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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Big Government

freedomofspeechLocal government is increasingly the place where things are getting done. As the party system has created gridlock in Washington, less is getting accomplished on Capitol Hill.

In a funny way, this has created a situation that is more like the American Founding era than anything we’ve experienced in over a century — the real place to get things done in government is at the local and state levels.

The bad news is that Washington continues to spend, borrow, inflate the currency by printing money, and over-regulate in nearly every facet of modern life. Its growth is slowed by partisan conflicts, but it hasn’t started shrinking. Not by a long shot.

Another piece of bad news is that the national parties and their teams are pushing their agenda even more vigorously at the local levels.

This means that the party controlling the White House will have a much larger budget and ability to promote national goals in each city, county and state.

The good news is that regular people can have more influence and make more of a difference at the local and even state level.

Most citizens have long felt they can’t really do much to improve Washington — the national government is just too big, too far removed, too immune to change. But at the local level it’s a different story.

People who really want to get involved can make a major impact on local government. The key is consistency. Those who keep at it will eventually learn how to be effective, and as they involve their friends and colleagues they can become a real force for good.

This system, with a lot of citizen involvement at the local level, is what the American founding fathers envisioned. In a strange way, it is now becoming more of a reality. As David Brooks wrote in the New York Times,

“The happiest people these days are those who leave Washington and get elected mayor or governor. The most frustrated people are people who were mayor and governor and get elected in the Senate. They end each day knowing they were busy. They’re just not sure they accomplished anything.”

Local government is the new power center, and regular people who want to make a real difference can now do so at levels not seen for over a century.

Get involved. It’s unclear how long this new reality will last, but for now there is a window of power for concerned citizens.

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