01 Mar 2017
[I’m giving a talk to Barry’s group in Houston, and he asked if he could get his message out through my blog. — Bob]
BY BARRY KLEIN
To reclaim liberty, embrace what’s working
Rolling back BigGov at the municipal level
with single issue politics … using the Texas model
The Left and Right have found each other compatible in the Lone Star State. Trans-partianship is proved effective at the city level. The key is to work one issue at a time.
In 2015 Forbes online did a story about city ballot initiatives as a local tactic that can be scaled nationally.
Texas conservatives have enjoyed multiple triumphs as citizen lawmakers. We are shrinking government in home rule cities with charter amendments and building capital for future campaigns. On several occasions Democrats have worked with us side by side. This reform tool can be employed in all 50 states. The unrecognized potential of this tactic, a legacy of the populist era, rests on the fact that US law allows Americans to petition in any city we chose.
Once conservative activists decide they want to be lawmakers using the clipboard they have to give thought to how others will receive their reform propositions because they will be asking people to approve them on a future election day. When making law the small government philosophy has to be tailored to the conditions at hand. Political realism trumps rhetoric.
In the US we have 5,400 home rule cities. Dozens of small cities are typically found in major urban areas. This means teams of six reformers can complete a petition drive in a few days and move on to other cities. This tactic can be quickly scaled to a countrywide strategy. Hundreds of such drives can occur yearly. One of our resources is Ballotpedia, an on-line service provided by the Lucy Burns Institute, a libertarian group based in Wisconsin.
Texans have used this tactic to stop zoning in three Texas cities, stop water fluoridation, and kill two useless public work projects. It’s a perfect tool to attack the local plutocracy, crony capitalism, and barriers to employment that cities often create. Statist policies are ripe for reform using local ballot initiatives and non-partisan activism. Moreover, the vast majority of cities are small enough that it is a tactic that can be self-funded by volunteer signature gatherers. No waiting to find donors.
Every completed petition drive and election victory builds strength and morale. Because cities reflect the same big government tendencies of mission creep, regulatory overreach and special interest legislation found at the state and federal levels, local initiatives convert cities into classrooms for liberty. In these settings ethics and empiricism can be intertwined, and one can build an informed constituency eager to apply their new insights to all levels of governance.
Hundreds of policy changes annually is a quick way to set the tone of the national conversation. In this way we can transform our country. Let’s start now! Let the revolution begin. (Call or email for details.)