Go Local, Make Your County A Rolemodel For The Future
The Schoolhouse Rock animated Bill was hung, drawn, and quartered before it was even imagined. According to the now notorious American Oligarchy study from Princeton and Northwestern political scientists, popular opinion has little to no effect on the policies sought and passed by Congress. The main identifier for what Congress wanted was whatever the top 10% of wealthy Americans asked for. These findings were based on policy data from 1982 to 2002. The Schoolhouse Rock animated bill first appeared in 1976, but I’m going to take a chance here and assume that American Democracy under Gerald Ford was not vastly superior to the 0% of representation recorded in the data from 6 years later.
This sounds like bad news from a ‘change comes from the inside’ activist’s perspective. All of the petitions, phone calls, and letters pushed by grassroots organizers only made a difference when their interests were also pushed by wealthy folk. However, there is a positive step to be taken and it is from the playbook of the conservative elite, in the guise of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. ALEC helps write and pushes legislation at the State and Local levels for the corporations and tycoons in its network through the lobbyists and politicians in its network. The Netflix documentary 13th exposes their for-profit-incarceration ties, and that’s just a glimpse into the devastation they have caused to non-corporate, non-wealthy Americans.
It is understandable for you to still be fuming about ALEC if you need to take a few moments…
So what we can learn, and what some lefty organizations have learned, from ALEC could be enough to help an organized movement leave ALEC’s agenda in the dirt along with the optimistic, singing, animated Bill. RIP to a fantasy. Congress might not listen to us but our State and Local officials are a lot closer to home. It is easier and cheaper to organize a statewide campaign across counties than a national campaign across states. And state and local elected officials spend approximately all of their office hours in-state.
If ‘the [Pinko] people’ were to coordinate a package of legislative priorities along with boilerplate language and organizing strategies we could make precedent for Progressive policies in hundreds of counties and tens-of-states before the elections in 2018. It is conceivable that we could push legislation for campaign finance reform, renewable energy standards, environmental protections, and voting rights protections in currently blue counties and states across the country.
This strategy is already being undertaken by American advocacy and issue groups. The Wolf-PAC has used a state-by-state strategy in their campaign to get two-thirds of the states to call for an amendment proposing convention to push The Free and Fair Elections Amendment. They currently have 5 of the 33 states necessary to call for the convention.
In May of 2016 Grant Township in Pennsylvania legalized civil disobedience in the face of the fracking industry, and the next month Spokane City in Washington state attempted to do the same.
To succeed in a state-by-state, legislative revolution we need millions of people willing to take part in the political process and civil disobedience. The people are there they just need to be connected to the opportunity to act. We also need policy wonks who are willing to abandon the status quo and cut their teeth in councils coming up with strategic priorities and legislative language that can be replicated and pushed across the country to the acclaim of the working class, the acquiescence of local politicians, and in defiance of the direct opposition of the political, industrial, and financial establishment.