'All Politics is local'

The former U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill coined this phrase which encapsulates the principle that a politician’s success is directly tied to his ability to understand and influence the issues of his constituents. Politicians must appeal to the simple, mundane and everyday concerns of those who elect them into office. Those personal issues, rather than big and intangible ideas, are often what voters care most about, according to this principle.

Sensitivity to public opinion is particularly strong, given the separation of powers, which helps to make members of Congress more accountable to constituents than party leaders. The individual voting record of a member of Congress is often

highlighted at election time (by both the candidate and their opponents), sometimes leading a politician to oppose the party line. In 2017 many Republicans in the House and Senate voted against Republican Party plans to repeal Obamacare because it did

not reflect the interests of their constituents. In addition, the prevalence of pork-barrel legislation can be seen as an indicator of the need to please constituency views.

Although party unity is now at levels unimaginable 35 years ago, the first consideration for any member of Congress is still how their vote will be seen by the electorate at home. This is called a culture of Parochialism. If their electoral needs are better served by a vote against their party, party loyalty becomes an expendable commodity. Three of the four Democratic senators who voted against expanding gun background checks in April 2013 were up for re­-election in 2014 in Republican-leaning states. The fourth, Heidi Heitkamp, who had been elected as senator for North Dakota only 5 months previously, told the press that the calls to her office calling for her to vote against outnumbered those of the bill's supporters by at least 7-1.

But is-'All Politics Local'?- Increasing partisanship suggests this is less true