Acting Locally, Thinking Nationally
It might seem like we’ve completely butchered the saying “Think Globally, Act Locally.” Rather, we’re re-purposing the concept for politics. Every election, you hear candidates and interest groups claiming that it is the most important election in history. A cynic might view this message as being fueled by the egos of politicians. But a savvy political activist would realize that there is often an element of truth to the claim, at least for some issue at any given time.
For example, in 2008, gun owners could claim that the election was the most important election for their cause. In the Heller decision, the Supreme Court kept their opinion very narrow to the question at hand. In fact, the question posed to the Court was kept deliberately narrow to the issue of handgun ownership in the District of Columbia because the Court had not yet ruled on the matter of individual Second Amendment rights. Because of the opinion, the next cases will determine the practical scope of the Second Amendment. In fact, we’re already facing cases that will determine whether or not the rights extend to the states.
With the presidential election, appointments to the Supreme Court are absolutely vital for the future of the Second Amendment. Unfortunately, with a President who has the most hostile record on Second Amendment rights in history, the first Court appointment is a Justice who has already ruled that states may ban guns, and Heller only applies to the federal government. Her judicial philosophy on gun ownership is one that would allow local and state governments to ban guns with no accountability to the people or the courts. In fact, 2008 was one of the most important elections that gun owners have ever faced.
It’s easy to assume that elections in 2009 (NJ & VA) and 2010 are not nearly as important as presidential elections. However, that is simply not true – though you might not realize why. Most people would say that the Congressional elections of 2010 will be important for many other issues – health care, cap and trade, and other Obama Administration priorities. But state elections may well have the most long-lasting impact on the political fights for gun rights.
A Democratic political organizer recently posted this explanation for why mobilizing for state elections may lead to a decade or more of political power or being left in the political wilderness.
But if you really want to see a shift in power in Washington for the next decade or longer, pay attention to who wins the STATE legislatures next November. The state representatives and state senators elected 15 months from now will preside over the rawest political act in America: the redrawing of congressional and legislative district lines based on the results of the decennial census. Redistricting is legislative sausage-making at its finest, with members jockeying to preserve or extend their own power-bases at the expense of enemies.
Most people don’t consider a Census to be terribly political. However, the power of the Census can cost entire Congressional districts, or even move current politicians into brand new districts away from constituents they have represented for decades. Following the 2000 Census, Pennsylvania lost two members of Congress. It has been predicted that Pennsylvania will lose another Congressional seat following the 2010 count. In the redistricting process, we could lose a pro-gun voice in Congress.
Redistricting can be ugly regardless of which party is in charge, but it’s also going to happen, regardless of which party is in charge. So if you really want to influence the political course of this country over the next decade (at least), you have the chance — if you work to elect state legislators whose views align with yours, and if you get started NOW.
Early support for state candidates can make a huge difference in the success of their campaign. If you would like to learn how you can help your local pro-gun voices or those in districts near you, just submit a request.