You can have good local government if you show up to vote for it.
This weekend, do not neglect to research candidates for local office in your community. For in many ways, the people who serve in your local government will have more influence on your everyday life than those in the federal government.
That is the way our constitutional republic was designed.
In the minds of America’s founders, the powers of the federal government were intended to be limited, while the state and local governments were intended to bear the brunt of government work.
As James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution, explained in Federalist 45:
“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”
Essentially, the role of the federal government, as intended by the Founding Founders, was limited in scope to national security, international trade, the maintenance of peaceable relations between the states, and the power to lay taxes to pay for those responsibilities.
The real action of government was meant to take place at the local level. Madison continues: “The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
This principle of separating the powers of the national and local governments, which we call federalism, is the key to having good and safe government. As Thomas Jefferson wrote:
[T]he way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defense of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man’s farm by himself; by placing under everyone what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best.
The national government has unquestionably exceeded those bounds today. And while its all-encompassing power may seem to make state and local governments less relevant, there are important battles being fought in governors’ mansions, the state legislatures, and town halls of America.
On the issues conservatives care about, it has been state governments, not the federal government, where we have achieved some victories.
In North Carolina, where most of the media attention is focused on the presidential race, Governor Pat McCrory (R) has held the line against the Left’s radical bathroom-bill demands. He is an extremely tight race with Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, who champions the Left’s radical gender-identity agenda.
Are your candidates for local and state office going to be willing to fight these fights?
Who is running for mayor in your town? City council? Supervisor? State senator, representative, or judge? Do you know the members of your local school board — those that make daily decisions about the welfare of your child? Are you aware of who runs your police department? Have they pledged to improve relations between the police and your community, for the safety and happiness of all?
If you don’t have the answer to these questions, take some time this weekend and educate yourself on the entirety of your ballot.
For the best government is that which governs closest to the people. And it is within your power as a voter to ensure that the government closest to you, in your community, is good government.