What can we do about it?
This is the number one question on the lips of every attendee of every tea party, rally, town hall meeting, or protest I have attended in the past six months. Presented with alarming evidence of gross negligence and even malicious radical intent on the part of officials at all levels of government, people know something must be done, but are at a loss for what. What can we do is precisely the right question to ask. However, the answers typically given are underwhelming. We are told we need to contact our elected officials, write our congressmen, phone our senators, write letters to the editor, talk to our friends and neighbors, and otherwise drum up further talk. But talk, as New York Times columnist David Brooks bluntly informed us earlier this month, is ever so cheap.
Over the years, I have asked many politicians what happens when Limbaugh and his colleagues attack. The story is always the same. Hundreds of calls come in. The receptionists are miserable. But the numbers back home do not move. There is no effect on the favorability rating or the re-election prospects.
Brooks here demeans talk radio. But his point could just as easily be applied to talk, period. Our elected officials do not care what we have to say. They only care about polls. They only care about their re-election prospects. They are not interested in making the best decision informed by the soundest reasoning. They are not interested in learning or teaching, in being seekers or purveyors of truth. They are not interested in representing the interests of their gerrymandered districts. Their only interest is securing their own power. In several well-publicized instances over the summer, many of our elected officials told us flat out how they regard our opinion. We are crazy. We are racists. We are Nazis. We are Astroturf. We are there to listen to them. We’re at their town hall. We’re in their house. We follow their rules.
We baulk at such arrogance as if we should expect anything different. But should we? Haven’t we sat idly by and let things get to this point? Haven’t we sat in the comfort of our homes and watched the news and shaken our heads and thought the world’s goin’ to hell, and done nothing? Haven’t we sat in the comfort of our cars during our commutes and listened to talkers and allowed them to vicariously expresses our discontent, and done nothing? Most recently, haven’t we attended rallies and gone to town halls and maybe shown up to a protest or two, and done nothing? We have a status quo whereby our so-called public servants are so sure of their positions they happily endure (or pay others to endure) our verbal lashing while confident they will skip happily to re-election. They do so with good reason, as Glenn Beck points out in his Common Sense:
How is it possible that a Congress with an overall approval rating of 13 percent saw 95 percent of its incumbent representatives win reelection along with 88 percent of its incumbent senators? Common sense tells us those two things cannot possibly go together – yet it happened.
This utter lack of accountability is so prevalent, establishment hacks like Brooks point to it as political axiom, as if we are all supposed to know our opinion is worthless and should feel appropriately silly for having expected different. Well, maybe he’s right. Maybe we should feel silly. Maybe we’ve been had.
Upon learning last week that President Barrack Obama is set to sign a treaty which will effectively create a “communist world government,” I sent the following message to my elected representatives in Congress, Representative Erik Paulsen (R-MN-3), and Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN):
Wednesday night at an event hosted by the Minnesota Free Market Institute at Bethel University, Lord Christopher Monckton, former adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, gave a presentation on climate change. At the end of his presentation, he closed with a warning to the crowd regarding a treaty President Obama is poised to sign at this December’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. This treaty will effectively cede US sovereignty to a newly created global government, as overtly stated in the current draft, page 18, item 38; a link to the PDF is provided below.
It is my expectation that you will fulfill your oath to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States by petitioning the president, your fellow members of the Senate, and your colleagues in the House to do everything in their power to keep this country out of that treaty. The Founding Fathers would roll over in their graves if they knew their progeny allowed a foreign power such authority, effectively undoing their every effort in an act of Anti-American Revolution. This is neither hyperbole nor rhetoric. This treaty would leave us accountable to a global governing agency with zero elected representation and zero constitutional protections. It must not be signed!
Thank you. I would appreciate a response indicating your position on the treaty and your intended course of action.
I received an immediate auto-response only from Paulsen. One week later, I have yet to hear anything from either Franken or Klobuchar. Paulsen’s office sent out this canned non-response, received yesterday:
Thank you for sharing your comments and concerns with me.
I deeply appreciate the input of residents of the Third District, which helps me to better represent you in Congress.
You can be sure I will fully review your comments. As I continue my work in Congress, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind. Please feel free to continue passing along your thoughts, and visit my website for more information about Congress and the work I am doing for the residents and communities of the Third Congressional District.
Thanks again for contacting me, as I appreciate hearing from you. Please let me know whenever I can be of assistance.
There was apparently no “surrendering US sovereignty” form letter on hand. So I got this generic “thanks for writing” response instead.
I have seen Erik Paulsen speak and have gauged his manner. He seems to be a decent man who may, in most cases, do the right thing. However, this canned response to an issue of the gravest possible importance is an insult, albeit better then my senators’. Mine was not a letter to be piled neatly in some “for” or “against” stack. It surely did not address a topic which the congressmen was aware of or had commented on. The issue of national sovereignty definitely demands his attention, along with that of all his colleagues. Will it get such attention? I do not know. Nor am I likely to. At the end of the day, it’s kind of like I did nothing.
