Wednesday, August 15, 2007or....Politics for Real People
My original purpose for this blog was to vent about politics. Like a lot of political bloggers, I started because I was tired of yelling at the TV. Over the last 2+ years (my how time flies) I've kept to that focus, but now I'm reconsidering. It's not just that there are plenty of political blogs out there, or that the stuff I say that is fairly unique is also pretty abstract (and hence boring to everyone but me).
Brazen has said on many occasions that she doesn't think my blog is personal enough, that my personality doesn't translate itself into this blog. And it's true that I generally don't write about myself, or from my own perspective. I've been writing from the point of view of a 3rd-person analyst rather than a human being.
I'm still as interested in national politics as I ever was, but I think perhaps I could make better use of my time that just being another pundit. So I'm going to try something a little different. I'm going to attempt to focus not on the phenomena of national politics (both the sweeping and mundane), but write instead about politics of a different sort - the politics of personal activism.
The reality is that most politics is not the D.C.-based stuff we see on TV, but the politics of local communities. The race for President gets far too much attention, I think, compared to contests for mayor, city council, the state legislature, or even congress. The vast majority of people who work in politics do so at this more human level, and I think it's worth writing about. There's a lot of participation that falls in between voting (literally the least one can do) and running for office. And it's that kind of participation that generally gets lost in discussions about politics.
What's not widely known is how easy local political activism is, and how rewarding. There's nothing quite like getting to know a small-time candidate and helping them win a tough race, or seeing a law that will do some good passed in part because of your efforts. Knocking on doors, passing out fliers, meeting people in you neighborhood, forging friendships with other activists from all walks of life - it's an entire world that people never hear about. Folks watch negative ads on TV, hear the nastiness of national political debate, and the vacuousness of national political coverage, and think that politics is some bizarre and twisted activity that only the lunatic or power-mad would get involved in. But that's not what I see.
Politics should not be intimidating. If you'd met the number of elected officials I have, you'd no longer view them as alien beings or celebrities, but as very normal people. There are many decent people who given substantial amounts of their time to politics, either as professionals or volunteers. It's those stories we don't usually hear, stories I'm going to try to tell more of from now on.