Municipal matters

War and peace will not be decided in Washington or Baghdad. It will be decided on Richmond Hill, North Louisiana Avenue and in many similar places. It will be decided by the willingness of municipal governments to cooperate with military activities and then by the ability of municipal officials to use those records to run for higher office. When that great liberal strategist Tip O’Neil said “all politics is local politics,” he meant it, and it is a lesson that seems to have been forgotten by the entire progressive community, with the sole and lonely exception of the Mountain Xpress.

The presidential election is more than a year away, yet most of us—especially in the progressive community—focus on and know far more about the presidential candidates than about the municipal candidates whose elections are imminent. We have issues to resolve, like the dramatic opposition to stream buffers by affordable-housing nonprofits like Mountain Housing Opportunities, before progressives can possibly speak with a unified voice on any level of government.

Progressive change can’t just magically appear on the national scene. It must work its way up from the bottom. It must start with municipal government, even war and peace. There is just no way to achieve any national viability without winning on the municipal level first on any issue, which is something known even by former Mayor Dennis Kucinich, and played out by the city councils of Aurora, Ill., on abortion, and New York City on Iranian relations.

— Alan Ditmore

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