Massachusetts US Representative Tip O’Neil gets the credit for the old familiar expression, “all politics is local.” In an expression of civic and physical fitness, we took a nice little bike ride on an early spring day to the County Fairgrounds and voted early in our local consolidated elections. On Election Days my wife regularly serves as an election judge in our polling place and on April 6, I will again be poll watching. We have been doing these jobs for decades by now but it does not feel as long ago from the last time we did this. After all, it was only six months ago when early voting started for the 2020 election and judges are still throwing out lawsuits by Trump and his fascist death cult.
Politics is everywhere and we are all cursed with only one perspective. To perceive beyond ourselves we need empathy. But when all politics is local, empathy holds us back. Which makes the swift ease at which Republican dominated state legislatures have focused on “election reform” so compelling, especially after having ginned up a virtual panic over “electoral irregularities” that they have fabricated without any evidence in over 60 court cases.
Please bear with me while I try to tie a few seemingly disparate threads together. What I am trying to say is that, as voters, we cannot nor ought to limit our vision to our narrowest perspectives. If we suspect that our property taxes are too high, then we need to focus on where the responsibility lies for that tax levy. For example, the US Congress does not have the authority to levy taxes on your home. Where I live, that would be our County Assessor. So, complaining to my US Congressperson for my property tax bill makes as much sense as trying to hold my County Assessor responsible for my federal income tax bracket. It simply does not work that way.
Following the Sandy Hook shootings, the “Look for the helpers” quote by Mr. Rogers went viral. In the wake of the Atlanta metro area mass shooting at Asian-owned spas, my heart sinks as Asian friends of mine, along with so many friends of theirs, express their own heartbreak over the relative online silence of their non-Asian friends.
Sometimes the outrage needs to build on the initial shock of events. But, unfortunately, that is often not enough. I felt alot of what my friends express now after the Yom Kippur, 2019, shootings in Halle, Germany. That one came about a year after the big one at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh that resulted in alot of support, which was comforting.
But after Halle, one of the only significant non-Jewish demonstrations of support came from Antifa and, here in the States, the anti-antifascist smear campaign had already begun and flushed so much of that year-old vintage comfort down the proverbial tubes.
There are many among my neighbors who have no idea that our Township government had taken a couple hundred thousand dollars in federal covid relief funding and turned it over to the Canine Unit of our County Sheriff’s Office. A Sheriff, it should be noted, that refused to enforce our Jewish Governor’s pandemic response measures, saying that his deputies are not the governor’s “storm troopers.”
That sheriff, who was elected on a promise, among others, to defy sanctuary designations in communities within the County where they had been established, is not on the ballot for reelection this year. But the Township Board is.
Another sheriff’s office in Georgia briefed the press this week about the shooter who murdered eight people, mostly Asian women, in the shooting spree across three Atlanta metro area spas, explaining that the suspect in custody had “a bad day” and who previously shared a photo of racist t-shirts in a Facebook post from April, 2020, spoofing the Corona beer label that said “Covid 19 Imported Virus From CHY-na.”
“Love my shirt,” Cherokee County Sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker wrote. “Get yours while they last.” Being a “director of communications and community relations” at the sheriff’s office must have been a sweet spot to move alot of shirts.
Bottom line, we must bury our fascist master-race bullshit. Period. But it must occur locally — individually, in fact. And I want to work toward a humanity that can unite enough of us to really do it, even while I am pretty sure that alot of us won’t live long enough to see it happen. But despair is not an option.