Daily Bread for 8.19.22: Residency Matters, Practically and Ethically

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of 79. Sunrise is 6:06 AM and sunset 7:49 PM for 13h 43m 24s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 45.2% of its visible disk illuminated. 

 On this day in 1812, the American frigate USS Constitution defeats the British frigate HMS Guerriere off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada earning the nickname “Old Ironsides.” 

Charles R. Hunt writes Dr. Oz should be worried – voters punish ‘carpetbaggers,’ and new research shows why

Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race between Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz has garnered a lot of media attention recently, thanks to the Fetterman campaign’s relentless trolling of his opponent, mainly for being a resident of neighboring New Jersey rather than the state he’s running to represent.

Fetterman has run ad after ad using Oz’s own words to highlight his deep Jersey roots. His campaign started a petition to nominate Oz for the New Jersey Hall of Fame. Fetterman even enlisted very-Jersey celebrities like Snooki of “Jersey Shore” to draw attention to his charge that Oz is a carpetbagger in the Pennsylvania race: a candidate with no authentic connection to an area, who moved there for the sole purpose of political ambition.

While Hunt is writing about candidates for federal office, his research shows how residency matters, generally: 

Why do voters respond positively to deeply rooted candidates and negatively to their carpetbagging counterparts?

One explanation is that deep roots offer candidates a number of practical campaign benefits. A deeply rooted candidate tends to have more intimate knowledge of the district, including its electorate, its economy and industries, its unique culture and its political climate. Deeply rooted candidates also enjoy naturally higher name recognition in the community, more extensive social and political networks and greater access to local donors and vendors for their campaigns.

Other work has theorized that local roots help candidates tap into a shared identity with their voters that is less tangible but meaningful. Scholars like Kal Munis have shown that when voters have strong psychological attachments to a particular place, it has major impacts on voting behavior. And in a recent survey I conducted with David Fontana, we found that voters consistently rated homegrown U.S. Senate candidates as more relatable and trustworthy, and cast votes for them at higher rates.

Just as you’d trust a true born-and-raised local to give you advice about where to eat in town over someone who just moved there, so too do voters trust deeply rooted candidates to represent them in Washington.

The key point: while any resident should have an equal voice, non-residents simply lack the same status in the community.

This is true both politically and ethically. 

Politically. It doesn’t matter whether one thinks they have (or should have) the same status; in political matters non-residents most certainly do not. In the end, the large commuter class of officials in the Whitewater area are vulnerable during controversies — their titles are insufficient to protect their positions during a challenge or crisis. As a matter of durability, if you’re not here, you’re at a political disadvantage. 

Ethically. People have a right to work here and then live elsewhere, although I would hope that day workers would decide freely to choose Whitewater. It’s a beautiful city. While it is a pleasure to travel to faraway places and have adventures elsewhere, no matter how enjoyable those trips, every return to our city is for me a happy one. Whitewater is my home. 

Something more, much more: Whitewater is a city of significant needs. People with true concern for others could find no more deserving place to apply their compassionate talents. (One carries on, doing what one can, in one’s own way, all the while Waiting for Whitewater’s Dorothy Day.)

What caring person, during the Great Depression, would have left America for the sake of a supposedly more comfortable foreign land? There is no caring person who would have done so. One would have stayed and chosen whatever role one could (and there are thousands of worthy roles) in support of American society. While there are many commendable acts within a community in need, abandonment is not among them. 

In beauty and in need, Whitewater is worthy of a full commitment: to live here, sharing in both the pleasures and pains of the city, acting in whatever way on can toward the community’s betterment. 

 SpaceX CRS-25 Dragon undocking and departure: 

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