109. Why Are Local Politics So Important?

People like to make a big fuss over federal politics, but local politics is just as exciting and even more important. The actions taken by local governments have a bigger impact on your day to day life than national politics so it is exceedingly important to be informed and get involved.

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Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Connor: Hey, Brittany.

Brittany: Hi, Connor.

Connor: About a decade ago when I was first getting involved in politics, I, kind of through happenstance started working on issues kind of at a local level. And this was on for me because everything that I was seeing in the news was focused on a national level. When I would turn on the tv, you know, listened to the even local radio, all they talked about seemingly was the stuff happening at the federal level, what congress was doing, what the president was saying, what was happening in the war, and things like that. And, so it was interesting, right? Because everyone’s attention seemed to be diverted to kind of this higher level of government that affects the whole country. But the interesting thing is that no one was really paying attention to stuff happening at the local level. I had an opportunity to kind of get involved with a few people and some local political things in our state. And what I found was really interesting, I was pretty effective in other words like it wasn’t actually that hard to like, get a law changed and meet with elected officials and, get some, freedom done. So maybe let me first get an outside perspective. Brittany, do you kind of share that view, or do you have any other insight that it seems like most people don’t really pay attention to what’s happening so much, like in their state, or certainly like in their city, but that everyone’s kind of focused up at the federal level?

Brittany: Absolutely. And not even, just a city like your local, what is it? What do they call it? it’s not a home association, I guess zoning meetings, I just, they would just be zoning meetings, like not even just your city, your neighborhood meetings, the local, the most local meeting you can possibly go to. Those are the meetings where I personally believe you have the most, ability to make a change. So that’s really important.

Connor: And that’s, what’s interesting too, is the very, like, where people’s attention is distracted or, diverted up at the national level, is the area where they can achieve the least. I mean, probably nothing. Yeah. To be honest. And so what I’ve found over the years, Britney, is that it feels like people get burned out, right? They, feel very inadequate and incompetent because all they are presented with every single day is problems, right? We’re watching the news and look at all these bad things happening, and then the economy did this, and this is happening in the Middle East and Congress is doing blah, blah, blah. Like we’re just the steady stream of problems that we lack the ability to do anything about. And it’s like people are hooked to this EIV drip of problems that’s debilitating us. It’s paralyzing. Why? Because you don’t feel like you can do anything about it. The biggest question I get years later now working on this stuff, Brittany, is, well, what can I do? Like, like what would you advise me to do? You know, what should I talk to my kids about? What, how can we get involved? What can one person do? Because people have like been trained to see all these problems and feel, and rightly so that they can’t do anything about ’em. I mean, most of these national problems.

Brittany: You really can’t, a lot of ’em. You can’t, yeah.

Connor: One person, you’re sorry. Like you may have ambition, you may have interest, but you’re probably not gonna be able to do anything about it. And, so it’s interesting, part of me, kind of the cynical conspiracy, whatever side of me is like, I kind of wonder if that’s intentional. I kind of wonder if the fact that people don’t pay attention to local stuff or that the media, you know, doesn’t really focus on that, stuff as much is maybe intentional. Now, the other side of me will say, well, maybe not. Why? Well look a decade, two decades, and certainly older than that, you would have reporters for your local newspaper in the city council meetings talking about what was happening at a local level. You had local journalism, but with the rise of online advertising and targeted advertising and the decline in newspaper subscriptions, right? Those journalists have had to be let go as newspapers shrink and as they shrink, right? They have to focus more and more on what people will pay for. And that is, this is.

Brittany: National stuff.

Connor: Stuff, right? Yeah. People are like, okay, the little soccer park isn’t going in this. Like, okay, they don’t care as much about that as, you know, what just happened? What did the president say? Or whatever. And so newspapers are having to make strategic business decisions and say, we can’t afford to pay journalists to sit in city council meetings that people don’t seem to care about. And so they have to reassign those journalists or let them go as they kind of shrink their operations at the newspaper. And so that’s not so much conspiracy as just that’s kind of what has happened with our economy.

Brittany: That’s the way things are. Yeah.

Connor: Yeah. And so now what happens is routinely city councils will, you know, pass stuff. And literally, the only people sitting in the room are like maybe a few Boy Scouts, and like, you know, who are there for a merit badge or something. And then some developers who were there to like get permission to rezone some land. And so a lot of these things are happening without anyone really paying attention. And, that creates a vacuum where big problems can happen if the, you know, elected officials know that no one’s really watching, then, you know, some shenanigans might happen. And even at a state level, you do have still journalism at a state level because that’s covering enough stuff that people are interested in. But you have fewer journalists than you used to. And so much is happening. I mean, I deal with this all the time. So much is happening, you know, during any given day, especially during like a legislative session or something, where at the end of the day there’s only so much, time on the TV program, or there’s only so much space in the newspaper, the online whatever. Like a journalist can’t focus on 18 things. They’ve gotta just pick their one thing and their editor’s gonna say, go over there. Well, that means that they haven’t focused on all the other stuff, so no one hears about ’em. And the stuff that they do focus on, maybe they’ve only got like 30 seconds on the radio program to talk about it. And so they’re not getting into the detail, they’re not getting into the nuance, the information that would actually inform people. So it’s just like superficial information, right? Hey, this happened and then they voted, and then this happened, but you’re missing, I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in Brittany where something happens and then I see the news report come out about it.

