Today, our backyards -- tomorrow, Washington

Posted: Apr 12, 2009 12:00 AM

Our ability to stop the federal government from spending us, our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren into poverty appears inadequate. For most of the last five decades, the federal boys have spent out of control.

Today? Only more so.

Even worse, this main course of debt and diminished economic freedom invariably comes with a side-helping of reduced political rights.

Am I too pessimistic? In other contexts, a friend calls me a pathological optimist. But reality is reality . . . and solving a problem usually requires recognizing it first.

The problem isn't simply that President Barack Obama is a recurring nightmare, a mere 82 days into his administration. Ranting about Obama and the Democrats, however thoroughly justified, should not obscure the hard, cold fact that this very same big government mentality dominated a government wholly captured by Republicans.

There is nothing partisan about our predicament.

And there is always hope, because there are so many committed and courageous freedom-loving Americans, as I regularly report to readers of my Common Sense e-letter. Somehow, we'll find a way to save our Republic, to restore our liberty to breathe the sweet air of this land into our lungs and then, also, to exhale.

(This is not merely vague, lofty rhetoric. Our government has already determined that we are "polluting" the planet by breathing out carbon dioxide . . . something I've grown quite fond of doing. No telling how long we'll be permitted to exhale.)

One easy step we can all take is to attend a Tea Party this Wednesday, April 15. Look for one in your area and take the time off work to go. Your country needs you.

Still, one day's expression of righteous outrage -- or even many such expressions and days -- will not win the battle against such powerful forces wealthy with our money. We need a strategy.

Even though the most expensive and serious violations of common sense and constitutional law emanate from the federal leviathan, we don't possess the power or the process to quickly improve the people's influence in Washington. The bulk of politicians of both parties are corrupt -- if not criminally then at least intellectually -- and the parties wholly captured by a cabal of special interests. Congressional elections consistently offer us no better choice than between Tweedlebum and Tweedlevil.

That's why we must focus our political energy at the state and local level. There we find politicians at least closer to home geographically, if not always in sentiment.

Let's not remain naive. Most state legislators and local politicians are barely more interested in representing the average citizen or upholding their constitutional duties than the shysters in Congress. But we are certainly better able to engage them. To educate them. To confront them. To replace them.

And to get around them, when necessary.

At the state and local level, most Americans have access to the processes of voter-initiated ballot measures, referendums and recalls. We can implement directly what victorious candidate after turncoat officeholder has refused to implement.

Incidentally, the constant attacks on the voter initiative process and the successful reforms enacted by the voter initiative are not unrelated. The forces of big government have been relentless in restricting the process and vicious in attacking those who use it. They know what I know: Empowered citizens are the only real threat to big government.

If we are to retake Washington, we must first take our state capitols and local councils. It is close to home that we voters have the most leverage, and we need our local and state governments as allies in restoring citizen control of the federal government.