6 Asides Before the Local Spring Elections in Whitewater

Assorted remarks on local politics before next week’s local election —-

 Spring. While one might normally prefer fall, spring is notably welcome this year. It has been, for so many, a difficult year. Some of us have come through it well (as we have from the Great Recession, opioid epidemic, and economic stagnation), but our own fortune is not universally shared.

Candidacies and endorsements. There are contests for Whitewater’s school board and city council. These elections are important to the candidates, but candidates’ immediate concerns often matter less than longer trends, many of which these candidates haven’t addressed.

There’s no compelling reason to endorse one candidate or another: their concerns may not be not one’s own, candidates in Whitewater often shift positions situationally after assuming office, and the prospects for effective, local governmental change are less than even a few years ago. This is more than a libertarian skepticism toward government: local government in Whitewater has less influence each year to address constructively the significant problems in this community.

This has been a sound assessment for a considerable time. See An Oasis Strategy (from 12.16.2016) and Waiting for Whitewater’s Dorothy Day (from 9.16.2020).

(The federal government, by contrast, has vast power that can reach into even small communities. It is for this reason that attention to Trumpism, a malevolent nativism, was and remains a prudent focus. See Trump, His Inner Circle, Principal Surrogates, and Media Defenders and Trumpism Down to the Local Level.)

Significance. A mongoose, walking about on the savanna, is able to tell the difference between real and artificial cobras. It battles one, but sensibly ignores the other. So it is with critiques and commentary: not every cobra is real, and only the real ones merit a fight.

Officeholding is, often, a place in which one might encounter real snakes. Some candidates will prove, however, to be rubber replicas once in office. There’s no point in getting mixed up with others in a local election in which candidates’ actions or effectiveness as officeholders is conjectural.

Immediate and Remote. Problems – of government power or private manipulation of government power – are not all of equal urgency. Some are obviously urgent (e.g., excessive use of force or denial of constitutional rights) but others are remote (e.g., failed fiscal policy). The immediate wounds presently; the remote debilitates over time.

One judges between problems significant or insignificant, and between problems immediate or remote.

Good Ground. The best opportunity for an expansive critique comes when one addresses the actions and claims of public officials on public issues. See The Power of Refutation. (There is also a good basis to address powerful private parties on public issues, especially powerful private parties scheming for manipulation of regulations or spending for their own enrichment.)

Successful candidates in these elections will present either a two-year or three-year period for scrutiny.

A Surprise at the End.  This election reminds of a line from the movie Unbreakable: ‘they say this one has a surprise ending.’ For some – but not for those watching carefully – the results are likely to be a surprise. 

There will be much to address, and much work to do, after the results are in.

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