Run For Your Precinct is an educational endeavor devoted to the concept that the solution to our nation's most vital political issues lies at the precinct level.

The Main Problem with American Politics!!!

Without knowing it, Americans have significantly abandoned the most essential office of politics - that of the party precinct man. Worse yet, all too often they've left it to be filled by those who have a vested interest in politics. The excessive influence of this segment within the parties is the hidden, yet primary cause of our political troubles. It's a very big deal, but practically no one speaks of it.

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In recent decades, the two major parties have effectively shown little interest in educating people about the precinct position; it’s importance or how to run for it. As a result, too few seek it – which tends to suit just fine those who do. These, let's say, more active individuals disproportionately share something in common: their close ties to local or county government.

Keep in mind, we’re not talking about your average cop, teacher, firefighter or librarian. Rather, we're talking about people who fall into other, more specific groups tied in with local and county government (as opposed to state or federal). These include:

  • government administrators and their staffers
  • government officeholders, elected or appointed
  • public employee union officials
  • private sector workers whose business is closely tied to government
  • and friends, family and business associates closely tied to any of the above.

If you recklessly use labels, you might refer to these types as bureaucrats, pols, union hacks, cronies and hangers-on. But that'd be needlessly insulting and somewhat unfair. Besides, the real problem isn't that these types are pursuing their self-interests. It's that too few of the rest of us are pursuing ours.

If you're still struggling to get a mental picture of this, there’s a place you can probably see plenty of these more active people gathered together. It’d be any meeting of your local county Republican committee.

Let’s say you attend a meeting where Republicans control a major part of local or county government. If you’re unfamiliar with the crowd there, you wouldn’t recognize who you’d be looking at. But an insider could sort it out for you.

He'd tell you, those three people are from the prosecutor's office. That guy, that guy, that lady, and those two over there – they’re township trustees. Those three work in the commissioners’ office. He’s a commercial developer, and the one next to him is a township financial officer. Those two are from the sheriff’s department. That guy’s a court bailiff. He’s with the board of elections. She’s with social services. He’s a judge. That guy contracts with the county. Those two are on a zoning board. He’s from the engineer’s office. She’s with county planning. He’s with the recorder’s office. She’s clerk of a school board. He’s a lawyer running for municipal court clerk... and on and on it goes. Very soon you'd begin to realize, most of these folks are heavily tied in with the local public sector.

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If you had some kind of special visual ability to detect this sub-group, the same crowd would be easier to understand.

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And if you studied the few private sector people in the room, you might notice how disconnected they would appear. It'd be as if they were the only ones in the room who didn't know everyone else... as if they had mistakenly walked into someone else's office party. More puzzling, they might wonder why the others didn't seem to care if next to nothing was accomplished during the meeting.

What these private sector people wouldn't understand is, they’d be looking mainly at public sector people who knew each from work. Which is why they had plenty to gab about. As for nothing happening, well, for public sector types, that wouldn't be too terrible. After all, most of them would just be there to keep an eye on their job interests.

But all county Republican committees aren’t like this. In counties where Republicans have little power in local or county government, the gathering might appear more scaled down and elderly.

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If you wondered where the missing people were, they’d be across town attending the Democrat meeting. This type tends to show up wherever the power is.

The problem is pretty simple. Too many Republican committees are made up of too many people from the local public sector. When they’re in the majority, it spells trouble. And if you think they routinely command such majorities, because that reflects the preferences of the party's voting base - then you don't understand how things are done in party politics. Read about that here.

What's more, it's not enough to recognize that too many precinct men are tied to local and county government. One also needs to understand the significance of those ties.

For instance, you might know an accountant who draws a small salary for being a part-time township official. You might guess his township pay would be rather insignificant compared to what he makes in his private accounting practice. Still, you might be surprised to learn how important that office is to him.

Though his pay might be meager, the public office might tie him in with a relatively attractive health care plan offered by the township. Moreover, every year he serves in office would count towards the state’s public employee pension plan. The number of years he racks up might mean far more than what he ever pays in. This is because what a public pension system pays out is typically based on the number of years you're in the system, and what you earn in your last three years of employment.

Your friend might serve for years making next-to-nothing as a part-time official. But he may be biding his time, hoping one day to advance to a more lucrative position, such as a state representative or a county official. Serving just a few years in one of those offices could result in a nice pension for his retirement years. If your friend happens to be a Republican committeeman, that kind of thinking is very likely to dominate the way he approaches party decisions.

Likewise, someone who’s an assistant in the county's office of Senior Services, might hope some day to advance or even head up the department. Such a person might be very interested in building up political connections, which can be made at party meetings.

It's these kinds of occupational concerns which typically corrupt what happens within local party committees. Obviously, if most of the precinct men are financially tied in with local or county government, who's going to push for budget cuts? Who's going to oppose the local boondoggle? One hand washes the other, and spending’s going to go up, along with taxes. Everyone goes along to get along.

Moreover, what kind of party candidates are these public sector types likely to support? If you listen to what's said, you might hear some political rhetoric spouted here and there. But it hardly enters into the decision-making. Instead, it’s mostly about who-owes-who and whose-turn-is-it? Not surprisingly, endorsements are seldom given to anyone unconnected to the public sector.

The solution then is pretty simple. More individuals from the private sector need to step forward to run for their precincts. Right now too many committees consist of too many public sector people. When a proper balance of representation is approached by either of the two parties, the voters will start getting the kind of representation they need.