Local Politics Hasn’t Been Merely ‘Local’ for Years

Over at the Wisconsin Examiner, Henry Redman writes (with concern) that All politics is national (‘Candidates for local office are ignoring community issues, instead highlighting national culture wars’).

First, Redman’s case, then a few remarks.

Woodman [Kyle Woodman, a Republican running for Eau Claire’s city council] is part of a mostly conservative group of candidates for local office across the state who are forgoing the hyper-local issues that city council and school boards largely deal with — instead aligning themselves with controversial culture war topics and making appearances with some of the state’s most divisive conservative personalities.

This trend, the nationalization of state and local politics, has been occurring across the country as state parties have become more homogenous and local news has been overshadowed by national cable news and social media.


The nationalization of state and local politics is more than bringing a liberal or conservative sensibility to the city council — that’s how the system is designed. Instead, candidates highlight national wedge issues as a way to rile up their political base in the way that the local zoning code or street cleaning can’t.

I’ve long advocated a national perspective on local politics, as it brings higher standards than hyper-local boosterism’s sketchy studies, dodgy data, and third-rate analyses. There’s no reason for small towns to endure logical fallacies and conflicts of interest because a few men insist that crud is caviar.

Redman may be right – one needn’t challenge the point – that some races are now culture-war skirmishes.

It’s significant, however, that much of the supposed ‘localism’ in Whitewater, for example, has simply been the right-of-center policies of state capitalism, crony capitalism, special-interest pleading, and local regulatory capture posing as a neutral, default local politics. See Local ‘Apolitical’ Isn’t Apolitical and Never Was.

Across the state, too many leaders seem to believe that accepting venal policies is the price of holding office, while others seem to believe that this is the very purpose of politics.

Neither type produces fair or effective policies.

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