Sunday, November 27, 2016

Civics Engineering

There's been a lot of blather about Party hegemony this election season, and while I don't entirely discount it, I also know that it's a lot harder to be elitist on the local level. Every newly registered voter in our county is invited to join the local committee. What we haven't been good at is educating people about what that means. And of course, it's hard to get past the fact that upper-class, educated elites are society's joiners, which perpetuates that kind of hegemony. I carried baby Olivia in a car seat to committee meetings, but not every parent can do that.

I just took the opportunity to do some of that initial, critical educating in my first column for Tompkins Weekly. They reached out to me post-election, probably feeling sorry for us, but offering me 800 words monthly, which I happily accepted. It gives me a chance to do the kind of outreach and education (what's a caucus? how do I run for office? when do I need to re-register to vote?) that we as a committee have not been able to do because local media have been generally loath to help us do it. (When I've advertised for potential candidates, the response of the Ithaca Journal has typically been: "That's your job, not ours.")

We'll make the effort, but again, it comes down to how many people take the time to read 800 words on civics in a local paper with modest readership. Many other steps will be necessary to reach the people who should be included but currently are not.

Most people have no clue how the electoral process works; that was evidenced by how many otherwise educated people were flummoxed by the primary system in NYS (which is stupid and exclusive but really very simple). Paul thinks it's because we no longer teach civics (we do, but not terribly well).  I think it's because people don't much care how the sausage is made until it makes someone sick.

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