Local Elections and Puppet Influence

Posted by Terri McCormick On December - 18 - 2014

Some responsibility rests upon the conduct of our own affairsIf you believe you are immune from Machiavellian influences in local politics, think twice. Whether you’re a voter or a candidate, Machiavellian influences are at all levels of politics.

Local elections are run by the people, right? Not necessarily.

Shadow political parties are often used by county, state and federal party machines to keep an eye on what is going on at the grassroots level. After all, political parties want to make sure the “right” person is recruited to run for political office.

In fact, young campaign workers are sometimes recruited as “soldiers” who are taught the ways of the party machine, so that when they are ready, they may be recruited up the party ladder.

So what’s to become of these young campaign workers who do what they are told and play whatever tricks they are advised to play? They are promoted up the staffer ranks, of course, to a full-time staff position in our state and federal capitols.

What is the lesson learned by these twenty-something campaign workers? Too often, it is all is fair in love, war and politics. Most profoundly, these young campaign workers learn that politics is only a game, and they all work for the head politico in office—the speaker, majority leader or minority leaders of their respective parties.

“Controlled staffers” do not work for their assigned legislators, and they certainly do not for the voters back in the district.

How do we fight back? Citizen-run campaigns must become the norm in our local, state and federal elections, if we are to counter machine candidates.

We the people need to get involved on every level.

We must get out of our armchairs, turn off our televisions and radios and put down our biased newspapers. We must stop surfing the Internet to read the blogs that are written, far too often, by “wack jobs of hate and negative ideas.”17 The only way we can make a difference is to personally get involved.

Citizen activists make all the difference in entering voter lists, mailing out literature, taking phone calls and going door-to-door with candidates. The only way to ensure that local governments serve the people is for we the people to step up and volunteer our time and talent on local elections.

Our representative democracy comes alive when we make our own choices, support integrity leaders and make well-informed decisions about our political leaders.


There are periods in our nation’s history that are marked by populist reform and public opinion. Thomas Jefferson’s grassroots political party is one such period, with the transition in 1789 of the Democratic-Republicans from the more elitist Federalist Party.

Abraham Lincoln was the champion of populism during the 1860s and the Civil War, as the radical Republican. Lincoln radically insisted on equal rights for all men. Teddy Roosevelt ushered in the third wave of populism between 1900 and 1920, during the progressive era, with the nation’s first presidential primaries, as opposed to partyboss appointment. Teddy Roosevelt loosened the grip of the money changers with anti-trust laws, referendums and recalls.

The next populist wave can be traced to the 1960s civil rights movement, beginning under John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy.

Changes such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and California’s Proposition 13 in 1978 are two such reforms brought about by changes in popular opinion. Populist leadership in politics requires not only a compassion for the people and understanding of public opinion, but at its core, it also requires the belief in the will of the people.

Great populist leaders in wartime were Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, and Churchill, who all have been described throughout history as eloquent speakers, both in their content as well as their style. All of these leaders had, at their core, a belief in self-government and a rejection on all levels to dictatorial systems of their wartime enemies.


Grassroots are “we the people.”

There are leaders among us who are leading right from where they are. Brown County, the largest county in my congressional district, just experienced a GOP revolution when the residents of that county took back their own party’s political governing body.

It wasn’t easy—the people organized themselves, wrote their own bylaws and recruited leaders from within. Most important, they recruited those leaders based on ability and merit. Professionalism and accountability to the people of their own county became the norm.

Anything has become possible once again, as the people create their own destiny and run their own governments.

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Terri McCormick honored for excellence in government relations by Cambridge's Who's Who industry experts