The other day, someone was telling me how happy they were with Trump’s first month in office. When asked what they liked, they said he was getting a lot done, making some real changes. When asked what change they liked best and how it was affecting their daily life, they couldn’t name anything specific.
When this same person was asked what they thought of a recent bill being sponsored by their state representative, they were completely unaware that the event had even taken place. They didn’t even recognize their own representative’s name.
The point here is that if we watch the news or nearly any kind of media for that matter, we tend to develop a Washington D.C.-centric way of thinking. Every day the media narrative of what’s going on inside the White House or on Capitol Hill affects our attitude, our way of thinking, and even our relationships.
The media is constantly directing our attention to the national news while the local happenings go largely unnoticed. The truth is, what happens in the national government of D.C. affects our lives, however not nearly as much or as immediately as local government in “Smalltown, USA”. But you’d never know this from watching CNN, FOX, or ABC as they cover in detail Kellyanne Conway putting her feet on the couch in the Oval Office.
There has long been a push in Congress to add “gender identity and sexual preference” as a new, special protected class when it comes to workplace discrimination. However, these efforts have met with stiff resistance and have never come to fruition on a national level. However over 255 cities and counties, as well as 20 states, currently prohibit discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation and gender identity” for both public and private employees. Those focusing exclusively on the war in D.C. completely missed the battles being waged across the rest of the country from states, to counties, to municipalities.
We see this happen nearly everyday. The Los Angeles recently approved a resolution that would ban people from sleeping in their own cars. Seattle just passed more burdensome regulations on local businesses. A new law just went into effect in California banning drivers from doing anything more than a “single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger”. Ordinances banning or allowing smoking happen almost exclusively on the state and local level, as do minimum wage laws. Most of the time sanctuary cities are sanctuary cities because of local city councils saying it is so.
The taxes, fees, regulations, rules, and laws that affect you everyday are overwhelmingly a result of state and local politics, not an executive order from Donald Trump. This should not be taken to mean that we can ignore the goings on in Washington D.C. Rather we must keep a watchful eye on all levels of government.
“Let the national government be entrusted with the defense of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward [township] direct the interests within itself.
It is by dividing and subdividing these republics, from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man’s farm by himself; by placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best.”
Ben Franklin told us we had “…a Republic, if you can keep it.” Whether we keep it or not depends on each of us truly believing that “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” While that vigilance must include keeping an eye on D.C., it cannot, should not stop there. Your city council needs as much accountability (a possibly more) than your national representatives.