I was thinking the other day about local political figures and how uninspiring they are and how bored I get reading about their travails. My eyes glaze over when photos of Mike Sanders or Jason Kander appear in the news media or on blogs . Even the machinations of the mayor and city council don't put a grip on my interest; the doings at 12th and Oak often seems unimaginative and boring or frustrating, out of touch and, well, backward and dumb.
The irony here is that it is local members of government that can do things that impact me personally. It wasn't Barack Obama who decided to merge the ambulance service into the fire department or put the majority of the cost for the sewer repair on the backs of water service customers. It's the local yokels who decided to continue giving money to an ineffective crime prevention group or make a curfew for young people (not all the ideas are bad you know.)
I wonder if it is because we see them up close sometimes. We know about their kid with the behavior problem, we see them in the grocery store or McDonald's. They are all too human to us--they don't look like they could think their way out of a soggy paper bag. Yet, they seem also distant, like they are living on another planet. They don't know us, they know other equally powerful and important people. They know the rich and locally famous. They make deals and make money we can only dream of.
It is hard paying good attention to local politics. All politics is local, yet local problems and issues are set in the context of what is happening in the region, state, country or even world. Local politicians are something like the proverbial blind man, feeling the tail of an elephant and pronouncing it a rope. Yet they can pull on the elephant's tail and make things happen that affect the local citizens. So yeah, we need to pay attention to City Hall, even when there are one hundred things that look more interesting.