Elections have consequences. “Low Information Voters” seldom realize this and generally latch on to some inconsequential issue to guide their vote. In so-called “off-year” elections the turnout is very low, the attitude being that these elections don’t matter. They do. Case in point: the closure of the Quincy Social Security Office.
When the federal government has to save money they look around for things that won’t cause a problem if they are closed. The odd office here, a pointless military base there; close ‘em down and they add up to savings that can be pointed to with pride. Social Security runs on taxpayer money and practical politics. If you have a powerful politician in your corner good things happen, if you don’t, you find yourself on the short list and there’s not much you can do about it. I doubt this would have happened were Allen Boyd still our Congressman. One phone call would have stopped this in its tracks. Those of us who live in Gadsden County could immediately see that closing the local Social Security office creates a hardship, especially for the very poor, who are generally dependent upon federal help, be it Medicare or Social Security. If you neither know, nor care, no matter. With a population so dependent upon such service, why Quincy? Because it’s politically feasible, that’s why.
Steve Southerland is a Tea Party Republican. It was in his Washington apartment that an attempted coup against John Boehner was hatched. In the end that coup collapsed, but who was involved did not escape the notice of Mr. Speaker and his allies. Southerland loudly supports positions that do not gee-haw with Mr. Speaker or the mainstream Republican Party. Certainly he enjoys plenty of financial support from the Americans for Prosperity — the PAC-operated largely funded by the Koch Brothers. Those TV spots are bought and paid for by AFP. But he has little clout in the leadership circles of the GOP.
Needless to say, his influence with the Democratic Administration is zilch. He neither chairs nor sits on any committee of consequence (nor will he, thanks to his shenanigans versus Mr. Speaker) so there’s little he can do to influence any legislation that the Administration might propose. Nor can he prevent the Quincy Social Security office from being closed. Add to that the fact that Gadsden County is reliably Democratic, there’s not much political appeal in fighting for the office or the constituents served by it, if you are a right-wing Republican. The Congressman represents this district and the powers that be at Social Security know where his interests lie. The Congressman from Koch sees little to be gained, no point in spending the miniscule political capital he may have on such an issue, so the office closes.
Tip O’Neill was right, “All politics is local.” Unfortunately the average voter never comprehends just how local the effects of an election can be. In this case very local.