Red Alert

Letter from America- All politics is local

Posted by on October 30th, 2012

As a storm of biblical proportions hits the east coast of the United States it is absorbing most of the TV time on the networks, but here in Austin, Texas where I am beginning my election observation visit, it was not the lead story on the local affiliate station I watched tonight, or last night. They led with a worrying local road toll and a dispute over helicopter flights over a suburb respectively.

That’s not to say that people in Austin don’t care about the tragic and damaging events on the esst coast, but it goes to prove the old adage that all politics is local. And that is the story of the presidential election. The electoral college system ensures that local(state) concerns matter. A small economic pick up in Ohio matters as a swing state for Obama. A factory closure in Virginia might favour Romney. Ignore the nationwide polls. They will all be close. It’s Ohio, Virginia, Florida etc and their local issues that will make the difference.

It also means that the on the ground campaign will be everything. Despite all the sophisticated targeting and data management systems both camps are saying that there is nothing that beats door knocking and direct phone calls from volunteers to motivate people to vote.

But the real “local” issue now for millions of Americans is the damage and chaos in their lives from Sandy. As I write the news is coming through that six million people are without power. Who knows how that will affect the election, with some suggesting power might not be reconnected by polling day in some places. But rightly that is not the focus for now as people deal with death and destruction. Mother nature is no respecter of the political calendar, and right now my thoughts are with those communities dealing with the carnage.


6 Responses to “Letter from America- All politics is local”

  1. Ivy says:

    It’s interesting how no media here seems to care about Northern Hemisphere hurricanes unless it’s hitting the US. Media coverage was pretty thin when this system was killing people and causing vast damage in Cuba, the Bahamas, and Jamaica. Now it’s hitting the US and it’s Armageddonpocalpse-Storm of Doom all over the NZ media. (see also: general ho hum in NZ media about big typhoons striking SE Asia)

  2. SPC says:

    Well, given the involvement of Geoffrey Palmer and Fran Wilde in promoting the City takeover (its reps would dominate a super council) of the wider region – against strong opposition in many of the local council areas – Labour needs to be careful not to be seen driving this.

    A unitary council allows the indebted central city council to spread its debts across the region and finance itself from a greater revenue base – giving outer area councils pocket money in return. It also then unifies regional utilities (makes them more attractive on scale for privatisation to foreign buyers) and can privatise them over outer council opposition – not possible at present.

    The alliance between big city bureaucrats taking over the wider region and then extrapolating resources to themselves and being in a position to go onto asset stripping is as bad as the naked corporate greed that Labour is supposed to be holding to account.

  3. bbfloyd says:

    SPC… Geoffry Palmer hsn’t been any sort of real Labour man for as long as I can remember…. I don’t think there is any danger of the public getting confused on just who is driving this change….

    Indeed, Palmer was well and truly in the same camp as the “great traitor”, Roger Douglas….About as true Labour as the next doors cat….

    You’re right to be concerned though…Watching the Auckland council trying to do it’s job with one hand tied behind it’s back has been rather nerve wracking, to say the least…

  4. Hilary says:

    Grant, any talk over there of climate change being behind the latest (and possibly future) storm? or of doing anything about it?

  5. Jeremy says:

    No Hilary – Most of the spurious talk like that in the US revolves around the book of revelation and countless end is nigh evangelical nutters.
    Most climate scientists /meteorologists for the last thirty years have been trying to get people to look at the data showing that earthquakes, storms and super-storms have not been increasing in number or strength, but are increasing in media coverage and property values/ population size. Causality and linkages in natural systems are not as simple as more fires with greater human population or flooding with deforestation.

  6. SPC says:

    bbfloyd, Labour has tried to represent the democratic position against government imposed changes in Auckland and Canterbury local governance, so it should do the same here. Grant has made this point, but only as a local MP at this stage – not yet as a position of the Labour Party.

    Palmer and Wilde are using fear of a government imposed change to organise consent to it – manipulating an appeasment of the feared tyrant (no wonder labour protection got diminished to their present anti-union condition). Labour should say that electing them into power in 2014 ends any fear of a change imposed by central government.