But maybe that’s how “political participation” is supposed to feel, because maybe that’s what it is – nothing. Maybe we’re supposed to just sit around, go about our lives, stew over the occasional outrage, and once in a while let off steam at a rally. Or maybe we can wait until Election Day to save ourselves, get all riled up, full of manufactured excitement over a candidate we didn’t even want on the ballot, go stand in line, punch our chad, and head home with a button proving we done did our part. Of course, nothing will actually change. Nothing will actually get better. We will get the same bus heading toward the same cliff with a different driver at another speed.
It’s time for something different. It’s time to actually do something. But what?
It occurs to me the options fall into two basic categories. We can attempt to operate within the system. Or we can operate outside it, either with the intent to circumvent (which is likely impossible) or the intent to subvert.
I hear a lot of talk among liberty-minded folk which amounts to chest-pounding in preparation for the latter, talk of guns, cold-dead hands, don’t-tread-on-me, blah blah blah. Okay. We get it. You have a gun. Yea for you. How’s that working out for you? What is it doing? Is your gun your plan? Is that how you’re going to get your republic back? Or is it perhaps merely acting as a security blanket barring you from more reasonable and effective (and potentially more frightening) means? It’s easy to talk about shooting, fighting, and dying. It’s easy to pound one’s chest. None of that impresses me. And it certainly doesn’t impress your so-called public servants.
Another rallying call I keep hearing is for third parties or boycotting the 2010 election or otherwise making oneself utterly useless to the political process. I have twice this week been solicited by organizations that are working to divert political will from the two party system in the name of liberty. Again I ask, how’s that working out for you? What is it doing? Is that your plan, to take your ball and go home? Let me be clear; I am not philosophically opposed to third parties. If it were certain that neither of the two major parties could be brought around to serve liberty and constitutional principles, I would be in the market for an alternative political home. But, folks, we haven’t even tried!
Along with the frequent demonstrations of enormous arrogance among many elected officials this summer, we have also seen another commonality, shock and awe. Across the board, at every level of government, from politicians young and old, the sentiment is the same. I have never seen anything like this before in my life. They’re talking about you. They’re talking about the tea parties. They’re talking about the standing room only town halls. They’re talking about the 9-12 march on Washington. They’re talking about a public increasingly willing to take time out of their day, skip a football game, eat on the go, miss a TV show, and make their voice heard. They’ve never seen it before. It’s not supposed to happen. You’re supposed to be asleep. But you’re out walking around, out of your pajamas, no longer content with your Binky. It scares the bejesus out of them, more than anything they can imagine. It scares them only because it has the potential to translate to action, not because it necessarily will.
Here, at long last, is what must be done: we must channel this collective energy aroused by the call of liberty and bring it crashing down upon our major parties in precisely the manner they dread. We got where we are by assuming someone else had our back, allowing both the Republicans and the Democrats to become overrun with and led by authoritarian statists with no respect for the Constitution. That those in the Republican party are to some degree less statist than those in the Democratic party is of little consequence. Both parties need to be cleansed. They need to be usurped from within and reclaimed by normal Americans whose differences left and right are of less consequence than their unity on the supremacy of the Constitution and the sanctity of individual liberty. Liberty, like tyranny, knows no party. It can be brought to bear by anyone under any banner. It is our duty to bring it back to the tents of the Republican and Democratic parties.
In a recent email sent out to his supporters, Congressman Ron Paul wrote:
The other day when Lindsey Graham went after me, and accused me of trying to take over the Republican party, I couldn’t help but chuckle. Partisan politics is one thing, and about the only thing politicians understand. But ideas are something else. And our ideas–the ideas of liberty–are capturing the hearts and minds of millions of Americans, and that is what counts.
Dr. Paul is correct. What Graham and other establishment hacks are counting on to save them from a rising tide of libertarian sentiment is fragmentation among the movement. They are counting on us dividing ourselves among third parties, racial lines (really? white nationalists? c’mon now), or letting us neuter ourselves by refusing to participate. We must not oblige them! We must make their fears come true! We must take over their parties and oust them utilizing the means they have kept intentionally esoteric for entirely too long.
In the past month or so, I have spoken to two local Republican party insiders, one of which is a very active official. Both indicated to me that the establishment within the party is scared senseless of normal people like you and me showing up to have a say in internal party politics. They keep their meetings under raps, discourage public forum, and fear open debate. They don’t want to hear from you at the caucuses. They don’t want to hear from you as a delegate. They don’t want your input into who gets on the ballot and what they actually believe. They want you to standby until summoned for a general election, to come out and dutifully pick the candidate with the right letter next to their name.
No more. It’s time to seize control in the only way which matters. There is an entire mechanism for affecting change which has been denied to you by design. The answer is not a third party. The answer is not refusing to participate. The answer which we must at least consider before embracing a likely ineffective alternative is to storm the gates of the two-party system, oust the self-serving autocrats currently hoarding influence, open up the process to real and public debate, and expand our concept of civic duty beyond Election Day to a 24/7/365 obligation as personal and urgent as the feeding, clothing, and sheltering of our children and ourselves. The freedom to provide for those necessities and chart our own course is ultimately at stake.