Practicing Politics: Ignoring it will make things a lot worse for gun owners
By Chris & Jeff Knox
Conditions have lined up for 2010 to be the year of the perfect electoral storm. But in order to create the kind of storm the Republic needs, one that cleans out an insubordinate and defiant Congress, GunVoters and pro-rights activists need to get organized. The time to start is now. Just as my friend, noted author and radio host Dave Ramsey says about saving money, it's never too early to get involved in politics, but it's better to get involved late than not to get involved at all. Whether you're reading this in May, or October, you need to take action.
There are many ways to participate in the political process and all of them are important. The first, and most fundamental, is to vote. Make sure that you are registered to vote and that you show up on Election Day. Dismiss the excuses. I've heard them all and they are all lame.
"Voting conflicts with Opening Day." Do you want to keep your "sniper" –uh- deer rifle? Get a mail-in or absentee ballot.
"They draw jury pools from voter registration rolls." We need more gun people on juries. Besides, most states draw jury pools from driver license rolls.
"I don't want to be on a list." You're already on a passel of lists. Deal with it. Don't cower. Stand up and take your country back.
"My vote won't make that much difference." Nonsense. America entered the 21st Century with the closest Presidential election in history in 2000. That and other momentous elections have been decided on razor thin margins. Comedian Al Franken won a Senate seat by 312 votes. A few votes can make a huge difference.
As important as it is to vote in the November general election, it is even more important to vote in the primary. In many districts, the primary is the real election. With a smaller pool and a lower turnout your vote has more effect. If you follow the primary campaign, you'll develop a feel for the issues, and you'll get to know the candidates. The world of politics is a small town and you'll see the same faces. Last year's losing legislature candidate could be next year's winning county commissioner.
Voting matters, but your vote matters more when you bring votes with you. Not only do you need to make sure you're registered, you need to make sure that the people around you are registered as well – your family, friends, club members, guys at the range. When you find a candidate you can support, you can help that candidate get elected by talking to your friends. Just telling a friend that you know a candidate who is running, that you think he's a good guy, and suggesting that he deserves their vote can make a huge difference, especially in a tight race.
An extra step you can take is to become a Deputy Registrar and register voters yourself. In some states you have to take a class, but in others you simply fill out a form, swear an oath to abide by the rules and grab a stack of forms. Every gathering of gun people is a gathering of potential GunVoters. Gun shows, matches, club meetings, all can benefit from the added dimension of registering voters. Contact your county clerk for details.
If you follow the primary campaigns and get to know the players, and like to meet people and network, you may want to take the step into the wider world of party politics. Political parties are built around precincts, which are the very lowest political subdivision. If you look at the very bottom of your general election ballot you will probably see a few names running for the office of Precinct Committee Member. It's not unusual to have several blank spots. Quite often membership on a precinct committee can be yours for the asking.
What party you choose to join is up to you, but it is a choice not to be taken lightly. Both major parties richly deserve the contempt they receive, particularly from the independent voters. But the system is rigged to favor the parties. The Libertarian Party is a great movement, but regrettably, has demonstrated little ability to put candidates in office. Few other "third" parties are worth consideration.
All political parties should be well-salted in their rank and file with GunVoters, so make your choice and run with it. The precinct committees manage all their party's political activities in their neighborhood. Pitching in and helping can create goodwill and can give you a level of influence that might surprise you.
The precinct committees also have a great deal of influence on candidates and the campaigns they run, as well as on the politicians once they are elected. "All politics is local." So said past-master politician Tip O'Neill. The precinct committees are not only a source of volunteers for campaigns, they are also sounding boards for new issues. Every politician picks a few bellwether constituents from their district to provide feedback and advice as to what the folks at home think.
Regardless of how distasteful, boring, or frustrating you might find our political process, it is what we have and ignoring it won't make it any better. As a matter of fact, ignoring it will make things a lot worse.