If you study early American history, particularly the structure and purpose of government at the time of our Country’s Founding, it is easy to see that our Republic was structured much differently than the current bureaucratic mess that we think of today. As in the Athenian Republic, the most important member of society was the common man. Specifically in the Athenian Republic it was each rower on the naval ships, the average rank-and-file person in the armed service. If government ‘forgets’ that it serves the average rank-and-file members of society, then government has lost its true purpose.
Last semester, and then again at the beginning of the summer, I had two opportunities to work on a local Congresswoman’s re-election campaign. I chose not to help this Congresswoman even though we share priorities because I have no personal connection with her. While I trust the word of many friends, family members, and co-workers, it doesn’t feel right to me that I should campaign, and essentially vouch for someone I do not personally know. I understand how foolish it would be to think that every individual could, or even should have a personal relationship with each of their government representatives. But beauty still found in our bureaucracy allows me to know my local county legislator on a personal level, which is why I accepted his offer to work on his Campaign Committee.
This representative was my neighbor for several years. He is going back to school for the third time at the State University I now attend. Knowing him on a personal level, having the opportunities to see his ethics and policies in action before ever elected, grants me full confidence in his morals, work ethic, intelligence, and ability to serve his community with our best interests at heart.
To be sure, it’s not likely that I would have been offered this position if I did not know this representative. But no candidate would hire a person he thought incompetent. And he certainly would not hesitate to terminate a Committee member’s employment if he thought them inefficient, unqualified, and / or, steering him towards disaster.
So, the young, 20 year old undergrad part of me jumps up and down every time I go in to the office (not only because I have a great job at such a young age), but because I also belief in and fully support who this candidate is and what he stands for. I haven’t been working long, but I’m having so much fun – something I never expected from campaign work.
But back to the topic of this post – the importance of local level government.
The most local level of government is the most important because it has the most direct and strongest connection with the people it is purposed to serve. Most anyone who works in our Country’s Capital is disillusioned to think that they know what is best for “the people,” all the people. This disconnect with the rank-and-file members of society is absolutely unacceptable, and certainly not what built our Country into the vision of freedom we know it as today. Who knows best for the community? The people who live, work, and raise their families in the community? – Or a ‘government for, by, and of the people‘ who you have no direct contact or association with?
The answer is clear to me.
So what can we do?
Get Involved (and Stay Involved!)
Think of all the community functions that happen because of community volunteers and the intimate knowledge of community workings. Those events, support structures, etc. would not happen without individual involvement. Think about it – it’s YOUR government, shouldn’t you voice your opinion on what it does “on your behalf” ?? YES!! You should! The most powerful force in the world is individual initiative. (And combined initiatives on the community level.)
So volunteer, go to your town meeting, go to your library and volunteer for a craft or story time. There is so much that makes your community great, and all of that starts with YOU.