I definitely don’t want it to fly by when somebody says something randomly that is very smart about government. Mike Schur, man behind some of the best sitcoms of all time, one of which is Parks and Recreation, was asked about the era that led to the creation of a show about local government:
And then there were a couple of other things, the biggest of which I think obviously is that at the time Greg and I were developing the show around the summer of 2008, the world economy was collapsing around us, the McCain/Obama campaign was in full swing, and it just became very clear that no matter what happened, the role of government was going to be very important in people’s lives. And the problem at the time was the government was being discussed in this extremely macro, kind of abstract way where it was about “Should Lehman Brothers be allowed to fail?” “Should the government be in the position of guaranteeing tranches of subprime mortgage loans from Fannie Mae?”
I’ll pause here because the paragraph is really long and the next part is the part I want to highlight (emphasis mine):
It was just this incredibly complex thing, so our discussions of the situation resulted in us realizing that the way that people actually interact with their government is not through following the intricacies of the Federal Reserve and Ben Bernanke and stuff like that — not that that doesn’t affect people, of course it does, and in a serious way — but the actual way that people interact with their government is when they get a parking ticket, or when they need a new garbage can because the old one broke, or when they need a new stop sign put in, or when they need a swing fixed. So that just seemed like a way to say look, the world is very complicated, and the role of government is very complicated in people’s lives, and there might be a fun way to say “When push comes to shove, your local government is more important to you in many ways — not in all ways, but in many ways — than the national government is.” So that was sort of the genesis of the show — thinking about the different ways that people interact with the government and how the government affects them, then coupling that with the idea of presenting a character who believed you could actually affect change one person at a time, or one little moment at a time, through an optimistic worldview.
If you’ve been reading this for a while, or know me personally, you know this is kind of a (probably annoying) hobby horse of mine. Local governments matter far more to you than the federal government. Who the president is at any given time almost does not affect you in the least. Yet, we spend a lot of brain power voting for president (or maybe even senator or congressman), but so many people have no idea who their local politicians even are. That’s how a sex offender who is currently in prison gets reelected state assemblyman.
So, listen up. Learn about your local government. Find out your state representative and senator. Participate—write some letters, go to some meetings, speak. And I swear to fucking God: If you live in D.C., get registered here and forget about your shitty vote for representative and senator.