Some of you who looked at the discussion forums may have noticed that the issues groups don't go any further than Bergen County. That was quite on purpose. I have a belief that one of the reasons why national politics is in such a mess is that people are paying so much attention on what is going on across the country or across the world, that they lose sight of what is happening on their own street."
In our nation today, the concept of "philosophy" has been greatly denigrated, which is a shame. Philosophy is the study of human thought. It is a dangerous study to the tyrant and the demagogue, and there are far too many of those running around. But that is a topic for another day. The only reason I bring it up is because I'm going to be delving into that dangerous area.
The United States was founded on several philosophical premises, combined with practical reality. On the philosophical side, the hierarchy of most governments was turned on it's head; instead of the rights being in the hands of the government, and emanating to the people, it was the other way around. People had rights; government had privileges, and served only on the approval of the people (this has been all too forgotten recently; I was aghast to see, in the New York Senatorial debates between Rick Lazio and Hillary Clinton in 2000, both of them make the assumption that the Bill of Rights grants rights to the people, rather than limits the ability of the government to interfere with the rights with which the people are born.) As such, the people should choose the government. However, very few people could be conversant on enough issues to be able to make a good choice. But people would know who they could trust, who did know the issues.
So a system was set up, by which local issues would be decided locally, national issues would be decided nationally, with a few levels in between. And everybody would vote for someone whom they knew personally. Other than strictly local governments, people would vote for their state legislators and national representatives from people a pool of people they knew personally. The state legislators would vote for the senators, also from a pool of people whom they knew personally. In general, on the executive level, the people wouldn't choose the President, whom they did not know, but they would choose electors, whom they did. The electors would do the research on the candidates, and make the final choices.
Well, this system fell apart rather quickly. The population grew quickly, and it became impractical to have enough representatives so that everybody could personally know their representatives. In addition, improved education and communications made it much easier for the average person to have a very good knowledge on the politics of the larger scales. Eventually, Senators were chosen by direct choice, electors became almost universally pledged to back a certain candidate based on popular vote, congressional districts grew to huge size, and everybody had an opinion on national issues.
But something got lost in all this: the local elections. Even in the primaries, so few people vote that, all too frequently, the candidates who would most likely win the national elections (and, arguably, the best candidates) get shut out in the primary process, because most people don't bother to vote except for President (and then complain vociferously at the lack of quality or even qualified candidates).
One of the purposes of this service is to get back to the roots; make people more aware of local issues. I don't care what my mayor, town council, or freeholders think of abortion, the Iraq war, or gay marriage. Their opinions can't change the policies on those issues. What I do care about is what their stands are on the schools, on the traffic light on Main Street, on the local parks and libraries, just for example. I'm hoping that local politicians will participate on this service; at the very least, I will be contacting them on a regular basis when issues come up in the discussion groups. But one thing I have learned is that, for good and ill, the local Democratic Party is NOT the same thing as the national Democratic Party, the local Republican Party is NOT the same thing as the national Republican Party, and there are a host of other parties who could never mean anything nationally, but can do quite a bit, locally.
So, I am asking you all to please participate in the local issues groups. Ask those questions which you never asked, because you were never quite sure to whom to ask them, or, were not quite sure that, even if you did, would anybody listen.
People are listening, now.