My dear friend, Chuck Marohn, was on a radio show in Wisconsin this week called Koeping with Government. First let me say this. I think while Chuck has no doubt done some great things for the communities he has worked for, his greatest achievements — his contributions to this great country — are only now beginning to be unveiled. Before I make this sound like an eulogy, I will quickly quip that some of the greatest minds of this country have been people who forced us, through simple articulation of a critical but often ignored perspective, to think differently. Chuck will always make you stop and think, no matter your belief system.
The show was recorded and I hope you will listen to it. I want you to hear it for two reasons. First, his message is important. Our cities have been mortgaged for the faux mantras of economic development and “mobility”. Instead, they are becoming places laden with debt and hampered by immobility. We are literally being lied to and are lying to ourselves about what we can afford in roads and infrastructure.
Secondly, the hidden message — one I wish was spoken more loudly more often — is that our politics is killing our neighborhoods. It is killing them because we are being convinced by politicians that we can’t get along. That our differences are too great. What you will recognize if you listen to this podcast is that two very different ideologies can and must learn to recognize our common burden. All politics isn’t local. Just turn on the TV. What perhaps is more true is that all politics should be rooted locally. We should determine what is best for our country by what is best for our neighborhoods.
I have all but given up on the populist political movements of today for this reason alone. They are far too concerned with DC, thereby — in my opinion — giving all the power to DC. We need strong, local political and social movements. We need stronger towns. Strong towns make for better public safety. Better public health. More freedom for the markets to pick and choose winners and losers. Again, we are being divided on issues that are national and are then being prepped to import the partisanship back into our communities where the issues are much more practical. You can hear it clearly during the interview. We actually want to argue — not because we actually know more, but because we have been taught that certain people with certain ideas are wrong and always wrong — about everything. The political system of today is framing the argument all wrong. It is being framed in a way that makes it easy for campaign managers and pollsters to spin into money. Don’t buy it. Focus on what is generating productivity and wealth in your own life and the life of your neighborhood and it will be a lot easier to formulate knowledgeable positions on topics like The Fair Tax or transportation.
I don’t want to end with you assuming fatalism should be embraced and we should simply just opt-out of the political party system we have. Please vote. But don’t vote based on party lines. Vote for the man or woman with the most character and for whom you believe will fight to bring the power back to our neighborhoods. Vote for stronger towns and we will have a stronger America.