I voted Tuesday in Rapid City’s* city election and agonized over how to cast my votes. It took me longer to drive to the polls than it did to vote, and I was sweating it out the entire way. Then I held my breath and filled in the little ovals, hoping I had decided correctly.
For all of the big-time campaigns and candidates I’ve covered, nothing in politics gets me quite so anxious as a local election. Watching the coverage of Mitchell’s city manager debate and Rapid City’s billboard debate, I had an ah-ha moment.
In local elections, people still feel their votes will have an impact.
Those in power truly fear the local ballot (even the state ballot in SD), and thank South Dakota’s founders for giving us the initiative and referendum to balance out the power structure. Imagine if that were in place on the national scale.
Imagine if you felt that your vote for president or governor carried the same weight as your vote for mayor.
When I returned home from voting, my husband and I had what my parents used to call a “loud discussion” over our respective choices and why one or the other of us hadn’t properly considered all the angles. When we discuss national politics, it’s usually to agree about how somebody stepped in it and, thusly, doomed their cause. Rarely are there heated arguments about substantive policy questions.
Tip O’Neill’s old axiom still holds true. All politics are local. And to me, local politics are as good as it gets for voters.
*I work from home in Rapid City, updating the Daily Republic website, blogging and covering SD’s congressional delegation a little bit.