By Jeff Knox
(February 5, 2018) If you care about your rights, your finances, your children’s future, there is a way for you to dramatically impact those things, and it’s not really that difficult or time-consuming.
Most Americans view politics as something of a necessary evil. To them, it is an activity going on in a separate world, like the salacious scandals of Hollywood or the curious culture of ancient Egypt. They gossip about it, “tut-tut” over news reports, and retweet catchy comments from their favorite political commentators, but when it comes down to the real nuts and bolts of politics and the political process, very few Americans are really paying attention to, much less engaged in, the political process.
Gun guys are only a little better, with some actually keeping tabs on current legislation, and making calls or sending emails to legislators. Some even get involved every two years to help support a local candidate or turn out for a rally, but even most folks who consider themselves politically active, really aren’t effectively engaged in the process.
Former Democrat Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill made famous the phrase; “All politics is local,” and he was absolutely right about that. I’ve said in this space before that “little politicians grow up to be big politicians.” That’s part of the local influence. While we occasionally see someone who has never held a political office, jump in and get elected to high office, as Donald Trump did, it is much more common for politicians to work their way up the ladder, from a city council or school board seat to a state legislative seat to Treasurer or Governor or Congress. That’s why I call on GunVoters to vote guns all the way down the ticket. Opposing the Second Amendment should be a disqualifying position, regardless of whether that office has any bearing on your gun rights. That office is likely to be a stepping stone to higher offices where they could have a negative impact on rights. If you really want to vote for them, you have to educate them first, and if they can’t see the light, don’t let them put a foot on that political ladder.
The other, and more important way that all politics is local, is that support for politicians comes up from the grassroots. Conversely, it is almost impossible for a politician to accomplish anything without some sort of organized party structure behind them to get the grassroots moving in their favor; that’s the part that often works from the top down. But, as has already been stated, most people don’t really get involved in politics, and most of those who do, only do for a short time around election season. While most Americans can tell you who the President is, a good many would be hard-pressed to name the Vice President, and even fewer can name both their senators and their representative.
The smallest geographic unit in the official political structure is the precinct, which is also known by other names in various states, but it generally encompasses several hundred homes, and as many as several thousand residents. Each precinct is represented within the party structure by several Precinct Committeemen, and unless you are a Precinct Committeeman yourself, it is unlikely that you even know what precinct you live in, much less who is representing your precinct within your political party. But PC’s, as they are called, are at the heart of the party structure. Virtually everyone within the party machinery starts off as a PC, and most continue in that capacity as they move up through the ranks. This is where and how you can make a real difference.
Parties are always looking for people to fill vacant PC seats, and the person they find could be you. In most places, you can be appointed to a PC position, then you usually have to run for the office, but since there are usually more seats than candidates, getting elected is usually a slam-dunk. If you happen to be in one of those rare precincts with a full slate, just attending the monthly meetings regularly will usually gain you enough notice to make a successful bid.
Once you’re in, you can work as much or as little as you want. Obviously, the more you do, the more effective you will be, and the higher up the ladder you can climb.
Being a PC gives you an inside track to meeting and working with politicians and political candidates. Even if you do little in the way of organizing or working your way up within the party, you are part of the official family, and have much greater access than the average voter. Joining political clubs, attending meetings, walking around meeting your neighbors, all give you a higher profile and more influence. Then when election season rolls around, you can be positioned as the go-to guy on gun issues, with politicians coming to you to ask how they should answer a questionnaire or why they should vote for or against a particular bill.
Right now, here in Arizona, we had a good, pro-rights representative suddenly resign. The guy he asked to step up and run for his seat happens to be from my Legislative District, where I have been a PC. Now I am not only working to elect a solid A+ candidate to Congress, I’m doing it on the inside, spending time in the field with the candidate and the people who are likely to be his staff.
Making financial contributions is really important, but if you really want to be an influential political player, nothing beats walking neighborhoods with the candidate, and sharing pizza with his family and volunteers.
Being a PC also opens the door to chasing your own political aspirations. Perhaps you want to be the candidate some day. Working on other people’s campaigns is a really great way to learn the process and lay the foundations for your own campaign down the road.
This month, I’m making calls and knocking doors for Steve Montenegro. Next month I’ll be talking to candidates for City Council, the State Legislature, and statewide offices. And all of them will know my name, recognize my face, and appreciate what I’m doing for them. And all it takes is a little bit of time and some shoe leather.
All politics really is local, so get involved locally today, and make an impact.