All politics is local, people say, “politics” being one of those strange terms that feels singular, but sounds plural. Politics is local? Politics are local? Both sound vaguely right and vaguely wrong.
But let’s go with politics is local, exemplified by that most local of democratic exercises, the Iowa caucuses (plural, not singular). Whatever the results Monday night (after my column deadline), the Democrats are the winners because they have three (yes, three) serious people running for president. As Danielle Allen, a political theorist at Harvard University, pointed out recently in a Washington Post opinion piece, Martin O’Malley, the forgotten candidate in this race, also has serious ideas that deserve a hearing.
So Democrats have an embarrassment of riches, whereas Republicans simply have an embarrassment — no serious candidates and no detectable ideas.
Just so we’re clear, repealing Obamacare is not an idea. It is the negation of an idea. Deporting immigrants and prohibiting refugees is not an idea. It is the negation of an idea. Cutting taxes on the super-rich and cutting social programs for the poor is not an idea. It is the negation of an idea. Shutting down government every couple of years is not an idea. It is the negation of an idea. Eliminating government oversight and regulation is not an idea. It is the negation of an idea. Refusing to invest in our infrastructure and in education is not an idea. It is the negation of an idea.
Ideas are positive. If any Republican has an idea, I haven’t heard it.
So Democrats should be celebrating, but locally they’ve been sniping at each other — on Facebook and probably other social media — because support for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is equally strong. One candidate emphasizes realism, the other idealism. One says the way to get to idealism is down the long road of realism. The other insists it’s realistic to be idealistic and espouses the fierce urgency of now.
Democrats (and progressives who usually vote Democratic) should stop the sniping. We’re lucky to have such good people running. Imagine what it must be like to be a Republican these days.
Democrats (and democrats) will sort all this out in the coming months. In the meantime, leave panic mode (and internecine warfare) to the angry old white people’s party.
Besides, we have all we can handle with state-level politics. Last week, I heard from an angry friend, who made the mistake of parking in the Holley Court Garage in Downtown Oak Park. When she came back an hour later, she had a ticket for an expired license plate sticker.
The fingerprints of politicians are all over this. Thanks to Gov. Wronger holding the state budget hostage, the Secretary of State’s Office was desperate to save money, so they stopped sending out reminders about license plate sticker renewals. Which means many residents, most of whom are perfectly willing to pay but have approximately 10 million more important things in their lives to think about, are learning (the hard way) their license plate stickers have expired.
If your sticker has expired, you can try navigating the website, but you’ll be reminded how much Kafka would have loved the state of Illinois. You’ll need a PIN number, which you don’t have because you didn’t receive a reminder notice. So you have to wait on hold for an indeterminate amount of time until you reach the person whose job it is to look up PIN numbers. Or you can just go to a local Department of Motor Vehicle location and renew it, along with paying the $40 late fee. As some have pointed out, Jesse White is saving money by not sending out renewal reminders, but the state is also making money with the resulting late fees.
The local part of this political fiasco is that the village of Oak Park now seems to have jumped on the revenue-generating bandwagon. Our crack parking enforcement team is evidently patrolling the parking garage and ticketing anyone they find with expired stickers — at $20 a reminder.
They’re sending the wrong message to people who park there to support local businesses: We’re playing gotcha so we can game the system at your expense.
So much for creating a more welcoming commercial environment.
Back in December, we covered predatory towing from the parking lot near Pier One (a privately owned lot, not the village’s fault) and now this (which is the village’s fault).
No doubt parking enforcement will defend their efforts by saying, “we’re simply enforcing the law,” but when the village sees an opportunity to generate revenue by more aggressively enforcing a law they only loosely enforced in the past, it feels predatory. Too many people are suspicious of government already (see results from the Republican caucuses in Iowa).
Politics is about human nature, which makes the local level universal. It also makes national and state politics local.
Not to mention personal — like a slap in the face.