Can a TV show reform local government?

I know I’m a little late to Parks and Recreation, NBC’s award-winning comedy show about local government, but I started watching a couple of weeks ago and have been loving every episode. Its upbeat intro music and optimistic comedy make me excited about the possibilities of local government.

As this painstaking essay on the show makes clear, it is fairly obvious why a bit of a throw-back progressive like me would find so much to love.

Its fearless determination that government, while imperfect, is necessary and often a force for good is a refreshing change from the droning pessimism of the 24-hour news cycle.

And then there is the rather serendipitous fact that I started watching Parks and Recreation in the midst of Utah’s municipal primary elections and now general elections. I’d love to see a campaign ad similar to this one, from Season 4:

I know at the end of the day Leslie Knope is just a television character, but I can’t help but wish there were more people like her in this world. Even in the face of frustratingly low voter turnout in this year’s municipal primary elections, her abiding belief that local government can be a force for good inspires me to be more optimistic.

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