The Key to Practical Federalism Is You

The Key to Practical Federalism Is You

Breitbart News Network, American Principles Project, and Cornerstone Action are co-sponsors of an upcoming forum centered on the principles of federalism. More information about the forum can be found at Cornerstone, American Principles Project, and Breitbart News.

Although the Tea Party took the 2010 elections by storm, and its influence is still apparent in grassroots politics nationwide, it never became the constant presence–and, by extension, authority–many expected it would become. 

This frustrates some who still try to rally citizens and to engage with the same fervor as we saw leading up to 2010. But if the recent 2014 election taught us anything, it’s that while the Tea Party’s passion and principles are important, consistency and practicality are the keys to restoring limited government and individual liberty.

On Saturday, November 22, I will join a group of speakers from across the country to discuss “Practical Federalism” at Southern New Hampshire University. As an attorney and lobbyist in Wyoming, I have spent the last four years battling for health care freedom, free speech, gun rights, land rights, and the right to earn a living in the courts and in the state legislature. It’s been a good four years–indeed, I began this work just before the 2010 election–but there’s a long way to go, and for every good piece of public policy to promote there are often dozens of bad ideas to counter. Policy organizations like mine, the Wyoming Liberty Group, are a growing and potent influence at the state level. But we’re often outnumbered, out-funded ,and, to say the least, unappreciated for our frequent challenges to the status quo.

When I’m told by a fellow citizen about an issue I should tackle, I usually encourage him or her to address the issue instead or with some assistance from my organization. Too often this is met with dismay or even disgust, usually drawn from the belief that average Joes and Janes are powerless and that I possess some sort of magic that makes my words count. To be sure, I’m blessed to do this for a living, but that’s frankly a poor excuse to stay aloof. Legislators, especially at the state level, hear so infrequently from regular taxpayers that informed, polite discussions about certain policy matters can carry even more influence than from lobbyists like me. A small group of citizens or even an individual taking up a single issue can become an authority, whether in Wyoming or California. There will be setbacks and frustrations– and we should never let ourselves believe that liberty is inevitable– but we only lose when we quit.

Benjamin Franklin famously described our nation as “a republic, if you can keep it!” I expect the lineup of speakers this Saturday will deliver some inspiring stories and strategies for advancing liberty in New Hampshire and beyond, but even if it’s a resounding success like the 2010 election this will in most ways just be one day in November. To embrace practical federalism, to restore federal and state governments that respect liberty above authority, means engaging today, tomorrow, and so on. There is no single election or bill that will stop and push back overreach by the federal or state governments; the only solution is citizenry. That is, the only solution is you.

Steve Klein is Staff Attorney and Research Counsel for the Wyoming Liberty Group and will be speaking at “Practical Federalism: How the Federal Government is Silencing the People” forum in Hooksett, New Hampshire on Saturday November 22nd, 2014.