American government is not simply about the formal structures included in the Constitution; it is also about the informal connections that exist between people. These bonds give rise to community and civic organizations that are necessary to maintain a successful republic. Although not always in the media spotlight, the communities with which a person interacts are important political units. It is citizens’ interaction with their communities that largely determines their happiness and safety.
In most societies, the fundamental political group is the family. Families eventually come together to form neighborhoods, communities, cities, and districts. The people who make up the governing bodies of these communities reside within them. For instance, local school districts draw students from a specific geographic area. Elected school board members’ residency in the district allows them to be acutely aware of the particular needs and desires of their community.