It may seem hard to believe, but politics were once truly local. A Congressional candidate was nominated by his party only after he had already served his community, usually in local and state offices, where his character and his abilities had been given a chance to reveal themselves.
The erosion of locally-rooted politics has been attributed to the nationalization of congressional races by Newt Gingrich’s Republicans in 1994, to the proliferation of politicized and polarizing radio shows and television networks and to the tides of money from lobbyists and corporations flowing into local races.
Once, even national elections were local, as Harry McDougal, the Republican leader of Essex County for decades, recalled in an interview in the 1960s. » Continue Reading.