Give Me Liberty Or Give Me… Local Government

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By Iris Poole


With the Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump, there are many people who feel victory, while others feel that their world is crashing right before their eyes. Both sides certainly have their points as well as their faults, though I would argue that we have put too much significance into the national offices and elections that we ignore what goes on in our State and local offices. For the past year and a half, leading up to the national election and Presidential Inauguration, the neglect of local offices has become evident.

During this past election season, there was very little focus on what the states and local offices were doing beside those states passing the legalization of recreational marijuana. There are currently more laws than what anyone can keep track of, including law enforcement. This creates the catch-22 effect, being ignorant of law, but ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. These “unknown” laws are primarily passed by state and local governments and officials, which are easily ignored, but bring a much greater impact to our lives than being given credit for.

The functions of governments are to provide representation, civic engagement, law making, and policy development. These functions have a much greater impact the more local the governments are because they can be much easier to make a change in representation, law, and policy.

Where there are more civic engagements involved in making community decisions, the likelihood of policies that hurt communities decrease. There is not only more accountability from the community to policymakers but also individuals in the community are aware of what policies and laws are being proposed.

One issue that is often brought up by local and state constituents is that they don’t feel they are adequately represented, if at all, by the officials in their government. One solution would be to run for local office, and be that representation, because local representation affects local communities directly. Desiring to make an impact on one’s community is what many people have in common with each other. Acting upon that desire enables the individual access to make a positive impact on their community.

Between the federal and local governments, there are differences as to what is going to significantly impact them but in practice the most change that really impacts people’s lives is the state and local government. There is an importance to knowing what is going on in the federal government but it becomes difficult to do so when the local and state governments are neglected.