The recent election results in Virginia and New Jersey – representing in part a strong repudiation of the threats to freedom over the past year – have energized many pro-liberty activists. It is imperative that we keep the pressure on.
But we can be sure the other side will try to trick us into damaging statements in order to discredit us, or lure us into time-wasting strategies. So here are a few things to remember:
* Let’s keep our eye on the ball. The ultimate goal of most in the pro-freedom and “Tea Party” movements is to restore constitutional limits to the federal government. Our Constitution – not any peripheral or personal causes – is what we are working for.
* Swarm, swarm, swarm. The focus for the short-term has to be to continue to “swarm” our elected representatives, get in their faces, and tell them over and over that more deficit spending or tax increases are simply unacceptable. So also is any major expansion of government control, particularly a takeover of heath care.
* Restoring limits on the feds. The focus long-term has to be one or more constitutional amendments to put the federal government’s house back in order and protect future generations from the kinds of assaults on our freedom we have faced over the last year. When a system breaks down, sometimes you have to patch up to set it right — just as our fathers and grandfathers adopted the 22nd Amendment to re-establish the two-term presidential tradition that Franklin Roosevelt had disregarded. That’s our situation now.
* 2010 elections. The focus medium-term is now the 2010 elections – not just for Congress, but particularly on the state level. This is because constitutional amendments to curb Congress’s powers are probably not going to come from Congress. The states will have to use the Constitution’s state-proposal procedure.
* Don’t let the bad guys marginalize you. Talk of actions such as secession suggest that we are the ones willing to destroy our constitutional system – when in fact the opposition has that dubious distinction.
* Work smart. The other side has a lot of people who work full-time in politics or who work for the government, which sometimes amounts to nearly the same thing. That’s in addition to Soros money. So we have to carefully husband our resources – devote your time and energy only to things that make sense in view of our goals.
* Don’t waste your time on impossible causes. Here are a few causes that are certain time-wasters: (1) impeaching Obama (impossible while the Dems control Congress, even assuming there are grounds to do so), (2) recalling U.S. Senators or Congressmen before their terms are up (there is no recall procedure authorized by the Constitution or federal law), and (3) secession movements (which, besides conceding the Constitution to the other side, overlooks the fact that they have the nuclear weapons).
* Again, keep your eyes on the ball – restore the Constitution. That means letters to the editor, candidate identification, working in the political party of your choice, fundraising, keeping in touch with others in the pro-freedom movement, and educating yourself by reading websites like The Cauldron and listening to great commentators like Jon Caldara.
Rob Natelson is a constitutional law professor at the University of Montana, and runner-up in the 2000 “open primary” for Governor of Montana. His opinions are his own, and should not be attributed to any other person or institution.