Most Americans are not involved in politics. According to the U.S. Census (which is only current through 2010), about 35% of the population votes in non-presidential election years, and about 50-55% vote in presidential election years. So only half the public bothers to vote for President. Every other election a little more than a third picks the entire House and 1/3 of the Senate. Most people think that voting is enough. It is NOT. I would call it a minimum standard for being a citizen. This is really only half of the way someone can influence how our nation is governed.
The other half of the equation – political parties – is a murky world that we are told is difficult to understand, expensive to participate in, and boring with no reward. There is a reason we are told this lie. Those who control the political parties have a vested interest in maintaining control of them. With a larger number of people involved, it becomes more difficult to control who runs for office, who receives campaign support including both financial support and volunteer help, and what agenda is served. Let me be clear:
Political parties are a tool to win elections.
Like any tool, they are not good or evil by their existence. They are only as good or bad as the people who populate the elected positions within them. Some will say they should be abolished or done away with – but that is not going to happen, since they are almost as old as our country and are just a tool for organizing behind candidates and causes. Many advocate for the creation of new parties – but I am not in that camp. The Republican Party has a strong core of people who believe in Constitutional Liberty, and I would rather grow that portion of it. Let me repeat – political parties are a tool. The question to ask is not how to eliminate them, but how to wield the tool, and in who’s hand with the tool rest?
Consider the following: most people pay the most attention to the wrong office. That would be the President of the United States. There is no question this is an important office, but it is the least consequential to most people’s daily lives. The city council, the county sheriff, the school board – these positions have much greater impact on the lives of average people. Going “up” the ladder, a state representative or senator has a greater impact within their state. As we can clearly see, Congress can’t even pass a budget – and most of what they do pass is harmful to most people and only benefits a few. So ask yourself, where can you have the most impact, and how?
In Oklahoma City – the largest city in Oklahoma – about 5000 people will vote in each ward for a council person. There are 8 wards. So, to do some math, 5 seats x 5000 people is 25,000 people. Cut that in half, and add a few for a majority and you have 13,000 people able to control this city, the budget, its policies and personnel, and everything else. Properly done, a political party can organize voters in each ward to elect a council person who reflects their values and platform. They can help with fundraising, or spend money independently. The entire city can be moved – in either political direction – due to the actions of a few motivated people willing to volunteer their time and effort to effect change. They just need to pick up the tool.
The long term impact of such actions is significant. If local offices become filled with a certain type of person – such as those with Constitutional Liberty as their guide – the pool of people running for state offices such as state house or state senate becomes filled with people of like mind. Those who would use government for their own ends instead of to protect the life, liberty and property of their fellow citizens will find themselves increasingly scarce. After a very short time this trickles up to the federal level as well. When people see results at lower levels, and failure at higher ones, they will start firing those who can’t produce or support the status quo.
Finally, how to get involved is relatively easy. This is an off year – there are no elections for public office. There are, however, many elections for party office in the Republican Party. In Oklahoma County, there are three meetings: Precinct, County, and State. Here is when they are and what they do:
Precinct: February 7th, a Thursday night. To be held at numerous locations around Oklahoma County. HERE is the official list, and you can go HERE to find your House District (the locations are by State House District). At these meetings Precinct Chair and Vice Chair positions will be elected. ALL PRECINCT POSITIONS WILL BE ELECTED THIS NIGHT. The Precinct Chair is part of the County Committee, which rarely meets but is one of three committees of the County Republican Party.
County: March 23rd, a Saturday (plan on all day). This is tentative and no location has been set yet. Positions to be elected include: Chair, Vice Chair, State Committee persons (2), Congressional District 4 Committee persons (2), and Congressional District 5 Committee persons (2). All of these positions take effect at the end of the convention, that day. These people are the ones who will guide the party – that is, wield the tool – for the next 2 years.
State: April 20th, a Saturday (plan on all day). This will be held at the Magnuson Hotel and Convention Center, 737 South Meridian, Oklahoma City. The election for State Chair and Vice Chair will be held this day – and the Chair is one of the three members of the Republican National Committee from Oklahoma (the other two were elected last May, and hold office until the close of the next national convention in 2016).
To sum up, beyond voting, spending one evening and two Saturdays this year has a huge impact on the direction and candidates of the political party that controls Oklahoma. In many counties it is not even that much time involved. Take the time. Show up and participate. Have some fun. It is a political party, right? Make your voice heard and your presence felt. It will be noticed – and after all, can you really think of anything more important than trying to fix our country?