Monday, January 7, 2013

That Pesky 3% Plus One

I don’t consider this a political blog. I consider it a philosophical blog, literally about the interrelationships of political,economic, and social spheres. My emphasis, internally, is always on the social sphere—or better labeled the civilization sphere, the opposition between civilization and savagery. Only a people seeking to live the principles required for thriving civilization can expect freedom from tyranny and overall economic prosperity.

But I recognize that public policies affect our freedom, prosperity, and thriving. And refusing to engage in the political world is to leave those public policy decisions in the hands of people who simply don’t have a clear understanding of the way northward on the spheres. So, people like me, who think and care, have an obligation to be at least somewhat engaged in the political sphere. While I am discouraged by the outcome of the last several years of engagement in politics, I am not free of the obligation to try to influence public policy for good. At this point I am still exploring what my efforts should look like—as is true for many like-minded friends at this point.
Let me share some of what I’ve been discovering.
This is from a piece by political consultant Michael I. Rothfeld:
Simply put, politics is not about the common good, appealing to men's better angels, nor serving our Lord. These may be your motivations. Occasionally, they will be a politician's motivation. Politics is the adjudication of power. It is the process by which people everywhere determine who rules whom.
In America, through a brilliant system of rewards and punishments, checks and balances, and diffusion of authority, we have acquired a habit and history of politics mostly without violence and excessive corruption.
The good news for you and me is that the system works.
The bad news is it is hard, and sometimes dirty work, for us to succeed in enacting policy.
There is absolutely no reason for you to spend your time, talent, and money in politics except for this: if you do not, laws will be written and regulations enforced by folks with little or no interest in your well-being.
Further in this piece he has a graphic showing who decides elections. About 70% of adults are eligible to vote (citizens, not felons). Only 40% (about 60% of the eligible) are registered to vote. Of registered voters, a good turnout on election day is 50% of registered voters, so only about 20% of the population. Of that 20%, 7% will always vote Democrat; 7% will always vote GOP. That leaves 6% who are undecided. The vote turns on ½ of that 6% plus one person.
Tyranny of the uninformed—that is what this seems to be. I thought I was doing my part as a citizen, getting informed, studying issues, meeting and studying candidates, sharing what I learned with others who share my concerns, and learning from them what they had learned. And then we went out, with much enthusiasm, and voted. Many of us contacted more other voters than ever before. We connected in person and online in more ways, and much more often, than we had ever done before. Politics took a much larger chunk of our interest than we would like to devote to anything we don’t absolutely love. And what I felt right after the election was a slap in the face, mainly from people on our side saying, “We never had a ground game. We didn’t do the work. We had an enthusiasm gap.” None of that is actually true.
What did happen was that we learned something about “community organizing.” It isn’t really about grassroots informing and gathering like-minded people; it is about manipulating the uninformed. To them it is a game of finding ways, both legal and illegal, of casting more uninformed votes for their own agenda.
I absolutely do not believe that the way to save the nation is to copy that modus operandi and just manipulate more uninformed votes our way. That will not solve the problem that not enough people in our country love the Constitution and the freedom and way of life it represents.
The eventual solution, if there is to be a solution, must include more people choosing freedom because they understand the principles and love the beauty of freedom, prosperity, and civilization and eschew tyranny, economic theft, and savagery. If we don’t have a critical mass of such people, we will be ruled by the people who either purposefully or haphazardly lead us southward into all the interrelated misery that is inevitable.
Sharing the word of God may have a bigger effect on our long-term prosperity as a people than anything we do in the political realm. But that is a long-term separate effort.
In the meantime, is there anything political we can and should do? There’s this:
·         Find other like-minded people (or continue with those you’ve already found) to strengthen your voice.
·         Work to influence the elected officials who actually have the ability to affect policy.
Politicians don’t want to alienate that 3% plus one person. So they try to avoid doing anything too hard or controversial. But, if you pressure the politician, steadily, over the long-term, with some understanding of their position but steadfast on your own, you and your citizen lobbying group can influence for change. He quoted the late Everett Dickson, saying, “When I feel the heat, I see the light.”
During the last state legislative session (in Texas that’s January to June every odd-numbered year), I helped arrange to visit, along with a few other volunteers from our local tea party, all the state officials’ local offices. We took with us a list of legislation we were watching. We followed each legislator’s positions on those issues, asked for commitments when we could. I plan to do these visits again this session. It’s not a huge time commitment, and was a positive experience, with some good outcomes. So, as political efforts go, this is probably a good way.
There must be other ways as well. And I’ll continue looking for them. Because, as frustrating as the situation is, I am not willing to submit to tyranny of the uninformed.

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