, I’m here to tell you, politics needs to start at home (or your hometown) as well. Local property taxes can put you out of your home and on the street faster than anything the President is going to do or not do.
In the United States, local government is a colossus. Our local agencies account for almost a tenth of the gross domestic product, and collect almost as much in taxes as the United States federal government. It is without a doubt, the decisions made by local officials have an tremendous influence and impact on our personal lives.
However, when we look at local elections, especially in smaller towns, suburbs and rural communities, we see almost complete apathy. Local Primary Elections are notorious for having extremely low turnout, with few or no voter options, and are many times tightly controlled by the local political establishment (or good ol’ boy network).
In some areas, especially those that are more rural with lower populations, the local General Election is just a technicality. These elections are often not about ideology, but more about the elected official’s personal connections within the local political class and business network. All too often, we can see these officials work in the best interest of their buddies rather than the whole community.
Think about all the things local government controls:
- Public Schools
- Public Transit
- Water and Sewage
- Police and Fire Departments
- Zoning and Building Codes
- Parks and Recreation
- Trash Removal
- Local Road and Bridge Repair
Local elections are key for providing public accountability. It gives voters the ability to oust officials who have not worked in the best interest of the whole community. Local elected officials need to be held accountable for their performance in spending taxpayers’ money, on their priorities, and how they have address community issues.
Why would you not pay attention to something so important? If you really want your voice heard, you must participate in local elections. Think about all the times you had a complaint about school district performance, or some absurd local ordinance, or your property taxes going up faster than your paycheck.
Very little of what is happening in your everyday life is affected by the outcome of Presidential Politics. If you want real change that affects you directly, it is time to start getting involved in local elections and holding local officials accountable.
Of course, I’m not saying the Presidential Election is not important, but it is more than a year away. The first Primary is not until February 1st, and the Super Tuesday Elections are not until March 1st. We should use the next few weeks to understand what is going on our local election. Presidential politics will still be there on November 4th.