Rep. John Kavanagh made headlines last week by unveiling a bill that would police public restrooms throughout Arizona.
His bill aimed to make it a misdemeanor to go into the wrong bathroom or, as he described it, the sex not listed on your birth certificate.
I rolled my eyes when I heard this, just like I did when I read there was another lawmaker pushing to make gold and silver legal tender in the state. I didn’t realize Arizona had become filled with preppers living in underground bunkers who had lost faith in the American dollar.
I didn’t know these were problems worth legislating but the eye-rolling happens every year because lawmakers attempt to pass bills so far outside the mainstream attempting to solve nonexistent problems.
The New York Times’ Bill Keller offers up a theory on why this happens. In short, he writes, local issues get left behind because voters’ attention is spent on national issues.
“People who participate in state and local government tend not to be representative of the masses at all,” (Samuel) Abrams (who teaches politics at Sarah Lawrence and Stanford) told me. “They tend to be highly engaged political elites — 15 percent of the population who think they’re fighting this culture war. They’ll see an opening. They’ll see a judge, they’ll see a legislature that looks amenable to something, and they’ll try to push it through and build a groundswell around that.”
Take a look at this. The City of Phoenix elected a new mayor in Greg Stanton in 2011. He won the post by receiving 95,000 votes. There were 170,000 ballots cast in a city with almost 1.5 million people living within its limits. Only about 11 percent of the population decided who was going to run the city.
It doesn’t just happen here. In Los Angeles, only 18 percent of voters bothered to show up to vote in their mayoral election earlier this year.
Compare those numbers to the 2012 presidential race when over 129 million people voted. Turnout was 57.5 percent. Americans will show up to the polls to vote for president every four years. Everything else is just a bonus.
Therein lies the irony. In the presidential race, one vote was just one in 129 million. Even in Arizona, a presidential vote was one in 2.3 million but a vote for the mayor of Phoenix was one in 170,000. One vote is much more impactful the closer to home you get.
It’s just that the issues aren’t as exciting. And then lawmakers like Kavanagh attempt to regulate bathroom usage and others to bring back gold and silver coins. Perhaps it would cease if we paid a little closer attention.
Turns out, all politics isn’t local after all because local politics sometimes is just a little too meaningless.
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.