Socially Local

Before this post gets started, two things. One, I want to give a special shout-out to a friend of mine, Alana, for giving me the idea for this post. Maybe not the way she wanted, but it sparked discussion, so there’s that, missy! The other thing is that this is not about supporting a candidate. By now, most of you know who I’m supporting, but this goes beyond the 2012 presidential election.

Among the myriad of issues we hear a lot about in high-profile races are social beliefs tossed into the political arena. Abortion, contraception, gay marriage and many other issues like this have plagued the election process in this year alone. And, even with the laundry list of fiscal and economic issues the nation is facing, the social is what divides us so strongly. PErsonal beliefs are more important than the state of the American economy, it would seem. I’m not knocking it, that’s just how it is.

My question, though, is why? The national is majority right-leaning right now. It’s an interesting phenomenon that if you poll people on how they feel about gay marriage, the majority supports it, but if you poll them on how they feel their neighbor would vote on the issue, you actually get numbers similar to the election results of those states that either pass or (more often than not) reject it. As a result, what we learn is that what people say does NOT always equal what they vote. I know, totally shocking, right?

So, the American public, as a whole, is not quite ready to accept what the more left-leaning population wants to propose. But, that’s nationwide. Locally, it’s a lot different. It’s so much easier to get those issues passed on a smaller scale. Red states are doing it with abortion laws. But, in some cases (like gay marriage), even the state level is incredibly difficult to get issues like gay marriage legalization to pass. We saw that in North Carolina and, even more shockingly, California, where the people actually voted to ban it.

As it’s no secret which way I’m voting this election cycle, it’s also no secret which way I lean on these issues: I am pro-gay marriage, pro-choice and (sometimes) even pro-legalization.

The fact is, regardless of a Republican or a Democratic president being in office for the next four years, it’s extremely unlikely anything so major as a nationwide opinion change on these issues will come about. Much more realistically, we’re several administrations away from true social change in that regard. So, how does one change that? You start locally.

Start with the city aldermen, councilmen or whatever your municipality has. Get people who support your ideas into office. Begin work at the community level to change things. Spread it naturally instead of jumping to the final level. You won’t have the support you need for that. But, locally, working on opinions there and getting your town, city or whatever to accept your social belief is much easier.

Let it spread organically. Start getting state representatives and state senators in power and get them to work on a state agenda. Eventually, you can change a state’s political sway. Louisiana is an excellent example, as it’s only recently a red state. Once you get state representatives to work on that agenda and the population is getting more and more comfortable with it, seek out candidates for the U.S. House. Keep moving on in this way and it makes much more sense than putting all your eggs in one basket and going with a presidential candidate who may or may not do it based on how the American public as a whole feels at the time.

This same theory applies to Libertarians, whose beliefs I subscribe to (most of the time). You are not, dear Libertarian friends, going to get Gary Johnson elected, and a vote for him tells us you really don’t care about change and you just want to make a meaningless protest vote. Start locally and let the movement spread.

Whether your religion dictates your belief, whether you have some other moral compass that calls you to lean one way or the other, don’t just let a national platform represent you. Start locally and push for the change.

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