Russell Brunelle (russellb) wrote,
Russell Brunelle

Federal, state, and county

I thought a bit today about how, as long-distance communication and mobility improve, popular attention always seems to shift to the next higher level of organization.

For example, the county seat, and specifically the courthouse at the county seat, used to be a big deal: in a general sense, it was what people oriented their daily lives toward. Symbolic of this was the importance of the tower clock at the county courthouse, set higher than anything around it, which people would set their clocks by: one Oregon county even opted to go for a courthouse clock over fire-proof storage for their records, to the horror of the engineer who recommended the fire-proof storage.

Then, for a while in our country, it seemed like attention shifted from the county seat to the state capitol.

Now, all the popular focus seems to be on the federal government, as if ONLY its behavior affects the quality of our lives.

But the irony is that for most people, the earliest of those views is in many ways still correct: it's still the lowest level of government with jurisdiction over you which generally influences how the land around you is used, and hence what your daily life looks like.

As a related matter, here's an interesting thought experiment: if you didn't take in any form of news, and didn't listen to any conversations about politics, is there some way you could reliably figure out based on only your everyday life which political party is in power at the state level, much less the federal level?
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