New Beginnings

With regard to the recent election, what is done is done. The Republic will have to take its lumps, again, for another four years. So, short of secession movements and other unorthodox remedies, what are the approximately one-half of voting American citizens who are predisposed toward liberty to do to help restore the Republic? Tea Party activism, campaign volunteerism, and voting have not been enough to restrict the slide into national statism. While Republicans witnessed spectacular congressional gains in the 2010 midterm elections, the momentum was insufficient to carry the day in November 2012. A tipping point has been reached in the attitudes of the national electorate, where sustenance from government is more important than liberty. How do we regain the love of freedom over the empty promises of comfort?

One path toward restoration is a return to citizen participation at the local level. Our opponents have understood and perfected this truism for decades. The doctrines found in Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals and the community organizing efforts of statists everywhere are rooted at the county, city, ward, and precinct levels. Perversely, they have taken a page from Thomas Jefferson's approach to republicanism. Our opponents understand that the shaping of a nation's political direction is a bottom-up effort. The organizing of teachers unions, trade unions, and community groups based upon racial, ethnic, economic and gender distinctions, while detestable in their intent, are nonetheless highly effective in shaping the attitudes and voting proclivities of those involved. Although they may tangentially mirror Jeffersonian approaches to smaller governmental units, they are diametrically opposed to our third president's vision for the maximization of individual liberty. In his autobiography, published in 1821, Jefferson wrote:

It is not by the consolidation or concentration of powers, but by their distribution that good government is affected. Were not this great country already divided into States, that division must be made that each might do for itself what concerns itself directly and what it can so much better do than a distant authority. Every state again is divided into counties, each to take care of what lies within its local bounds; each county again into townships or wards, to manage minuter details; and every ward into farms, to be governed each by its individual proprietor... It is by this partition of cares descending in gradation from general to particular that the mass of human affairs may be best managed for the good and prosperity of all.

Jefferson had an innate understanding that the most responsive government was that which was closest to the people. He was also a product of his times in that the fledgling Republic was a mostly culturally homogeneous collection of individualists who were self-sufficient and cherished freedoms above dubious protections from an intrusive government. His vision for the Republic is often simplistically derided as an agrarian view of a geographically large and untamed country that was too unwieldy to adequately govern centrally. Rightfully so, he championed the real representation that only occurs at the smaller units of government. With the ratification of the Constitution decades behind him, Jefferson realized citizens could rely upon the protections of the Bill of Rights to safeguard individual liberty, even as the original articles of the document minimized the role and power of the central government.

What Jefferson and others Founders warned against was the coming usurpation of individuals' and states' rights at the hands of that central government. Through force of arms, President Lincoln established the primacy of the federal government and the diminution of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. From the conclusion of the Civil War to the Progressive Era of the early 20th Century and on to today, the overreach of the national government has steadily eroded the ability of state and local governments to govern in relative constitutional autonomy. In turn, the concentration of power in Washington has led to a plethora of societal and economic evils that far exceed the scope of this treatise. The point is that those who sit in executive branch, legislative branch, or judicial branch authority in Washington, D.C. all came from somewhere. Their ascension to power did not occur at the levels they currently occupy.

President Obama's political career began at the state level. Obama ran for and was elected to the Illinois State Senate 13th District in 1996. Although financed and guided by a large cabal of known and shadowy benefactors possessing similar ideological passions, Obama and those like him nonetheless understood that community organizing and local political associations are necessary building blocks for long-term policy change. These progressives and statists did not emerge on the scene overnight. Their political infrastructure and power bases were decades in the making.

Long-term success for conservatives must include an understanding that local and state governments are the breeding grounds for tomorrow's national leadership. The GOP has made impressive gains in statehouses and governorships throughout the country; but, these victories are not translating into a governing power structure in Washington. While state and local officials exhibit better responsiveness over their federal counterparts, these same politicians do citizens a great disservice by not challenging the incessant impositions of Washington. Both parties show an all too eagerness to accept federal monies in exchange for compliance with federal edicts. Our elected officials must inculcate the oft-stated but rarely heeded maxim from Milton Friedman: "There's no such thing as a free lunch." Federal money imparts federal control. Our elected leaders must stand by and with the Constitution and demand that the 10th Amendment and the original articles be observed in their intended purity. A generation or more may be needed to wean the states from federal largesse, but the states in turn will return more sovereignty to their capitals and to the people themselves in the process. Power must devolve away from Washington.

Envelope stuffing, phone bank calling, and precinct walking during election seasons are no longer enough. The other side does that too, and they are effective. Passive citizenship can be no longer be tolerated from the remnant that cherishes their liberty. A professional ruling class with its nanny-state dependents is seeing to it that this nation truly is "fundamentally transformed" into something the Founding Fathers would never recognize. Earning a living, caring for your families, and voting every two years alone cannot preserve our Republic. We must engage the opposition on the turf we ceded to them years ago. If we are not home schooling or providing private educations for our children, we must attend and lead the local PTA meetings. We must examine the curricula in the schools and demand that Americanism and free market economics are taught. We must hold teachers accountable, not only for failing to pull children kicking and screaming onto some arbitrary level of competency in math and reading, but for their complicit indoctrination of our youth in the apostasy of statism. Young and old alike must be reintroduced to the foundational principles of our unique heritage. Individual liberty is universal in its appeal and knows no demographical division. We must attend our city council meetings and demand accountability from those who would appropriate and spend our money on local matters, every bit as much as we scrutinize federal budgets. Citizenship in a free republic is hard. It demands self-education, time, and much effort. It requires us to sacrifice our leisure in the conduct of "eternal vigilance." The national election is over. There is little we can do about the outcome, no matter how righteous our claims of fraud and corruption against the opposition. What we can do is begin anew. Form neighborhood groups. Begin home-based associations with like-minded individuals. Involve yourselves like never before in the genesis of a new class of leaders dedicated to the advancement of liberty that will supplant the statists of today. Take the responsibility of teaching your children what it really means to be inheritors of the greatest nation ever established among men.

Do not awaken one day to realize that through your inaction you have been complicit in, as Ronald Reagan forewarned, sentencing your children to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness.