America’s Fight for Independence Has Always Been Local

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Our country’s growing political tension between city leadership and state legislatures has long historic roots in America, NLC Director of Research Christiana McFarland writes this week in Route Fifty. Current issues ranging from municipal broadband to civil rights to the minimum wage have been involved — but the pattern is not new, says McFarland:

“A fact well-known by residents of Charlotte, N.C., is that the first declaration of independence was not the famous document adopted on July 4, 1776, but the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence signed in that city in 1775. “Meck Dec,” as it’s called by the locals, was a resolution declaring Mecklenburg county’s (not country’s) separation from Great Britain. Although the details of the declaration are disputed, it signifies the first exertion by Americans to formalize the value of self-governance. This act was wholly local and indicative of deep community-based roots of our nation’s progressive leadership.

Even today, the pragmatic, responsive nature of those leading closest to the people is born out of a local view of how government affects the lives of people. For example, when immigration is perceived at the local scale, the debate becomes less about who has a visa and more about the ability of cities to prevent and solve crimes by building trust between police and immigrant communities.

With a local lens on climate change, the debate becomes less about the validity of science, and more about preventing pervasive water crises, saving neighborhoods, and protecting food supplies. This local perspective on a whole range of national issues mandates solutions that make people’s lives better.”

Read the full article on preemption and independence in America on Route Fifty.

Photo: Los Angeles City Hall (Getty).

christy-mcfarlandAbout the Author: Christiana K. McFarland is NLC’s research director. Follow Christy on Twitter at @ckmcfarland.