By Howard Roark
Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill is credited with coining the phrase “all politics is local.” It sounds simple, yet it’s often misconstrued.
“All politics is local” is often interpreted to explain that grand, global and philosophical issues create passion and headlines, but often matter less to the lives of ordinary Americans than decisions made at the state and municipal levels. Example: President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Accord was a gigantic topic in the global climate change debate, but ask a town resident whether the closing of his child’s school or a broken axle from a gaping, unfixed pothole on Main Street affects him more directly and immediately.
In other words, not everything was about Donald Trump just like not everything is about Joe Biden today.
Yet the national frenzy and 24/7 argument over national policies and tactics – pro and con – cast doubt on whether “all politics is local” (often phrased as the better sounding but grammatically flawed “all politics are local”) still applies. State and local governments feel the desire to weigh in on national and international issues, some of which are related to their own spheres of influence (such as sanctuary cities) but some of which are not.
Often you’ll hear people suggest the phrase is outdated in today’s age of networked communications and a supercharged, partisan national political climate. But the words still apply, and that’s worth remembering as we look at two elections this past weekend in Texas.
First: On Saturday Lubbock, Texas voted to ban abortions within city limits and allow residents to sue abortion providers and anyone else who assists a person obtain abortion services. All I can say is, BRAVO Lubbock!
The Texas Tribune reported that voters in Lubbock, a city of about 250,000 people deep in West Texas, backed the measure 62 percent to 38 percent. It’s not clear when the ordinance, which declares Lubbock a “sanctuary city for the unborn,” would go into effect but it is almost certain to face legal challenges.
About two dozen cities have passed similar measures, but Lubbock is the biggest thus far and the only one of the cities with an existing abortion provider within its boundaries, according to the Tribune.
The push to declare Lubbock a “sanctuary city for the unborn” began in the last two years and was galvanized by the arrival of a Planned Parenthood clinic in 2020. Anti-abortion activists gathered enough signatures to bring the ordinance to the City Council — where it was voted down for conflicting with state law and Supreme Court rulings — and to then put it to a citywide vote.
Ardent supporters of the measure, who liken abortion to murder, say it reflects the views held by many in conservative Lubbock. They believe the ordinance would stand up in court and say they have an attorney who will defend the city free of charge if it is challenged.
“Today is a victory for life and proof that the silent majority will still stand up for its Christian conservative values,” said state Rep. Dustin Burows (R), who represents the city in the state legislature, in a statement to the Tribune.
Planned Parenthood, which according to the Tribune provides abortion services in Lubbock, vowed to defy the will of the people and will continue serving patients under state and federal law, under which abortion is recognized as a legal right.
“We want Lubbock residents to know: Our doors are open and we will continue to advocate for our patients, no matter what,” said a spokesperson in a statement to the newspaper. Fine, then let the lawsuits begin.
Liberals that created sanctuary cities for illegal aliens opened a can of worms when they did so. We are going to see more and more sanctuary cities for causes such as we see here for the unborn. I envision sanctuary cities popping up to protect our second amendment rights, protection from absurd race theory mandates, and many more conservatives values that are being eroded by executive orders and partisan votes by congress. Sanctuary cities and areas may be all that we have left to combat the insanity that has taken over DC.
Second: Then we have this report from NBC News about another vote in Southlake, Texas. Residents there said no to the concept of “critical race theory” by overwhelmingly electing school board and city council members who have promised to protect the children of Southlake from such state sanctioned racism.
Nine months after officials in the affluent Carroll Independent School District introduced a proposal to combat racial and cultural intolerance in schools, voters delivered a resounding victory Saturday to a slate of school board and City Council candidates who opposed the plan.
Candidates and voters on both sides described the election as a “fork in the road” for Southlake, a suburb 30 miles northwest of Dallas. “So goes Southlake,” a local conservative commentator warned in the weeks leading up to the election, “so goes the rest of America.”
In the end, it wasn’t even close. Candidates who were opposed to the concept of teaching “critical race theory”, won in a Texas sized landslide of 70 percent. That’s two school board positions, two City Council seats and mayor. More than 9,000 voters cast ballots, three times as many as in similar contests in the past.
These are an example of politics that have a direct effect on the lives of the people in those communities and while they may not seem important to people outside Southlake or Lubbock, Texas it’s more impactful than you might think. Look at them as a lesson for other communities, a call to arms if you will.
The vital importance of political activity below the national level is nonetheless as great or greater than ever. Columbia University statistician and political scientist Andrew Gelman maintains that since 1968, politics has become less local, but Gelman was addressing it in terms of how it affected election results, and not so much on how local policy decisions affected citizens.
Not all politics is about Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi. Voters should remember that as they take time to study the candidates and issues in every election. Politics may not be all local, but most of it still is. How much attention we pay as citizens and voters to races that affect us directly will have much to say over what quality of politics we get, every school district, every county election, every local election, we have to win, win, win.
Remember these are the important elections, these are the elections where you can most make a difference. Get out there and get involved.
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