Pulling the Local Strings from DC

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If you’re looking for a spot-on analysis of how this year’s elections are going to be both nationalized and local, don’t miss today’s column by E. J. Dionne in the Washington Post:

The blogosphere has created central repositories of political information — including news of very local developments that would otherwise go unnoticed on the national level — that can speed the flow of intelligence to activists across the nation. And the recruitment of candidates is ever more the job of national party committees, not local officials or organizations.

The result is that the conventional debate about whether congressional elections are primarily local or national in character is both irrelevant and misleading. Even apparently local developments are often orchestrated from afar, and even personal attacks on individual candidates are largely the work of a cadre of Washington-based researchers.

I could spin off a thought or two on this, but not as deftly as Dionne does. He nails it and today’s column is must reading if you want to understand an important element of this year’s elections.

If you’ve got no time to read it, I’ll cut to his final point: “ … in 2006 the local is not really local, everything is about controlling Washington, and ‘independence’ is a product being franchised by a national party apparatus.”

Maybe it was inevitable that the McDonaldization of America would pop up in the political world, but it’s depressing nonetheless. Not only are mom and pop retail stores a fast-receding memory, so are mom and pop candidates – you know, the ones with their own ideas, without canned slogans that mesh with everybody else’s canned slogans.

What it boils down to is this: the battle this year over the balance of power in Congress is too important to leave local campaigns to the local candidates. Washington knows better.

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