Culture: November 2007 Archives

It's election day, and since it's just local elections the turnout is really poor. I was just voter #74 in my district, and the election workers are (I believe?) joking about knocking on people's doors to remind them that there's an election on.

It's strange that we never care as much about local elections, even though they impact us far more directly than national ones. How can people with kids not care about who is running their schools. How can someone be motivated to vote for a presidential candidate who has little chance of winning their state because of party dominance and yet not be able to get over to vote on the people who will determine which construction projects happen in their neighborhood? There are plenty of irrational elements of voting behavior, but this one has to be up near those who voted for John Kerry because they thought he was pro-life or George Bush because they thought he was pro-choice.

Is this just an artifact of the nationalized media? Is it because no one pays attention to local media? I doubt it, because I'm pretty sure this pattern is older than nationalized media's dominance. Is it that the issues in national elections seem more important because they have more effect? This might explain why we get more worked up about national issues than we do about anything at the local level. The local authorities can't do as much about those concerns. What's ironic, if that's the case, is that we have far smaller influence over such issues, and so we're getting more worked up about things we have much less ability to affect.

It's especially odd that this apathy about local elections is present among libertarians, federalists, and small-government conservatives, who constantly go on about how certain issues ought to be left to the local level. Do such people regularly vote on the local level about those issues? Some of them surely do, but I would guess that the percentage of people voting in local elections is similar across parties.

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