All Locales are Political

Barry Dredze
4 min readMar 19, 2021
Vigil for the victims of the Atlanta area shootings in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., on March 17, . (Photo by Shuran Huang for The New York Times)

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…

Barry Dredze

Just another mortal, tweaking my cognitive map on the fly.