Saturday, November 21, 2009

All Politics is Local

Helping out a political campaign means dialing a lot of numbers. I could not even guess the number of phone calls I made this year.

Political phone calls can be annoying. People don't like to talk politics. They say they are eating dinner (even though it's 3 p.m. in the afternoon). While I don't blame them, calls from a campaign volunteer are far less invasive than many other uninvited conversations.

At least when I call I am not selling something.

At least I am advocating for a cause I believe strongly about.

And, for the most part, at least I am a neighbor.

Former House Speaker Tip O'Neil was right. All politics is local. During this past political campaign, the most effective conversations I had were with people who lived on my street. Voters who lived in the same precinct as me.

I guess it should be the case in a municipal election (like the one we just had in Boston), that people care about the issues that they see on their block or that they talk about when they are getting a cup of coffee.

On Beacon Hill, where I live, the biggest issues are trees, trash and a neighborhood school. Cleaning up my streets is an ongoing battle, not helped by the amount of time trash can legally be placed on the curb, and the fact that there's little space in the average Beacon Hill apartment for storing trash. That being said, neighbors seem to be appreciative of recent efforts to keep streets tidy, including the city's strict enforcement of posted street sweeping signs.

One of the most innovative partnerships between Beacon Hill and the city involves trees. The Beacon Hill Civic Association has a process to allow neighbors to efficiently prune and replace trees on their streets, based on a close relationship with the Boston Parks Department.

Young families on Beacon Hill are very interested in a neighborhood school. While improving Boston's schools is not as simple as building more schools, the energy from these families is refreshing.

Every conversation I had this campaign season with a Beacon Hill neighbor focused on a local issue. Tip O'Neil would be proud.

1 comment:

ben said...

Hey Ross -- I'm not sure Tip O'Neill was making a positive or negative statement with "all politics is local." You seem to believe it was a positive statement. I take it as negative. Its a shame that folks around Beacon Hill, the most privileged in the city, made broad based political decisions on issues such as those you listed rather than bigger picture stuff (economic development, education) that has far reaching implications.