Brittany: You’re like, Hey, this is a different story.

Connor: Yeah. And I’m like, or not so much different. Often

Brittany: Just, you’re missing so much.

Connor: Yeah. That’s like, okay, that’s like 2% of it, you know, like, it would be amazing if the public remorse form. And so the challenge then is that as everyone’s attention is diverted up to the national level where they can’t really do as much, they get burned out. But we’re more and more losing the local information that would surface these opportunities of like, Hey, this is happening. but people don’t really, it’s like a muscle, right? When you don’t use a muscle, it atrophies, which is a word that means like it gets disabled, right? It’s, unusable because muscles work well as, you know, anyone who goes to the gym, right? They, work better and better the more that you put them to work and they build capacity and they get stronger. And I feel it’s that way with our civic involvement, with our involvement kind of in government and fighting for freedom. If we’ve never done it, then we don’t know what to do and we feel incapable. But if you just start a little bit, if you do something tiny that will lead to one more thing, and then you’ll meet other people who will help you with the next thing. And then you’ll, you know, and then it kind of snowballs to the point where, I mean, like Brittany, I’ve, shared my story before. I’m a web developer, right? Like my background, I built websites, I did marketing, I just kind of stumbled into all of this stuff, right? Like I got involved and then I met another person. And that led to one other opportunity. And before I know it, I was starting my own nonprofit and now I’ve written 25 books. Like I’m no expert. I didn’t go to school for any of this. And, so my own story, I feel like Britney is, a testament to the fact that anyone can configure this out. Anyone can get involved. You don’t have to do it full-time like me and, be as invested, but it’s so critical that we pay attention to the things that are happening at the local level. So lemme ask you a question, Brittany, if you think about your own life, who do you feel has, like, which level of government, I’ll say it that way. Which level of government do you feel like has more that the most influence over your daily life? Federal, state, or local? Like city, county?

Brittany: I would’ve to say city county. Why? I think that because like the little things like, like how you recycle or how you, well, even, drug laws, and we’ve talked about, you know, the government telling you what you can put in your body. A lot of these really, really land break or groundbreaking, decriminalization of marijuana, things like that. They’ve happened at the city level. I’m trying to think what else, happens at the city level. But all these like small measures, they’re all happening in your city, not even in your state. So that’s why to me, county and city are the most important.

Connor: Yeah. Like your property, can you use air?

Brittany: Ah, that’s a good one.

Connor: you know, cause.

Brittany: That Uber as well is a city. Yeah. Is a city thing.

Connor: Yeah. curfew laws for the kids. Some cities have curfew laws, you know,

Brittany: Quarantine stuff too. I mean, especially is, yeah. So

Connor: The local police showing up to you know, a few weeks back, right? It was like, oh, you have a Turkey big enough for 15 people, you know like, and, in some states, you know, that happened, the police would be out enforcing these things. So you’re right, like public health laws, that’s at a local level as well. you know, speaking to the kids, like lemonade stands, right? Kids across the country have had their lemonade stands shut down. That wasn’t by, you know, a president that wasn’t by Congress, that was by a local city or county official, who was enforcing a local law, right? Can you have a yard sale? Can you have a sign in your property? Can you do a protest, you know, have free speech? Like, there’s so many things that happen from your like day-to-day business, that is governed by a local level. So that’s interesting. Brittany, you feel it’s the local level. What do you think would be the next most influential in your life? Which level?

Brittany: I think you, it would just get bigger with the however big the thing is. So that was the worst definition ever. A works explanation. So I think it starts with your city, or, not even your city, I would think. Say it starts with your neighborhood, and that would be like zoning, meetings, things like that. Then it would go to your city, then it goes to your county, and then it goes, you know, state. I would say the federal government is the least important of all of it. And the state’s still pretty important. So I would say the state is still a pretty big deal.

