A reader asked why I havent written much about the election. How can I, as a supporter of the public sector, not engage in what is being considered one of the greatest elections in our history?
The reason is simple: I care more about local politics. Our political system is so complex and so decentralized and our country so diverse that local politics often have a greater bearing than national ones. This is not to say the selecting the next Commander-In-Chief is not an issue to take seriously. However, the amount of importance people put on the presidency eclipses the changes of power that happen every day in your city.
My passion rests with issues like education and affordable housing. So when both candidates in the last debate argued in support for charter schools, I wondered if they realized that charter schools do not out perform regular public schools, so more is needed than just their existence. Additionally, the government’s attempts at addressing educational equality in the form of headstart and NCLB have been failures. The only people who know this are the people are living it on the ground floor.
I get angry when I see low-income housing not because I hate people who are poor but because I wonder if politicians realize that concentrating poverty only exacerbates its problematic effects. Sure, the creation of low income housing is wonderful, but its location has even greater economic and social consequences, especially when we acknowledge that black neighborhoods tend to shoulder a greater share of low income housing. And once again, only those engaging with this regularly can best express what is happening.
So I turn to my local congressmen and local government employees. I expressed outrage at Bloomberg’s antics because quite frankly he has more say in the running of our city than the president.
However, if there is one thing this financial crisis has done is it has demanded that we pay attention to how our federal government operates. Jumping in to save Wall Street we have had to look closely at who does what in what branches and surprisingly it’s the appointed and hired employees who do more than the elected officials.
So go vote, but keep an eye out on what happens locally and hold your local officials just as accountable as you hold the president.