That's what the top line of this poster says. It's a quote from Chairman Mao, who knew a thing or two about politics.
In our gerrymandered political landscape, it's easy to despair - there are so many examples: taxes are for the little guy, concealed carry permits are for the politically well connected. What's a Regular Joe to do?
Brigid has an excellent suggestion, that there's strength in numbers. But that's not the only way.
The Supreme Court reads the election returns. So do Congressmen. The power of the NRA doesn't come from its 4 million members. Rather, it comes from the NRA's perceived ability to speak to 100 million gun owners in a language that they understand. This is political power wielded on a wholesale level, and is a worthy effort.
While Congress has been effective in gerrymandering the districts, there is always a set of districts that remain competitive. Perhaps someone retired, and so the seat becomes open. Perhaps someone voted in a way that is very unpopular with what people in the district. Often, a swing of a few points will make a safe race into a cliff-hanger, or a close race into a defeat.
There's something that we sometimes forget, that give us our opportunity in these situations. Political power can also be wielded on the retail level. The main points made in both Glenn Reynold's An Army Of Davids and Hugh Hewitt's Blog is that the Internet has enabled each of us to create a relatively high-trust environment. Our circle of family and friends is also a high trust environment. The media doesn't matter there, nor does the current accepted political power structure.
Each of us can harness this, to exercise political power. Retail.
And so, here's my deal with the devil. Nicki Tsongas is the Representative for my district, the 5th Massachusetts. Here's the letter I've written to her office:
Dear Representative Tsongas:Kind of wordy, to be sure, but specific.
Enclosed please find my $50 donation to your re-election campaign, which you should know is the first political donation that I have ever made. I hope that it is a down payment on what will be a long-term relationship. Please understand that I am a registered independent, and quite frankly am very skeptical of your position on an issue of importance to me, the Second Amendment.
Unfortunately, you as a Democrat inherit a lack of credibility about protecting the rights of law abiding gun owners. Over the years, the party has developed a sort of negative credibility on this issue: when I hear a Democrat saying that they support the Second Amendment, I simply assume that I'm being lied to.
I would be delighted to find that you are a different sort of Democrat, and that you do not want to further erode the lawful use of firearms. To that end, I will commit to the following: I will increase my donation to $500, and I will sign up ten like-minded people in the 5th district to do the same. What I am asking for is the following information from your office:
These are all initiatives backed by the Democratic party, and which (mostly) are planks of the party platform. I believe that each of these will fail in their stated goals of reducing crime or protecting the environment, while at the same time inconveniencing the lawful use of firearms. Your opinions will be of great interest.
- Please let me know whether you think that I should be prevented from owning a so-called "assault weapon" such as the AR-15. In order to help you make this determination, let me state that I am not a convicted felon, and in fact have help Top Secret security clearances requiring investigation of my background by the intelligence services.
- Please let me know whether you support banning hunting rifles, such as the Thompson Center Triumph. As you may not know, this has recently been banned by the New Jersey Legislature (bill A2116, 12 June 2008). As you also may not know, this is a .50 caliber muzzle loading rifle, not known for its popularity among the gang bangers of Jersey City.
- Please let me know whether you support banning antique firearms because they are .50 caliber or above, as was done by this same New Jersey statute. As background information, this is of particular interest to me, as I am inheriting the family's Civil War musket carried by my great-great grandfather in Sherman's army. I would not want to become a felon for maintaining possession of a family heirloom.
- Please let me know whether you support the banning of lead ammunition (as was recently passed by the California legislature), or requiring the use of ammunition "micro-stamp" technology in new firearms, as was proposed in S.2605; I would also be very interested in your opinion on whether these proposals are back-door attempts to make ammunition prohibitively expensive for low-income Americans.
- Please let me know whether you believe that I should be prohibited from purchasing a firearm from my cousin, without a third party having run a background check. If you support closing the "Gun Show Loophole", please explain to me what percentage of firearms used in crimes are purchased via this loophole, and how legislation to prevent this will stop that illegal activity without preventing me from buying my cousin's firearm. To help you in this, let me state that he is not a convicted felon, either.
As I said, I hope that you are a different sort of Democrat. As further background, let me say that I believe that I am in a position to raise the stated contributions: I hold an executive position at a company in this district, I am active in the New England shooting community, and I write a blog with a small but rapidly growing readership (http://borepatch.blogspot.com/, there is a link there that will show you how many visits I have had).
But here's the rest of the deal. If you tell me that you support any of the five issues, or if your reply leads me to think that you are not being honest with me, or if you do not reply at all, then I will have no alternative than to think that you support your party's efforts to reduce my rights to own a firearm. In that case, I will donate to - and will actively raise the same contributions for - your opponent in the upcoming election.
Just so that you know, I do not, in fact, own any firearms, but I do not at all appreciate past efforts of your party (my old party) to prevent me from doing so.
I eagerly await your reply.
Now I don't have a lot of hope that Nicki Tsongas will change her doctrinaire view of gun control. However, I do think that the following conversation will be had in her office:
- This is a constituent that is paying attention.
- This is a constituent who has not been politically active in the past, but who is energized by this issue.
- For every constituent who sends a letter, ten (or a hundred) more don't.
- He says he thinks he can mobilize those ten. Maybe he can't, but he's not afraid to tell us how to check.
- We only got 51% of the vote in the last election.
Multiply this across 435 districts nation wide, and this gets up-close-and-personal to 435 Representatives. It will validate what they read in the polls, and it shows that we're watching them.
Do I like having to spend cash money to get my Representative to vote my way? Not at all. Do I think that she will be a doctrinaire supporter of the Democrat's statist claptrap? Yes I do.
Am I willing to make a deal with the Devil on this? Sure am. With enough of us, we can sell this, retail. The personal is political.
UPDATE 11 June 2009 20:53: Welcome visitors from The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles! Thanks for the link, Albert. Take a look around while you're here. If you like this post, you might also like this one on what the real problem with government is.