All Politics Is Local


We are still a few months away from the first votes being cast and many voters are already sick and tired of presidential politics.

Whether it’s fatigue with the latest “Trumpism” or exhaustion with the Clinton’s history, Americans seem restless, more than a little anxious and increasingly wary that solutions are going to come from Washington.

The latest Rasmussen Poll says 63 percent of Americans think the country is moving in the wrong direction; a whopping 35 percent more than the 28 percent of Americans who like what’s happening.

The President’s approval rating is in negative territory and voters seem to prefer root canal to Congress.

But all across America, citizens seem happier with their local government. With the notable exception of Rahm Emanuel in Chicago, Mayors across the USA seem to be thriving. We are in a golden age for cities, with new investments being made in the arts, housing, infrastructure and placemaking.

Jobs are being created, technology hubs are incubating new businesses and entrepreneurial ecosystems are being put together—sometimes in unlikely places.

Baby boomers and millennials are seeking compact, walkable and vibrant communities. Even suburbia is beginning to add urban amenities to attract talent and investment.

I see it in South Florida, where Miami is exploding with energy and smaller towns such as Delray and Boca are attracting record investments and interesting entrepreneurs seeking small town charm with big city amenities that include culture and an incredible food scene.

Austin—long a bastion of cool– is riding its music scene, the South by Southwest Festival and the University of Texas to great heights—literally– with investments that include The Independent, a 58-story “jenga” style condominium that is said to be the tallest residential building west of the Mississippi River.

Story after story is being written about Detroit’s renaissance, the marvelous investment by Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert in the downtown and the wonderful resilience of Detroit entrepreneurs who are breathing new life into abandoned buildings and neighborhoods.

Oklahoma City, a bastion of conservatism, has invested in its downtown and has become a magnet for businesses and an example of how quality of life can improve as a result of local leadership and strategic government spending.

All across the U.S., Mayors are not bogged down by partisanship and city governments are free of Washington’s pathologies (special interest money, endless politics, a byzantine legislative process) and therefore can innovate and gasp…actually get things done and move a community forward.

Imagine that.

I think most Americans do; which is why there is so much anger and discontent from sea to shining sea.

Americans are doers, problem solvers, leaders. It’s in our DNA as a nation. But Washington no longer reflects that American ethos. And it hasn’t for a long time.

The best leaders in our nation are sadly not running for president, but a few are running for local office and many are seeking to solve the world’s problems through entrepreneurial efforts. In the best case scenario, those who aspire to build their cities can work with entrepreneurs to grow their local economies and solve some of America’s challenges. We are seeing that in Ithaca, NY where a young mayor, Svante Myrick, has created innovative job programs and has linked environmentalism to urbanism and vice versa.

Perhaps we can get our country moving again by focusing less on the bombastic, cynical and nasty nature of our national politics and more on the practical, solution-oriented and potential of local leadership.


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