Conservatives’ failure to involve themselves in local government has cost them. Their underestimation of the impact of local committees and boards will continue to contribute to the serious overreach of government Colorado has engaged in within the last decade.
This failure isn’t intentional. It’s a fundamental mindset difference in how conservatives and progressives engage with government. While the political left views government as the means to their preferred social end, the right generally views government as a secondary aspect of life, their individual choices as the first.
It’s in this way that conservatives have become reactionary. They’re political firefighters, extinguishing fires started by progressives and Democrats across the nation, and at both the state and local level.
The Loudoun County School Board’s handling of race and gender issues in Virginia embodies one of the most extensive fires at the local level yet. What started as the discovery of woke mismanagement by a school board whose meetings had otherwise poor public attendance rapidly shifted to a wave of attendance by concerned parents and community members in school boards nationwide. This ended with a newly elected Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin in 2020, who put the rights of parents in their children’s education at the forefront of his campaign.
The fire also spread to Colorado, where conservative candidates gained ground in school board races around the state, with a handful of boards actually flipping from teachers’ union control to conservative majorities.
As incredible of an effort and success this story is for conservatives, it also displays the reactionary tendencies they’ve fallen into. A proactive political movement would have already had voices of reason on those school boards, avoiding having to extinguish this fire altogether.
Now political arsonists on the left are starting more new fires in Colorado as counties and municipalities have begun implementing local gun restrictions along with all their other efforts to impede on citizens’ rights. It’s time for Republicans to grab the water hose once again. But why not stop the arsonists in their tracks?
It’s long past due for more conservatives to engage with their local government by taking the first step: seeking appointments to local boards and commissions. These entities run rampant with vacancies across the state, making them ideal positions for conservatives to penetrate and push back on the bureaucracy and local government overreach. These positions are also an excellent jumping off point for those wanting to run for local elected office. The Independence Institute’s Local Government Project tracks these vacancies and connects community members to a committee or board that suits their unique skills and interests through training sessions.
Unlike at the state and national levels, just one freedom-loving individual can significantly impact the decisions made at the local level. It’s time to turn the tide in Colorado. Visit www.i2i.org/local-gov to find out when the next Local Government Project training is and how to get involved.
Madison Russell studies History and Political Science at Black Hills State University in South Dakota and is the Local Government Project Intern at the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.
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