Bill Kauffman is one of my favorite political writers, and one constant theme of his writing is the importance of localism.
By the way, if you have not read his book, “Ain’t My America,” I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Anyway, I have been thinking about one specific recent quote of Kauffman’s that really stood out to me:
“Any healthy populism has to be grounded in the particular, in the love of one’s neighbors, of one’s town, of one’s community, and it’s a defense of that community, of those neighbors, against remote rule.”
Essentially, what Kauffman is saying is that our local towns and communities are the lifeblood of the country and they are far incredibly important not just in terms of the value they have to our everyday lives, but also in acting as a check on the power of the federal government.
As somebody who has long been very involved in his local community and values family and community above all else, I could not agree with Kauffman more.
Thankfully, at the moment, we have a federal government being overseen by people who understand this as well.
And if there were any doubts about that, here is what President Trump had to say about the matter within the last week:
“Since I first took office, my Administration has made it a priority to invite County Commissioners from across the United States to the White House… I’m pleased to say that more than 3,700 local officials from all 50 States have now participated in a White House State Leadership Conference.”
Despite many of his political enemies attempting to paint him as some sort of Chavista-style national dictator, as that quote shows, he clearly recognizes the importance and significance of localism.
And in case you think that quote is all lip service, here are a few more that prove it is not:
Governor Doug Burgum (R–ND): “I’ve had a chance to meet 40-plus other governors from both parties. It doesn’t matter which party they’re in, they say they’ve never had more access to cabinet people. They’ve had more access in the last eight months or 12 months to cabinet leaders than they had in the previous eight years.”
Governor Pete Ricketts (R–NE): “For the last eight years, federal bureaucrats have taken a dismissive attitude towards input from states across the Nation. Today, the voices of states are being heard thanks to the new Administration. This cultural change isn’t happening by accident. It’s being led from the top, starting with President Trump and his Cabinet.”
West Virginia Senate Majority Whip Ryan Weld (R): “Since I’ve been an elected official, I’ve never heard of Washington trying to open up a dialogue between the White House and local officials. Today, it seems they were trying to open up a discussion between the executive office and us in West Virginia. That’s something as an elected official I didn’t have before — contacts in D.C. for someone in every agency that I can reach out to.”
Iowa State Senator Brad Zaun (R): “Being a public servant for many years I have never had any presidential administration reach out to invite me for a White House briefing. This day was very informative with Q & A’s from all major federal departments. At the end of the day we were provided a contact list, which included key names, email addresses, and phone numbers of each department. This day demonstrated to me that President Trump sincerely cares about our local elected officials and most important our constituents regardless of political affiliations!”
I know what you are thinking: Ok, Munr that’s nice at the state level, but what about in small towns and communities?
National Association of Counties: “The National Association of Counties applauds the White House for engaging county elected officials from across the country. Face-to-face communications and relationship building are pivotal to improving our intergovernmental partnerships. Through this unprecedented series of meetings, county leaders talked directly with top administration officials about pressing issues, such as disaster mitigation and recovery, infrastructure needs, the opioid epidemic and public lands management.”
Commissioner Steven Aderholt (Walker County, AL): “County commissioners have never been invited to the White House in the history of the White House, to my knowledge, and they didn’t go through agencies. They didn’t go through anyone else. They emailed us all directly. It was truly an honor to sit there and listen to the leaders of our country and for them to hear from us.”
Supervisor Hildy Angius (Mohave County, AZ): “They said they understand the hard jobs we have and how the decisions they make in Washington affect us, and they wanted to do a better job of communication with us.”
Mayor Ashton Hayward (Pensacola, FL): “The Trump Administration has led the way on unprecedented outreach to local elected officials. They have been a great partner on shared priorities.”
Reading quotes like these — from a wide variety of state and local officials — makes it crystal clear that for whatever you want to say about this administration, they share the passion people like myself and Bill Kauffman have for the importance of people in a close-knit community being able to make their own decisions and guide their own lives.
The federal government has never been more powerful, so it has never been more important to have people running it who are willing to listen — and in some cases — defer to local authorities who often know far better about what works in their own respective backyards.
This is a refreshing change from what we are used to, and quite frankly, it is the way it used to be, and the way it should have continued to be all along.
Let’s hope this is just the start of a return to a federal government that places the power of local choices over the force of unilateral federal power.