Bring Your Focus Home

A very important point was made on The Conservative Refuge this week (and if you haven’t already listened, shame on you) that needs to additional attention brought upon it.

My friend and colleague Greg Kline gave voters a “pep talk” about the importance of voting in this primary election because this is where the rubber really meets the road in electoral governance. And he’s right.

Far too many conservatives, both here in Maryland and across the country, focus far too much attention on national issues and get their pants in a bunch about things that are disconnected from their daily lives. You see it on Twitter and Facebook and talking among activists, people getting aggravated about foreign policy, the VA scandal, Benghazi, the Bundy Ranch, and whatever other topic of the day people are getting worked up about. Hey, it’s understandable to to be pissed off about a lot of those things; I am too! But the focus on things far afield means your eye and attention is being focused away from where it can do the most good.

Another point of emphasis comes from folks who are deeply invested in the results of elections beyond our state boundaries. I’m a political animal, and I watch these things with great interest. But I didn’t have a laser focus on Matt Bevin’s race in Kentucky, or on what happens in Mississippi or Kansas because I can leave that to the Kentuckians, the Mississippians, and the Kansans to figure out amongst themselves. I’m not wasting my time tweeting, making phone calls, or donating money to those races because the focus needs to be at home.

One of the stories I remember from a conference I attended a few years back was that Kristina Ribali, then with FreedomWorks, went on and on complaining about John Kitzhaber, the Governor of her home state or Oregon. She then went on to talk about all of the work she did organizing folks to make phone calls into Nevada for Sharron Angle during the 2010 General Election…..the same election with Kitzhaber was re-elected with by less than a 2% margin.

If you’re one of the folks who focuses on those national issues and don’t spend much time worrying about or even voting in Republican primary elections, you’re doing nothing but letting yourself and your family down. Worrying about events beyond our state borders is not something that is going to change your immediate station in life. But going down to the polls and voting for the candidates who will govern our state and our counties will have an immediate and drastic impact on the future. And volunteering for or supporting our primary winners in the General Election will have an even greater impact. Because everybody who gets involved in a state or local election is a force multiplier that will have an impact far beyond griping about Benghazi on Facebook will.

Don’t believe me? Well the Rain Tax wasn’t a creation of Washington, it was established by the Maryland General Assembly and was implemented by the ten county governments that were required to act on it.  If your Senator, Delegate, Councilmember, or Commissioner voted for that legislation, wouldn’t you like to do something about that?

What are the things that government does least efficiently or least effectively? Transportation; education; health policy; public safety. ALL of those things are impacted far more by what goes on in Annapolis, or Towson, or Rockville, or Cumberland or Westminster than by what’s going on in Washington or what’s being talked about on the talking head shows.

The impact of these state and local offices goes far beyond your county seat and beyond Annapolis as well. Think about how many statewide and national figures got their start with lower level offices:

  • President Obama was a State Senator;
  • Vice-Presiden Biden started as a County Councilman;
  • Senator Mitch McConnell was a County Executive;
  • Speaker John Boehner was a County Trustee and a State Representative;
  • Governor O’Malley started as a City Councilman;
  • Lt. Governor Brown was a Delegate;
  • Attorney General Doug Gansler was Montgomery County State’s Attorney.

It’s easy to focus on the things we have no control over. But these state and local offices, that’s something we do have control over. Get in the game and set the future in motion, starting with going to vote on June 24th. Do the most good here locally, where you will have the biggest impact for today and tomorrow.

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