My blog post regards instances I saw that mimicked Democratic erosion at the Federal Level, on the local level during my political event.
During my political event I attended a local town hall meeting in Henry county. The town hall meeting consisted of local propositions being confirmed or denied by the chairmen and by the Mayor. The chairmen were local representatives of different districts throughout the town. The meet was held inside of the city court house/Public safety building. The representatives and the Mayor sat where the Judge would normally sit in any court hearing.
The purpose of this meeting was to approve or deny local propositions by citizens of the city. All sorts of proposals were presented, at which point the panel would say either yay or nay and approve or disapprove the proposals. For the most part the event went as I predicted it would go, with both yay’s and nay’s. Proposals that seemed to benefit the town unanimously got yay’s and the ones that related to the individual got a mix of both. Out of all the propositions that were denied one was finally approved although it took longer than it should’ve.
The proposition was that a local tattoo shop be allowed to open on main street. I spoke with the owners of the shop after the meeting, who had success in other towns but weren’t so fortunate here, as their request kept being met with “nay” by the representatives of the city district who vote on local issues. The owners couldn’t get approved because they kept getting a nay response and the kept trying and it got to the point in which the mayor who breaks ties if there are any told the owners that they should expect at least one nay vote, and that if it came to a tie that he would vote yay on their behalf because of the resiliency and determination that the entrepreneurs were showing. Although they finally received enough yays from the chairmen, should it have been this hard? And why was their no hesitation on issues regarding transportation, allocation of resources, development and expansion, roads and parking? Could it be because these things were more important to the politicians than the individuals?
This imitated democratic erosion in two ways, first people in positions of power staying in power, second making something unnecessarily difficult for somebody else because powerholders don’t approve of it. Its believed that the councilmen grew up in a time when tattoos were shunned and now that they’re becoming more common, it means that more people are wanting them. Is it right to impede upon peoples desires because you don’t like them? There’s a good chance that these same people are the ones who voted for the councilmembers in the first place.
Second what options would the store owners have if they wanted to try again with new council members? They tried before with the same and the result was the same. I believe this can be attributed to term limits. People often speculate about the term limits of Congress but never about the term limits of local Municipalities. The local level is often felt just as much If not more than at the federal level.
Should there be mandatory term limits on local politicians? Can or does the fact that local representatives have a potential unlimited time in power hinder democracy closer to home? It often seems that the local politicians control their power in ways that mimic larger politicians. In reading democratic erosion readings one of the ways this is done is by “controlling the referees” and by “putting friends in power”. The emphasis seems to be on the major political players much more than the minor ones. In what ways could corruption take place at the local level? Its fair to say that any and all levels are susceptible to corruption. Bribery is probably the most common level, although if you were to ask most people including myself only recognize bribery at the federal level and the though of local bribery seldom seems to cross my mind. I believe that if this is to be stopped we must act locally first, where it matters first, and where it impacts us first.
I think that bringing attention back to the local level regarding democratic erosion is an important issue that I hadn’t really considered before. It’s easy to get caught up in the federal government, particularly with all of the media coverage of this specific presidency. I see a lot more discussion of local democratic erosion in the literature studying other nations. I think that this can be contributed, in part, to the effect that local government has on higher levels of government. I don’t believe that democratic erosion is taking place at the local level in the US to a degree so strong as to affect the functioning of higher government, whereas this may be the case in other states. That being said, I agree that it is an important issue to monitor and attention in the US should not be solely devoted to the highest levels of government. After all, populism can be mobilized first at the grassroots level without threatening American democracy as a whole, but can quickly gain support and have far-reaching implications. Great post!