Saturday, August 28, 2010
How to Make Local Government Sexy
This post on Andrew Sullivan's blog by Conor Friedersdorf is quite relevant to my Aug. 3 post on localism. Per its title, it is clearly an advocacy piece in favor of localism, but if anything its opening ("Does anyone pay regular attention to their City Council or County Board of Supervisors?") tends to support my point. It raises the question, to me at least, of whether this is inevitable. That even those people who are generally aware of (and potentially engaged with) national politics are often disengaged at the local level is really problematic for advocates of local government. But how would you go about promoting increased engagement? Would better online reporting and organizing make a difference? Do we need dedicated and effective bloggers in every community to bring these issues to life? And how would you promote/fund that? One could argue that people don't pay attention to it because there is a perception that local government doesn't have that much power and doesn't really matter. But I think Yglesias's arguments to that local government still has considerable impact on quality of life (through zoning and business regulations) are quite persuasive. Why is the public's perception so different? Certainly I don't have answers to these questions, and as such I am disinclined to offer much support to movements in favor of increased power for local government. I'd just like to see those who advocate that address these issues more squarely. I'm not convinced this is an intractable problem, and if concrete steps could be taken to address it, it would be to everyone's benefit. I think we just need some creative thinking on this topic.