It’s very easy to fall into the trap that everyone is deeply concerned with the newest political crisis brewing, especially for those of us that follow politics with a laser-like focus. It’s also very easy to become condescending towards the fellow citizens who seem unconcerned, unknowledgeable, or simply uncaring about the national crisis du jour. Finally, it often seems incomprehensible that our fellow Americans have such misguided and belligerent views. In times like that, it is important to remember the old but wise cliche, “All Politics is Local.”
A case in point for liberals, such as myself. In the small town of Coralville, Iowa, the police shut down a lemonade stand of a 4 year old girl citing the lack of permits. According to the Omaha World Herald:
A city ordinance says food vendors must apply for a permit and get a health inspection.
I’m sure the law has merit and it’s not my intent to discuss health permit law or even the discretion that the police should or should not have used.
Instead, in a small, heartland town that is probably by nature apt to vote conservative this is a perfect example of “government regulation” and “big government” overstepping it’s bounds and destroying the Apple Pie America of yonder. In other words, words that conservatives have unrelentingly branded are used to reinforce the bad actions by government and hence, influence people. Politicians, pundits, and politicos have to keep in mind that most people will form views and ideas about government through their own experiences and the experiences of their family and community, not through the lens of Harry Reid versus Mitch McConnell debating the vagaries of the debt ceiling.
Government regulation is necessary for much of our society to function efficiently. For example, without the FDA the simple act of consuming food would become burdensome and even precarious. Yet much of government regulation is abstract and abstruse to most everday Americans, which allows the politicos to seize upon words and phrases to control the message. The Republican messages and branding must be fought first and foremost but it must be done on a grassroots level. The Republican Party has done an amazing job at getting down to local politics and reaching out to the disaffected. They have also done an excellent job at infiltrating most State Legislatures and even smaller local positions which has given them a national advantage larger than their numbers.
The liberal movement must do a better job at grassroots movement, concerning themselves with what citizens care about on a local level, and controlling the message. It’s important to combat the message of “government is bad” with “government is good and necessary.” Too often today, even the much of the liberal media treats the government as a necessary evil and then rails on it’s opponents with condescending, cold logic which only appeals to the already converted. The liberal world does not need another Paul Krugman, it needs an antithesis to the Tea Party that espouses the need and merits of good governance in appeal to the masses.