Many of the liberty-minded and tea party groups in Tennessee and across the country are gearing up for the 2014 elections. Groups and coalitions are forming up to “beat this guy” or “elect that gal.” This is all well and good. Getting good people who understand constitutional principles into office and keeping them there is a noble and important endeavor.
Not surprisingly, the Tenth Amendment Center gets constant requests to endorse candidates, or join coalitions to choose candidates to run for a particular office. A few months ago, a Tennessee state politician offered the Tenth Amendment Center $1,000 to support a campaign for federal office. Needless to say, the offer was flatly refused.
The Tenth Amendment Center does not endorse candidates or politicians, and it never will.
People aren’t infallible.
First, people disappoint. With rare exceptions, even politicians that start out with the best of intentions and a commitment to their principles become corrupted over time with access to power. It’s a given that no human being is perfect or infallible. That’s why we maintain our allegiance to the ideals and principles of the Constitution – never politicians.
While we work with a elected officials to accomplish our goals, we are adamant about maintaining our objectivity and independence. Suppose a politician runs a good Tenth Amendment bill, then turns around and does something incredibly stupid. An endorsement implies that we support all aspects of a politician’s policy initiatives. But by maintaining our objectivity, we can praise elected officials when they do the right things, and call out politicians when they stray. Keeping our distance from campaigns keeps us from getting caught in the predicament of having to ignoring bad behavior because of an endorsement.
Chasing every barking dog…
Second, the Tenth Amendment Center is not equipped with the resources to run election campaigns. Our focus is activism. As with any group, resources are limited, and the goal of the Tenth Amendment Center is to push back against unconstitutional federal actions through legislation at the state and local level. The volunteer manpower needed to handle the activism work is already strained to the limit, so it would be impossible to add the additional burden of trying to adequately vet a wide variety of candidates for various offices and then promote them.
By “chasing every barking dog,” so to speak – whether that be election campaigns or even good legislation that has nothing to do with the Tenth Amendment – TAC’s resources would be spread far too thin to accomplish anything. This is why we maintain a laser-sharp focus on state-level Tenth Amendment legislation that re-asserts the constitutional powers retained by the state governments.
What can you do?
We’re not saying that elections aren’t important – at least at the state and local level. While our focus is pushing legislation that allows states to reclaim the powers guaranteed to them under the Constitution, it’s still important that good people who support the Constitution and the Tenth Amendment are elected. It’s even more important to hold those politicians already in office accountable for their stances on Tenth Amendment issues.
When faced with a candidate or incumbent politician, ask them about the Tenth Amendment and other constitutional issues publicly. Make them take a stand one way or another, and get it on camera if you can, so it can be posted to YouTube. This will let other people know where the politician stands, or if instead of answering, the politician dances around the subject. If the politician breaks the promise later on, then the video can be used against them when trying to remove them from office. Share this with your friends.
If a politician votes in a way that is counter to the Constitution or the Tenth Amendment, call them out on it publicly, like the Tenth Amendment Center did when Tennessee Senator Brian Kelsey chose to support Obama’s gun control scheme. Write a letter to the editor for your local paper. Call in to your local talk radio stations. Make sure everyone knows this politician does not support your constitutional rights or the powers reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment and needs to be replaced.
Finally, DO get involved in the elections of good candidates after you have thoroughly vetted them, or consider running yourself if there is no one else running who shares your values. By getting involved, you can play a critical role in replacing bad politicians with good people and advancing the cause of constitutional liberty and the Tenth Amendment in your state.