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Kevin Buck: All of politics is a local issue

Posted: March 8, 2010 2:09 p.m.
Updated: March 9, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Earlier this year, the editors of The Signal invited all of the local opinion columnists to a breakfast meeting at the paper's Creekside Road offices.

To my knowledge, this was the first-ever such meeting of the amateur left, right and center opinion purveyors.

Regular readers of The Signal opinion pages are well aware of the liberals and conservatives, but they very well may wonder who the "center" writers are. I was curious myself.

It turns out the center are the Thursday environmental writers, who took great pains to point out to the rest of us that they are truly bipartisan, with both Republican and Democratic contributors. Good for them, comity one day a week is good for the soul.

However, I must say that I have always enjoyed the political broadsides from the partisan columns and the readers' responses to them in the form of letters to the editor.

I speak only for myself, but I suspect my fellow contributors feel the same way; I am pleased and proud when I am lambasted by a well-written opposition opinion.

Making people think and react is one of the reasons we put our beliefs and ourselves out there for all to harangue.

I have been doing this for a long time, and over the years I have had the opportunity to meet many of the Democratic writers.

Thanks to my friend, the late and still missed Roberta Gillis, I have also met a fair share of the Republicans as well.

There was no more fierce and partisan Democrat in the valley than Roberta, but I swear she had more Republican friends than she did Democratic ones.

Politics has its place, but in the end we are just mothers, fathers, family, friends and fellow citizens working toward the same goals, albeit on divergent paths.

But I digress. The reason the local writers were summoned by the editors was to remind us that, though we are unpaid amateurs, the fact that we are published in a newspaper means there are rules by which we must abide.

As for me, I was pleased to finally get the opportunity to meet the other people behind the columns, opinions and unflattering tiny pictures.

The Signal's editors also requested that we all attempt to make our subject matter more local than national, a reasonable enough request.

As an unrepentant liberal Democrat living in an overwhelmingly conservative Republican city, you would think the columns would write themselves, but I have found the opposite to be true.

Thanks to gerrymandered districts, there are no close elections. I am forever condemned to be represented by Republican at every local level. Howard "Buck" McKeon will be my congressman until he retires to lobby for the military-industrial complex.

At least the Republican primary race to replace him will add some level of interest, but in the end, sadly, another Republican will go to Washington.

The California game of term limit roulette will continue to move Republicans into, through and out of the state Assembly and state senators' seats.

The Santa Clarita City Council will continue to be dominated by the local Republican machine, with incumbents enjoying virtual lifetime tenure.

All in all, local politics may be where real things get done for the people, but it is inherently boring and devoid of suspense.

Tea parties, raucous town hall meetings, filibusters, partisan gridlock, former half-term governors of Alaska, Obama, Fox News, the liberal mainstream media and the incendiary political blogs on the Inter Tubes - all offer a neverending cacophony of opinion, a stream of car wrecks at the side of the road at which we must slow down and gawk.

How can local politics compete?

This is an election year, with Republicans hoping to reclaim majorities, Democrats hoping to retain theirs and GOP wannabe presidents positioning themselves for the 2012 run at President Obama - pure nirvana for a political junkie like myself.

This essay will be my contribution to The Signal's request for local opinion, so let me finish with one final thought: April 13 is the date of the City Council election.

TimBen Boydston and Harrison Katz are challenging the three incumbents and they would bring refreshing change to an entrenched political machine.

But who we vote for is not nearly as important as the vote itself. People are the democracy and without us participating, it withers and dies.

Kevin Buck is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Democratic Voices" runs Tuesday in The Signal and rotates among several SCV Democrats.


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