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Grassroots Strategy: Holding Elected Officials Accountable

Conservative and Constitutional activists may have suffered a plethora of defeats in the last election cycle, but your presence was felt and your effect was significant. The Republican Party had to spend millions of dollars to defeat more qualified candidates, and were forced to make public just how dirty they are willing to fight to keep their voters from having a say in Party Politics (Mississippi). Giving up isn’t really an option for any of us; even libertarian activists like myself have to stomach defeat, accept reality, and keep on keeping on.

Between now and the 2016 Presidential Election, many conservatives and constitutionalists are asking, “What should we be doing now?”.

There are a lot of things going on that you can become a part of: You could embrace the Article V movement, which many activists are afraid of. You could embrace the unconstitutional nullification movement, a kind of “fight fire with fire” nuclear approach to modern political warfare. I don’t support it, but it’s got some momentum.

There is a third option, which I find particularly fascinating, and which strangely is frowned upon more than Article V or Nullification. Imagine, if you will, a grassroots effort to pressure legislators to do two things: First, to impose upon themselves term limits. Second, to impose upon themselves criminal liability for the laws they propose and the laws they pass. (Hat tip: Catherine Crabill, who had the courage to imagine this).

The idea that our legislators are allowed to propose and pass unconstitutional laws, which may or may not be overturned by the courts, without penalty is insane. If I rob a bank, which is illegal, the courts don’t “overturn” my behavior. No, they throw me in jail, they fine me, they make me wear orange (and I hate orange!).

So why are our elected officials allowed to commit crimes against the State or against the Union as a whole, without any criminal liability whatever? Essentially, the only penalty our representatives experience for crimes against the Constitution is that their laws are eventually overturned? We have to wait years for the Supreme Court to overturn a handful of illegal acts by our President, and he’s still President? Really? If there are no consequences for their actions while in Congress or in Office, why in the world would we imagine that they’d behave better than they do?

So here is what I propose: that our state legislators set an example by setting the highest possible standard for their commitment to the Virginia Constitution. Legislators that vote for, write, or sponsor, unconstitutional bills, should be held criminally liable for doing so.

If not, what else is there? So, I understand that such a proposition is as likely as term limits, and I understand that our representatives are “all about Eve”, but how else can we hold them accountable? I’m a realist and I do have some suggestions about what to do, if doing something radical and principled is out of the question.

1.  Call your Congressman about every bill he votes on, before he votes and after she votes. Let them know what you think.

  1. Be open to voting against your Congressman and Senator, your Delegate or State Senator, if they vote for bills that aren’t constitutional or aren’t in Virginia or America’s best interest.

  2. Bob Shannon, a Virginia TEA Party Leader, has also set an example by organizing protests outside of Congressional Offices. Look, I know these protests might not change the world, but we need to let our Representatives know just how much we disapprove of their records. If we don’t show up, with numbers, then they just laugh at our facebook comments and our emails and our letters to the editors, and move forward, ignoring us. We need to make our presence felt.

  3. The TEA Party needs to get more involved in recruiting credible candidates. Establishment Republicans should be forced to face quality opposition every two years. Win or Lose, we need to find alternatives, we need to support them, finance them, and vote for them. Even if we lose, I promise you, your “establishment” Congressman will get tired of fighting vigorous fights every two years. They will start to listen. They will fight for you. They want their jobs and their power and their prestige. Make them understand that their jobs depend upon your voice and your votes.

  4. Expect more from your TEA Party’s. Expect more from your bloggers. Expect more from your local activists. What are we doing? Really. What are we doing? Are we courageous leaders, fighting the good fight, standing up, publicly, taking on a political party we support and we vote for? Or are we just hot air? Hot words and no action?

Here at Virginia Right, We show up and we’re there when it matters. We don’t just write about campaigns, we join them. Here is my point – hold everyone accountable. Do not accept compromise and acquiescence. Fight, win or lose, fight and keep on fighting. I’m with you. We’re with you.

 

 

About Steven Brodie Tucker

Graduated with a degree in Philosophy from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Also studied economics and political science at George Mason.

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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