By JANIE SOUTHARD
ST. MARYS — Even though some may say the political party
system in America is losing its punch with the onslaught of
independent voters, William Angel, author and associate professor
at The Ohio State University at Lima, believes partisan politics
is beneficial right down to the roots — grass roots, that
Angel’s book “Not All Politics Is Local,”
published by The Kent State University Press, recounts his own
experiences as chairman of the Allen County Democratic Party
from 1986 to 1991.
During an author visit Tuesday evening at the St. Marys Community
Public Library, sponsored by the Friends of the Library, Angel
said partisan politics tends to keep people more focused on
issues as well as candidates.
“Actually this is my second book. I wrote the first in
1956 in the fourth grade and it was also on politics,”
Angel said as he projected transparencies from that first book
of “elifints” and donkeys urging people to pay attention
Boxing was a theme in the first book with the two party symbols
duking it out at the polls, which Angel said still speaks to
the rough and tumble of politics.
“Local elections are often incredibly nasty because it’s
politics among neighbors. It’s asking people to choose
and it can divide a community,” said the St. Marys author
whose research focus is on political parties, political leadership
and grassroots political activism.
“Not All Politics Is Local” details Angel’s
own campaign for democratic party chair in Allen County in 1986
where a labor union member had been chairman for 14 years.
“There was a union, blue collar focus and the white collars
were put on the fringe. We were a voice not recognized on the
local party level,” Angel said.
This cultural split reflects the split in the Democratic Party
in general, Angel said in an aside.
Angel did finally win the chair in 1986, but the labor group
all but withdrew its support of the party choosing to sit back
and watch and hope for failure.
He said he debated when he first began writing whether or not
to use real names but decided, after careful verification of
dates, times and participants, that truth is truth, and called
everyone by name.
As a local party chair, Angel met many big guns in national
politics: Jesse Jackson, Al Gore, Howard Metzenbaum, Michael
Dukakis — and relates anecdotes and observations that
may cause readers to take a second look at how national politicos
behave at the local level.