Great bills like constitutional carry and terrible bills like red flag laws are moving through state capitols, and if we want to advance liberty, we simply have to pay attention. Every state legislature except those of Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana are in session, with the former two convening in March and Louisiana joining in April. With as much coverage as there is on the federal government, and as much as their power has expanded past its constitutional role, it’s easy to forget that the majority of laws affecting your life happen at the state or local level.
The good news is, efforts are amplified at the local level. A lack of general interest means less players and more influence ready to gain. Liberty has advanced at state levels across many issues, like marijuana legalization and reform, which has affected 35 states but seen little movement from the federal government. Constitutional carry, or permitless carry, was just passed in the 14th state, South Dakota. Florida and Iowa are restoring voting rights to felons this year. Historically, most major laws started in states long before becoming federal. Slavery was abolished by Vermont nearly a hundred years before the Civil War. Every other state but Illinois had some form of legal carry before McDonald v. City of Chicago was decided in 2010.
Federalism is still alive in this country, and we have to take advantage of it if we want to reclaim our liberties.
The bad news is, statists are great local organizers. Unions are powerful (and often corrupt) local political lobbies. Socialists have no jobs, and thus all the time in the world to convince people to force you what to do (okay; obviously, some have jobs, but seriously, socialists are great organizers). They’re banning straws on the West Coast. They’re passing red-flag laws just about everywhere (13 states total, 8 gained since last year). Hawaii is even trying to ban cigarettes. To stand a chance, we have to match their efforts.
If you’re already involved, great, recruit your friends. If you’re not, please try.
Organizations like AFP and Young Americans for Liberty are liberty-oriented organizations focusing largely at a state level, with the former lobbying and rallying public interest, and the latter getting 38 state representatives elected in the the past year (including a win just this Tuesday in South Carolina).
State and local political parties are always looking for active members, and not just during election season. And if neither are an option for you, even grassroots organization can have a big effect. After all, that’s how Thomas Massie got his start: showing up at county meetings, bringing like-minded people with him, developing a following, and eventually getting drafted to run for county judge executive, and later the U.S. House of Representatives.
Even if you can only send letters to the editor or call your elected representatives, that’s more than most are willing to do, and it could have a bigger impact than you would think (especially on smaller issues where people simply aren’t informed).