Opinion Piece By Samuel Strait – November 15, 2016 -While it didn’t come to me immediately, there is something about this election that should strike a cord for us here locally that is so often missing when it comes to Federal, State and local governance. It has for sometime been a given that California as a State inevitably votes Democratic, primarily due to a heavily weighted urban population. This is true for most other states in this country with large urbanized populations, New York, Pennsylvania, Chicago, etc. In those urbanized settings a largely top down government model has taken root, much as it has mirrored State and Federal governments. As a result, State and Federal governments have focused most of their resources on Urban centers of population in an effort to cultivate acceptance of their respective policies. Because of this practice it has left the nation’s rural populations largely to fend for themselves.
It is crystal clear to me at least that rural governance should have a much different approach in that the State and Federal models in urban areas have some very important needs that simply do not exist or at least are much less urgent in a rural setting. When one applies those kinds of processes to a rural setting, the end result is often negative and counterproductive to the health and well being of rural citizens. In this County in particular the evidence of ill fitting State and Federal policies abound and any effort to replace an economy with more government is bound to failure. At some point, those that wish to continue to live in a rural setting will be forced to move or rebel. It will begin with a growing sense of disenfranchisement and a noticeable feeling that the central government, be it the State or Federal Government level, views rural citizens as invisible and no longer represents them. After all they have become just another of the many minority groups that we have seemed to grow at an alarming pace over the last half century.
In the Electoral College, for those that do not understand why it is such an important institution in the Country’s General Election, is that pure democracy, 50 percent plus one, is a road to tyranny. Small populations or minorities would never have their needs met because of the lack of numbers. The founders of this Country, students of history, saw this played out over and over through out world history. While a simple reading of our governing document is short on the “why’s” a more in depth reading of the founders will show you the way to why an Electoral College is necessary, particularly to small groups who are often shut out of the national government.
This recent election is a very important lesson for all Americans, where the popular vote elected one candidate and the Electoral College will elect the next president who happens to be the other candidate. It is also a rather dramatic way for the largely forgotten rural population in this country, a minority, to say “Hey we live in this Country too! And, our needs are important, at least to us” “You at the Federal level need to pay attention to us too, and Oh! by the way, solve some of our problems too!” We are tired of being treated as second class citizens in our own Country! Where exactly is this “white privilege” that everyone in the press is talking about. We are literally drying up and being blown away by the suffocating burden of Federal and State regulations and policies being imposed on us by the urban majorities.
Unfortunately here in California, rural citizens do not have the protection of the Electoral College and the end result is a California State Government that barely recognizes our existence. Northern California after all doesn’t extend much past the San Francisco-Sacramento line. We have for so long played the Sacramento two step with our local Board of Supervisor’s leading the dance, and look at where we are. We have no private sector economy to any extent. Our Children, our future, look to distant places to make a life, Our local schools in spite of $25,000,000, yes a lot of zeros, in bond money have yet to show us that they can even reach the State’s performance average. We are massively in debt due to several inopportune infrastructure projects, the airport terminal, the City’s wastewater treatment plant, and the harbor, which have little to show towards future economic prosperity. Future local governing boards and councils must be made to understand that we simply cannot “more and bigger” government our way out of the slide we are currently experiencing. If rural populations can’t come together as they did at the national level and force California’s State government to recognize our very existence, and the problems that they have created for us, Del Norte County and other rural county’s will remain an after thought in this State. Small wonder that the State of Jefferson was even so much as an after thought in this State.
I am not sure just how coherent this is, but I hope that our elected local officials understand that people are looking for solutions in the rural areas of this country and they are tired of being ignored. The fact the we live in California and it isn’t working for us here is just another very obvious message to our local elected officials that past performance hasn’t measured up for most of the past forty plus years, that I have lived and worked here. So, whether we are of either the two main party’s or else where in the political spectrum, some positive movement in this County is expected. Chris Howard and Gerry Hemmingsen should also be aware that no progress means it is also a time for change in their respective districts next election cycle. Life in rural America, even in California, should never have become such a struggle for so many.