top of page
  • Writer's picturePeter Serefine

All Politics Is Local - Explained

Updated: Mar 14, 2022

All politics is local. That phrase has been bandied around the United States for 90 years or more. According to PoliEngine, there are about 520,000 elected offices in the United States. 96% of them are county and local offices. Nearly one in every 20 citizens is a politician.

The Covid-19 pandemic helped expose the meaning. Even the iron fist of a totalitarian government must rely on state and local governments. It wasn't the federal government of the United States that shut down the nation. It was the state and local governments. Sure, there was plenty of incentive and coercion from Washing DC, but your governor showed far more actual power than the president. Even so, when the mandate to close businesses came down from governors' offices it was still county and local offices that had to do the work. It was the local health department office, for example, tasked with closing stubborn restaurants. It was local police and county sheriffs that were expected to enforce the governors' other mandates.

Fortunately, in some localities, sheriffs refused. Some of us were lucky enough to have elected a sheriff who understands that their oath of office is to the US Constitution first. Some officials understand that according to Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, the government's primary job is to protect our rights.

School board meetings were another example in the Wuhan Flu spotlight. All across our Republic, local school boards were expected to follow CDC guidelines that didn't make any sense to many parents. Those parents objected at their school board meetings. The federal government couldn't actually do anything about the parents, so they attempted to label them terrorists. Nonetheless, it was the local school board that had the power in the situation.

The federal government wanted a complete shutdown. Some state governments wanted a complete shutdown. The actual level of shutdown varied greatly from county to county and town to town. The government closest to the people may or may not govern best, but Government closest to the people is certainly the easiest to influence.

There are a couple of ways this knowledge is useful. Consider a public official who is performing so poorly that a majority of constituents don't approve. If it is a local office, you simply need to organize your neighbors to remove the official. Learn the process from your county election office. Most likely, collect some signatures and file the petition. If that poor performer is at the federal level, the amount of influence and bureaucracy involved makes their removal next to impossible. Removal of a state-level official falls between the simple and nearly impossible.

Also, consider vacancies. Offices declared vacant in local elections are disappointingly common. The last municipal election in the South Ward of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania had three positions with no candidate at all. Two of those three positions were declared vacant by the county election office. That is two vacancies in just one of four wards in one small town. There are over 35,000 municipalities in the United States. There are likely tens of thousands of elected offices vacant at any point. Therein lies the opportunity in the situation. Every office has a procedure to fill vacancies. If real power rests at the local level as described above, then reason dictates there is great importance in every local office.

In Pennsylvania, for example, when a Constable position is vacant the process is simple. The county court appoints a constable when presented with a petition of ten or more signatures of local voters. So it is surprising, that at any given time, there are 1,000 constable vacancies in Pennsylvania. I use the constable as a mere example for that is exactly what I did. Seeing the importance of the position, I sought and obtained an appointment to Pennsylvania State Constable.

Another example is election day poll workers. There are usually three elected positions for each ward within a municipality. These are jobs that only require two days of work per year. With election integrity being such a contentious issue recently, you would expect every political party would run candidates in every precinct for every job related to elections. Surprisingly, there are often no candidates for these offices.

Regardless of your political ideology or affiliation, you can make a difference. If you feel the government has gone too far to one side or the other, you can be part of the solution. If you are smart about it, you can contribute without being a candidate or managing a political campaign. Contact your county election office to find out what positions are vacant. Then ask if they know how the position will be filled. The election office may know the process, but even if they don't, it will only take a little research.

In our form of government, all politics truly is local. The government closest to the people has tremendous power. Make sure those municipal offices are filled by people who still believe in the principles of our Declaration of Independence; that we the people have unalienable rights and "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

163 views0 comments
bottom of page