Connor: So if we kind of imagined a pyramid, the bottom of the pyramid, the whitest, you know, base would be kind of the local area. And then as it gets narrower towards the top, then we’re at the state level. And then the teeny tiny, you know, part at the top in terms of like what’s affecting you on a daily basis is the federal level. Now think about taking that pyramid and flipping it upside down, right? So now the part on top is what was on bottom. And then, you know, going down to the edge, and is that’s how it works with our attention, right? Our attention is focused so much at this teeny tiny little top of the pyramid that we can’t really do much of. And maybe our attention’s a little bit at a state level. What did the governor do? And, you know, what new law did the legislature pass? But, our attention is happening the very least at that, you know, now that we’ve flipped the pyramid, that teeny tiny little part at the bottom that represents the local government, that’s how much attention we’re giving to the local level. The white base. When the pyramid is upright, that’s how much the local levels of government are impacting our lives. But when we flip the pyramid in terms of our attention, it’s just that teeny tiny little top of the pyramid, that we’re giving to it. And so that’s my frustration is I’ve often wondered why is like, is this intentional? Is it just like happenstance that happened that way? But I have seen, we, we train a lot of people, Brittany, we do, in fact, we just finished our, annual training for a lot of like young people wanting to learn how to be effective and, so forth. And so we just got done with another one. And so we train a lot of people, we educate them, here’s how the system works, here’s how you can impact it. And when we kind of peel the curtain back and we’re like, guys, it’s actually not that hard. And if you just, you know, build a couple of relationships and get the ball rolling, like you’ll probably succeed, right? And, it’s not actually that difficult. Routinely the kind of response we get back is, oh wow, I didn’t realize it was so simple, And so, like, you know, the schools aren’t teaching this stuff. The media certainly isn’t teaching this stuff. Frankly, parents aren’t teaching this stuff cuz they themselves often have never experienced that for the same exact reasons we just mentioned. Not having learned it in school or from their parents.

Brittany: That’s the biggest thing just thought we didn’t learn it.

Connor: Absolutely. And so it’s like once you finally realize that, oh yeah, I can make a difference. Why I like it is that it’s the exact opposite of what people feel at the federal level, which is that IV drip of, problems I mentioned where they don’t know solutions. So they’re just being like, these waves of problems are crashing against us every time we watch the news. Well, it’s quite different at a local level. Like, you roll up your sleeves a little bit, you get with a few of your neighbors or people in your community, you come up with a plan, you talk to the right people and get the ball rolling, you suddenly you’re gonna actually be accomplishing things. Like so many people who end up running for city council or mayor or the legislature got started just as a quote-unquote community activist because they figured out at some point in their life that, well, yeah, I can do that, right? Like, I, can go, you know, do a, protest, I can do a rally, I can host a sit-in at this business, I can do this community outreach thing. I can organize a service project, you know, oh, the community, you know, there’s a fire or tornado or whatever. Yeah, I can, I’ll gather some people to come clear debris or like, there’s so many things that you can do just by kind of starting doing them that once you do it, you realize that’s very motivating. It’s no longer this IV drip of problems. It’s problem, solution, problem, solution, problem, solution. And that’s very motivating cuz that’s how we as humans operate. We’ve talked about entrepreneurship, right? That’s what entrepreneurs do. You are a problem solver and you’re coming up with solutions to problems. Well, if all of your attention is at the federal level, you’re not gonna be a very good quote-unquote entrepreneur, because we’re not able to think of those solutions to those extremely big problems. But if you focus at a local level, if you go to your city council meetings, if you go meet your mayor, if you, you know, invite your state legislator over and hear what they’re doing, right? If you start to kind of get in those conversations just to, I mean, for all the homeschoolers out there, right? Do a little homeschool field trip, do a little zoom call, invite your local senator to come, you know, talk to a dozen kids about what they’re working on. And you just have to start. And, you suddenly realize that as you observe those problems in your community, you can come up with solutions and, that it’s not actually that difficult. And as you implement those solutions, it’s then motivating to continue. You suddenly kind of like you’re flexing that muscle again, right? The muscle was atrophied, but you’re like, Hey, I have a muscle and it works, works I should flex it again. Oh, look at that. It’s a tiny bit stronger now. and it’s very motivating to continue. So my plea for you is, you know, find a way to get involved. Now we’re gonna link on the show notes page to, the state policy network, which is one organization to look at. that’s at spn.org. And they have a directory on there where you can find groups like ours. So Libertas Institute is, operates primarily in Utah, but there are groups like us everywhere. And they’re, you know, some are different, some are better than others, but you can click on your state and say, who’s in my state? Do they have events? Maybe I can donate a little bit to them. So they kind of wanna talk to me. And, you know,  maybe I can go to their office or invite one of them to speak to my, you know, youth group or homeschool group. what other, you know, maybe they can tell me about some of the other little, grassroots groups that exist in the state. go look on Facebook and join a Facebook group. There’s so many things that you can do to just start to get involved. And especially coming off a year like 2020, right? It’s so critical to find effective ways. It’s one thing to, you know, attend to protest and hold up a sign and feel like you did something. It’s another thing entirely to actually have plans and have a campaign and have a strategy and meet the right people and, pursue a goal rather than just venting and protesting. It’s another thing to actually roll up your sleeves and do something. So show notes page for today, Tuttletwins.com/podcast. Check it out. SPN was a good resource to kind of find a group like Libertas in your state. Reach out to ’em, get involved, and tell ’em you want to connect. They’ll be more than happy to, you know, support you as you’re trying to learn about this stuff. Brittany, thanks for giving me a little time to share something I’m very passionate about. This is something I think a lot of people need to learn about. so thanks to all of you for subscribing and Brittany, until next time, we’ll talk to you later.

Brittany: Talk to you later.

 

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