Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All Politics is Local? Not Anymore.

As I’ve tried to educate myself on the 30 or so elected positions for which I’ll be voting, I’ve realized that there is almost no way for an average voter to fully or even adequately inform him or herself on candidates outside of those running in the biggest elections. Even with the help of a sparse local election guide, most of us end up basing down-ballot decisions on little more than party affiliation.

Not so long ago, people chose to join a party for its local party leadership and policies. As we all know, a northern Democrat and a southern Democrat were once entirely different breeds. But not anymore. Perhaps through the forces of modern media and high-speed communications, there is a lot more similarity in attitudes and policy preferences among party members of different regions. National party identity now trumps local identity.

This trend, more than anything else, is why I think Democrats have completely lost control of Texas over the last 15 years or so. There is no longer any real difference between a Texas Democrat and any other kind of Democrat. But this is a conservative/libertarian leaning state. We’re simply not going to vote in large numbers for guys like Chris Bell (Democratic nominee for Governor) who seems like he could run for office in Vermont or Oregon.

The increasing influence of national party identity is not unique to Texas. The same phenomenon is undoubtedly hurting Republicans up North and out West as much as it’s hurting Democrats down South. The large tents of the two major parties are shrinking as both the Dems and the Repubs lose their regional variances.

Is this the reason for the increasing number of independents? It’s one thing to be a part of a party conforming to local opinions, but it’s much harder to join a party that asks allegiance to a national agenda not rooted in any specific local concern or attitude.

All politics is local? Not nowadays. In fact, so much of political identity is now national that any candidate who puts a D by their name in Texas knows they’ll lose a significant number of votes simply because national Democrats so poorly represent the average Texan.

I seriously doubt that the national parties will ever return to their local roots, but I do believe the increasing number of independent voters will eventually force candidates to rethink party labels and their worth. The current status quo is just not sustainable in a nation of such diversity.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss Ann Richards...

now SHE was a Texas democratic governor!

3:24 PM  
Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Yep. Ann Richards was my kind of Democrat.

10:48 PM  

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