David Brooks, the conservative columnist a the New York Times, wrote a recent column about localism called, The Localist Revolution. Read it here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/19/opinion/national-politics-localism-populism.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fopinion&action=click&contentCollection=opinion®ion=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=5&pgtype=sectionfront
It’s a throw-back to a hundred years ago. Across the country, positive change is occurring at the local level. It doesn’t get the attention of the national media. In addition, the noise out of the White House obliterates almost everything else. But good things are happening in neighborhoods, cities, and counties. It’s called localism.
David Brooks suggests we’ve been through liberalism, conservatism, and populism. All of them fail Americans because of the dysfunction in Washington. Let’s try localism. It simply means that, as much as possible, we should solve our common problems at the city, county, or state level. We shouldn’t depend on Washington to solve them.
I saw localism in the courts of the county where I worked as a trial lawyer. The judiciary developed a specialty court called “Drug Court.” It allowed judges to deviate from the tough sentencing laws on the books. If an offender completed treatment and stayed straight, they had a chance to stay our of jail and keep their records clean. The problem of too many low level offenders in jail was solved at the local level. The Drug Court proved to be a success.
Here’s another example. Michael Bloomberg (former Republican mayor of New York) teamed with Carl Pope (former president of The Sierra Club). Together, they tackled pollution in New York City with simple, less expensive, and successful methods. They didn’t wait for Washington to do the work. They worked with city/county politicians and business owners in the city.
Almost everyone I know has little confidence or respect for the elected people in Washington. But they know, personally, their state representatives and may even have coffee with their mayors. The level of trust and understanding between elected officials and the people is high. Localism brings trust with it to accomplish things.
At the national level, most politicians refuse to cooperate with each other in order to remain ideologically pure to their districts. But at the local level, there is no ideology. People want their streets fixed, affordable housing provided for less fortunate people, good schools, and a clean environment. All this is localism and it’s getting things done.
Look around your neighborhood and you’ll spot great things happening that you may have missed!