Washington politics are on fire, again, in this age of accelerated hate-spew and wedge-driving, arch-nemeses waging war with nothing at stake but our shared future. And that doesn’t often really work out for us, y’know what I mean? Because national politics works on its own illogic, and not so much with an eye toward our corner of Pennsylvania. But the thing about local politics is that they’re built around neighborhoods and neighbors, about the person you see at the grocery store, and the person who goes to school with your kids, and the person you see at religious services, and the person you play golf with, and the person rooting for the next high school over, and the person behind you on the road as you drive to the hospital to see an ailing friend, and that ailing friend and the doctor who cares for that friend and so forth until you have a community full of people who know each other and are in this together.
Thus I’m thinking locally today for two reasons:
- I am legit stoked about the bevy of Democratic candidates who are stepping forward, stepping up, and stepping out to make a difference. Please, check out the slates where you live, in Crawford and Erie counties. Right now, candidates in our hometowns are gearing up for a couple of months of important primary campaigning, to be followed by absolutely crucial November municipal elections. The decisions that our city councilors and county commissioners and township supervisors make, well those are the decisions that affect us each and every day. These candidates want something different around here, and I’m excited about the prospects.
- National political ideology trickles down (such an ugly term; always has been). I’m thinking about how we wind up, even in our local elections, having arguments about the muppets we love and loathe who fill the nightly political news. As we all know, national politics are built on divisiveness. Separate ’em into teams, get people to really love their team and, more importantly, despise the other team with unabated fire and venom. And never, ever, ever vote for the other team, even when one team seems to be held hostage by the worst version of itself.
We’re in this together, is what I’m saying, and the divisiveness of team-based politics never, ever lets us be together. And y’know what else I see? That national divisiveness has for quite a long time indeed been built on actual policies that leave us out of the picture, together. All of us. I’m saying we all get a raw deal in Northwestern PA, have for a long time. Yet the national politics, and the ideology that has trickled down to our state representation and even to our local councils and boards, does the same thing. It spins the same old treacle that wants us to suffer, literally and figuratively. Our economic difficulty, well that’s not exactly a mistake or a flaw in the system. It is the system, the one that repetition of the same old same old politics ensures will never change.
Together, we can bust that system. Together, we can ignore the self-sabotage of the team-based ethos and, instead, recognize that what we love about our home is also what we love about each other is also what we can love about the different relationship we can have to our schools, our health, and our environment. We don’t have to accept the same old sermons of scarcity, the limited-horizon views of what jobs we can have, the fatalistic economics of how-will-we-pay-for-it, the small-minded cracks our elected officials make at neighbors who suffer because they lost work, or because they’ve been felled by addiction, or because they want to pursue education that edifies the mind and soul instead of serves the corporate machine that wants, always, to tell us who we can be and what we should dream. Yeah, we can bust that.
It starts locally, is what I’m saying. It starts now, in our 2019 elections, has started already in the minds of the candidates out there who are already dreaming differently about our neck of the woods. And it stays local into 2020, when we get to make choices about who represents us in Harrisburg (how about me!?) and in Washington. Let’s keep it local, promise each other that we’re more interested in our community than in whatever party line gets spun out as a way to keep the corporate state empowered and the people not so much. We can change that conversation, and we can thrive together.