The urgency of national news sometimes casts local politics into the shade. Watch out for that. I spent the last election season preaching “downballot” to anyone who would listen. I have no regrets, in view of some of the issues coming up in my area at the state and local levels that are sure to be reflected in federal policy a few years down the road. Furthermore, the candidates succeeding locally are apt to look to higher office sooner or later.

This came to mind as my Facebook feed kicked up a new ad, inviting me to “like” a Model Citizen’s new page. My internal alarms went off. This MC ran last cycle for mayor of the largest city in the state, and lost by a whisker. She’s back for another crack at it.

Ms. Model Citizen was endorsed last time around by EMILY’s List, which was established for exactly one reason: to elect pro-abortion women. Ms. MC downplayed that in her last campaign. The EMILY’s List material promoting her, knowing that the unrestricted-abortion line wouldn’t play well in the city, emphasized her aldermanic experience. I’m betting on the same game plan this time.

And when that happens, it’ll be last time all over again: ask any ten likely voters in that city if they’d support a pro-abortion candidate for mayor, and most would say no. Ask them if they’ve ever heard of EMILY’s List, and nine of them would go “huh?” But ask them if they’d support the alderman from ward X, and it’s a different story.

The last time the mayor of the largest city in the state ran for higher office, he wound up in Congress. Local experience and name recognition counted heavily.

It’s not just the prospect of upward mobility that gives me pause; it’s the more immediate effect on local policy. Who determines local school policies, as least as far the feds allow? Who lends credibility to certain groups by marching or volunteering with them? Who names volunteers to local committees? Who determines the priorities in municipal budgets?

Yup: the locals. While Sean Spicer is briefing reporters about developments in Washington, there’s plenty going on in your own town, without much publicity.

Watch those candidates, whenever your local elections may be. Watch those campaign finance reports. Shine a light on stealth efforts, like EMILY’s List mailings that fail to mention abortion advocacy. Care now, because you can be sure there are interest groups who would be happy for you to leave the caring to them.

Ellen Kolb blogs about New Hampshire life-issue policy at Leaven for the Loaf and looks farther afield in ellenkolb.com

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And if you aren’t inclined or in a position to kick in financial

Evan McMullin’s independent never-Trump-never-Hillary presidential campaign earned him 700,000 votes along with footnote status in future accounts of the 2016 presidential election. One bewildered supporter tweeted to him afterward, basically asking “what now?” McMullin responded on December 4 with a series of tweets that add up to two things: he’s still not a Trump fan, and he is a great believer in the power of civics.

The president-elect and McMullin seem to have no use for each other. A few of McMullin’s tweeted recommendations, though, apply to every voter vis-a-vis every elected official. They’re about civics and about being a citizen instead of a client. I doubt President-elect Trump would take issue with these three, for example.

  • “Read and learn the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Know that our basic rights are inalienable.”
  • “Identify and follow many credible sources of news. Be very well informed and learn to discern truth from untruth.”
  • “Support journalists, artists, academics, clergy and others who speak truth and who inform.”

McMullin also advised “Hold members of Congress accountable…” I’m partial to that one, coming as I do from a state that just sent a pro-abortion all-Dem delegation to Washington (while electing GOP majorities in our State House; go figure).

Even where McMullin’s December 4 tweets took Trump to task by name, they were grounded in civics: watch every word, decision and action of this Administration….Write, speak, and act when we observe violations of our rights and democracy. 

Call me old-fashioned, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s all essential no matter who’s in the White House or the State House or even the town hall. Maybe the prospect of Donald Trump’s presidency is prompting people to take a fresh look at the things they ought to be doing anyway.

Ellen Kolb blogs at Leaven for the Loaf about New Hampshire politics & the life issues.