Former Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neal once said “All politics is local.” He simply and correctly meant that all politicians, especially members of the House who answered to the Congressional districts that voted them in office were beholden to their needs. They should vote to appease the mundane and every day concerns of their constituency. It certainly applied to the House of Representatives when Tip was Speaker. Despite deep divisions between the Republicans and Democrats, Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neal, the Execute branch and Congress did actually worked together, they compromised on issues and moved forward as best they could during the 1980’s. Members of the House had to take the concerns of all those who were eligible to vote for them or against them, not just a small class of people.
Today it would appear that the maxim “All politics is local” no longer truly applies. Strike that, it still applies; it’s just not being implemented anymore.
Instead of being beholden to all the people in their districts, they are beholden to a small fraction. In fact, they are more and more beholden to a small fraction that do not even live or vote in their districts.
The concern of those who are willing to give campaign donations, those who are willing to help organized political action committees and produce ads and buy air-time seem to get all the attention. Instead of the people in their districts, House member look more to the 1% and political action committees like the Koch Brother’s Heritage Foundation, CATO Institute, American for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, and ALEC as well as David Keene’s and Wayne LaPierre’s NRA. Note that these organizations all have a lot of money provided to them by the Koch Brothers and others in the one percent, yet represent the views of a very small fraction of the population of the United States. Note that the NRA only has 4 million members and over three-fourths of those do support the gun safety regulations that the NRA are officially against.
National polling is clearly showing that vast majorities of the entire nation, regardless of party affiliation, income bracket, race, ethnicity, sex or sexual orientation agree not only to universal and complete background checks for the purchase of fire-arms. They also support the banning of certain Military Style Assault Weapons and High Capacity Magazines. Further, fewer people in the nation even own guns anymore and that shrinking percentile who do, are buying all the weapons.
Despite this, Congress appears unwilling to do the people’s business, to adhere to the mundane and every day concerns of those who vote them into office. They have instead watered down gun safety regulations to favor the gun manufacturers and sellers. They will not proceed on bans of Assault Weapons and High Capacity Magazines. The people know that the longer we permit the status quo to continue, there will be more Newtown massacres, more innocent men, women, children and babies will be slaughtered so that the Gun Manufacturers can continue to make obscene profits off of their deaths.
So what can we as a nation do about this?
Those who’ve read this blog know that I try to spend most of my time on two major issues, Gun Violence and the Midterm Elections. Here’s where the two match up.
In 2014 the midterms will soon arrive. The Republicans and their supporters (or owners depending on your point of view) know that voter turnout is always low for the midterms. They use this low turnout not only to get more of their people elected to office at all levels of government, they use it to get “voter driven” ballot initiatives passed that favor the rich and special interests. This is where ALEC comes in. They write legislation for the extreme right-wing, corporate agenda, then use Koch money to hire petition gatherers in the various states and regions to get their initiatives on the ballot. Then by taking advantage of low voter turnout, they get constitutional changes and or new laws that favor their agenda. Bans on Gay marriages, Pro-Life measures, Corporate Tax Cuts, “Right to Work” status, etc.
Many states in the Union permit voter driven initiatives, perhaps it’s time the people actually took advantaged in those states that permit it and start drives for constitutional amendments to ban Assault Weapons and High Capacity Magazines being sold in their states to anyone who isn’t an active duty member of law enforcement or the National Guard and use of such weaponry is restricted to their job.
Would it pass a United States Supreme Court challenge? Well all I can say is that the most conservative member of the Court is Antonin Scalia and he wrote in the Heller decision that laws regulated weaponry in permissible in the United States Constitution. Sorry Wayne LaPierre and 2nd Amendment Gun Lovers, looks like strict Constitutional Constructionist Scalia is a liberal when it comes to guns. So there you go.
Here is a Wikipedia link showing the history of voter driven referendum/initiatives and which states allow them:
Here’s a link to Initiative and Referendum Institute (IRI) that monitors them:
And here is a link to The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center:
The rest is up to you. Getting on Twitter and other forms of social media is fine. However, nothing can be accomplished for you at the midterms, or any other election for that matter unless you actually get active on the streets and push for the things that impact your lives. Further, you need to get others active and on the streets and most importantly, you need to get them to vote. Every vote is important. Even if the effort has little chance for a successful conclusion, you need to get people out to vote as if their lives depend on it. Simply put, their lives do depend on it.
Politics can only remain local if those of you at the local level get active now and stay active. Join up with other like-minded people and form a coalition that no billionaire group of oligarchs can stop. We still have the vote; let’s use it while we still can.