I think most people of my generation like to follow the happenings around the country and around the world. Whether from print, television or social media, we get a broad spectrum of reporting and analysis.
The recent national news might, for one person, be disturbing and dispiriting, or, for another, exhilarating to the point of being a new, aggressive version of “Morning in America.”
The things that divide us seem, unfortunately, to overwhelm those things that bring us together. If we attend too closely to the details of the national drama, it appears that we are fracturing along tribal fault lines. “The center cannot hold.” The upshot is paralysis and inaction, and a certain bafflement.
To which I have a modest proposal: Let the national drama play out for a while. Pretend it is simply a professional wrestling match – entertaining but largely, at this point, inconsequential.
Instead, I urge you to take a walk around Bluffton, or Hardeeville, or Charleston, or Greenville.
Take a look at how real folks are getting along, how new businesses are flourishing, how local governments are working to solve the problems that Washington has ignored for years. Refocus on the amazing progress being made on a local, homegrown, person-to-person basis.
Entrepreneurship is exploding, unemployment is almost non-existent, political engagement at the local level is attracting younger voters. People are becoming involved in their own neighborhoods, towns and cities, and, yes, even their states.
The failures of Washington have ignited a vigorous, positive “filling of the void” response.
For most of the 20th Century, Washington was about hierarchical systems that were segmented and bureaucratic. The 21st century will likely be networked, distributed, and mostly led by cities and states.
We saw this beginning 40 years ago, with the Riley administration in Charleston. Two decades later, Beaufort County taxed itself to address serious infrastructure impediments. One of the outcomes was the shared prosperity we are presently experiencing.
It was one of the highlights of my public service to lead much of the groundwork and planning for our subsequent successes from my place at the head of Beaufort County Council.
With the dysfunction in Washington, the responsibility for large swathes of problem solving will devolve down the food chain to the states and their subdivisions: counties and municipalities.
Our state government is not presently immune to a small measure of gridlock, which is why we must reconvene the General Assembly June 27.
At this writing, we have yet to hear from the budget conference on our spending plan. Nor do we have unanimity on how to deal with the failure of the V.C. Summer nuclear plant, including setting interim power rates to remove or amend the nuclear surcharge.
We also must address the tax conformity issue which defaults into a tax increase if we defer.
On most of these, I am optimistic.
One of the bright lights of our state process is the Legislative Oversight Committee (LOC), which serves to continually refine and strengthen each of our state departments, to be more effective, efficient and transparent. Again, I find myself in a position to help improve our legislative process, as the founding and current chairman of the LOC.
Weston Newton is the representative for District 120 in the State House of Representatives.