Local Politicians: America's Achilles Heel

The American system cannot function without local government. Our federal government is responsible for foreign policy and regulating commerce, but the decisions that have the most direct, immediate impact upon our daily lives are left to the states, and by extension, the leaders of our local communities to whom much -- too much -- authority has been delegated. Local government has one of the greatest responsibilities within the American system: the security and protection of Americans.  It falls upon local government, using local law enforcement, to protect our lives, liberty, and property.

Responsive, responsible local government can be a blessing: potholes are repaired, crime is curbed and businesses thrive. Unresponsive, irresponsible local government is a nightmare. In the past several weeks, we have seen far too much of the latter. Indeed, the most significant unmasking caused by the ongoing riots and the ongoing pandemic scare, has been the complete ineffectualness of many of our local governments and politicians.  

When there is an instance of the police failing to protect and serve because of an institutional or ethical breakdown from within, it is a problem that needs to be rectified and made subject to reform.  When the police are unable to effectively protect and serve all citizens because of budgetary woes, it is a problem that needs to be solved at the ballot box by the election of persons who know how to balance a budget and properly discern what is, and more importantly what isn’t, an essential role of government.

When the police are ordered not to protect and serve, but rather to ignore criminal acts, it is a damning indictment of local government and the leaders who inhabit its narrow-minded halls.  When local government acts to defund, even dismantle, law enforcement, it is the undemocratic repudiation of the natural rights of law-abiding citizens and proof positive that our local leaders in government are lacking in the necessary courage and discernment required to lead. 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is a perfect example of a failing local leader in way over his head. Garcetti is the son of Gil Garcetti, whom Angelenos will fondly remember as the district attorney who made the fateful and political decision to file the case against O.J. Simpson in downtown Los Angeles even though the murders took place within the Santa Monica Judicial District.  Prior to becoming mayor, Eric Garcetti parlayed his considerable experience in extended academia and being Gil Garcetti’s son into a seat on the LA City Council.  This is a background perfectly suited for someone who has shown an astonishing lack of regard for working citizens, the businesses on which they rely, or the property they own during the present crises.

Capping a long, impressive streak of dumb proclamations and declarations, including suggesting that members of the LAPD put down their batons and “walk hand-in-hand” with the same rioters who were then torching LAPD vehicles, attacking officers, and looting numerous businesses, Garcetti recently declared that water and power would be shut off to any residence caught hosting a “large house party.”  What exactly constitutes a gathering that is too “large?” Can/should a mayor shut off water and power to privately owned residences during the dog days of summer, two utilities that the State of California and Garcetti’s own Housing Authority have explicitly deemed essential services necessary for habitation? Is this an appropriate area of focus for an already overextended municipal police force potentially facing a budget cut of $150 million thanks to a myopic city council?

Flickr, Cave Canem

These are inconvenient questions for a mayor far too busy serving as a co-chair in Joe Biden’s campaign to concern himself with the welfare of law-abiding citizens depending on him for the protection of their lives, liberties and property. Here is an additional one: is Garcetti responsibly exercising his power in a manner that is reasonable in proportion to the situation and respectful of his constituents’ constitutional rights or is this simply another example of petty overreaching by a small-minded politician? Well, it is COVID after all, and “orange man bad,” so naturally Garcetti tossed what trace amount of sense he had remaining overboard.

Garcetti is hardly the only “not ready for prime-time player” currently running local government in circles. Like something akin to being given the special sunglasses by Rowdy Roddy Piper in They Live and discovering that the local ruling class are actually aliens sponging off an oblivious society, we are now awakening to the reality that our local governments are littered with lightweights who are not made of the sturdy timber required to withstand the normal pressures of city hall, much less the Molotov cocktails of Antifa. 

Another prime example is Mayor Todd Wheeler of Portland, who chose to side with armed and violent rioters as opposed to the law enforcement officials desperately trying to restore order and prevent further bedlam -- all while being simultaneously heckled by those very same rioters.  Wheeler is that substitute teacher, the one we all remember from middle school, who tried desperately to be “cool” as he was being lied to, manipulated, and pelted with spitballs by rambunctious students who could smell fear and weakness like prowling wolves. 

I could go on and on… and on with more examples, but you already know the sorry state of local government all too well, not because you have seen it on CNN, but because it is now affecting your lives, liberties, and property.  Let these events be a lesson for all of us: local elections are important and we can no longer entrust any level of government to incompetents.

It is we, the people, who ultimately suffer the consequences of failing local government. It is only we, the people, who can elect better leaders in the future.

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