Perhaps because I was, at one time, a candidate for the office of President of the United States (I was the Constitution Party’s nominee in 2004) I am frequently, during presidential campaign years, asked for my opinion not only of the candidates who are contending, but also on the nature of the race itself.
And when the presidential campaign season gets into full swing, it’s almost impossible NOT to get blown over by all the hype, bravado and bluster that is part and parcel of this particular part of the political cycle.
And I think you might agree that this seems to be especially true this time around in that the current campaign has included (without mentioning names) threats of criminal indictment, demeaning personal attacks which seem every day to reach a new low, insulting references to some candidates spouses, and blatant, unvarnished support of wealth redistribution policies.
Witnessing all of this can leave one feeling a little helpless and desperate when contemplating the future of the republic. Sometimes it seems like things are spiraling hopelessly out of control. Worse still, it seems like there is nothing that the average person can do about it.
Do not despair. I believe that there is definitely something that you can do about it.
Let me explain.
I believe that the answer to the great frustration that we feel is to refocus our priorities to more local matters over which it is eminently possible to have some measure of input and control.
Here are a few suggestions:
First, learn everything you can about your local government. This might take a little time and it will mean shifting the focus of your political vision from the national to the local scene. Regrettably, most people know a great deal of (useless?) information about Obama or Pelosi or Reed or Ryan, and yet couldn’t even tell you the name of their County Councilman or even County Executive. Essentially, this needs to be reversed.
I’m not saying that you should never read any national headlines, but I am suggesting that you direct your focus, attention and your available resources on learning the local lay of the land. For example, you should know your local elected officials names, backgrounds, beliefs, values. You should be familiar with their career histories and their voting records.
Moreover, you should have a working knowledge of the structure of your local government. For example, you should learn the schedules of all relevant board and commission meetings. And you should attend the ones that are of interest to you.
In this information age, there is a remarkable amount of publicly available information including meetings, agendas, budgets, revenues, expenditures, contracts, projects, rezoning efforts, constitutions and charters. One place you can get started is through the website I publish (PeroutkaTownHall.com), where you will find links to our County Charter, the county code, pending legislation that is currently being considered by the Council, and voting records for all previous legislation. On this site you will also find my analysis of many of the important pieces of legislation this term.
As you gain local knowledge, you might be inspired to get involved in a number of ways. Perhaps you will start your own blog and begin to share what you are learning with others.
You might consider brushing up on your knowledge of the US and the Maryland Constitutions. In addition to my Council duties I still teach (as a volunteer) about the Constitution and American and Maryland history for the Institute on the Constitution (www.TheAmericanView.com). There are also other national groups such as Hillsdale College which also offer such courses and information online.
So rather than let the national coverage of a national campaign over which you have no input or control drive you crazy, consider making a better choice which may just make a difference.
Don’t go crazy – go local. You’ll feel better.