Note:This is the introduction to Direct Citizen Action: How We Can Win the Second American Revolution Without Firing a Shot, published last week.
This book is for people who have concluded that America is in serious trouble because its government got too big. I make no effort to prove that here. I and many others have done that at length elsewhere. It is simply an assumption of the book. So, this is a book for libertarians, Paulians, tea party people, limited government conservatives and anyone else who accepts the above proposition. Let’s call us the liberty movement.
Being a libertarian for thirty years, Ron Paul’s election lawyer in New York State in 2007—8, and a leader of the tea party movement should give me the credibility to say what needs to be done now. I am not some Johnny-come-lately to the cause or a paid political hack for any party or plutocrat. I received no outside support to write or publish this book. I’m a working-class lawyer who lives with his wife and two children in a three-bedroom home in a working-class neighborhood in North Buffalo.
The impetus for this book was my fear that the liberty movement is being set up for a big disappointment in 2010 and 2012. While public opinion is turning our way and millions of grassroots activists hit the streets to protest big government last year, the odds are that the same GOP establishment whose free-spending ways and nation-building wars set the stage for Obama, will be choosing the candidates for Congress this year and will choose the nominee against Obama in 2012. These folks are unapologetic about their decades of support for big government policies, yet they will cleverly say the things their consultants tell them to say to appeal to the liberty movement.
There will be elation on election night this year, but then the sellouts will occur just as they did during the Reagan years, after the 1994 Republican u201CRevolutionu201D and after the Republicans achieved total control of the federal government during the Bush years. I can see this happening because I have watched politics closely for many decades and I know how GOP operatives think and act.
Please understand that I do not oppose political activity altogether. Since I am a political consultant for liberty movement candidates, that would be economic suicide! My point is that electoral politics should be engaged in with great selectivity, only when the candidate is golden, such as Ron Paul, and other circumstances dictate that the scarce resources of the liberty movement can be applied to great effect in a key race.
Instead, our primary focus should be on the numerous and highly effective methods of direct citizen action that have been neglected by our movement but which have been highly effective in other times and places. Many of the ideas I propose here will also make electoral success for the liberty movement much more likely.
In the realm of politics, the best chance the liberty movement has is not winning elections but convincing states and localities to stop cooperating with the federal government. I believe the Tenth Amendment Movement. as it is known, has great potential. Early on, I criticized this movement for too much talk — meaningless resolutions — and not enough action such as telling the Feds where they can put all their money with anti-federal strings attached. Here’s my post from March 10, 2009 on LewRockwell.com:
When words on paper have failed, add more words
That’s how I see the state sovereignty resolutions, at least those I have read. This Arizona resolution urges the federal government to start respecting the Tenth Amendment. I have news for the drafters. They think they are respecting the Tenth Amendment. Here’s what the resolution should have said if the supporters were really serious and not just chasing headlines or self-delusions. u201CAll state legislation enacted under threat of the withdrawal of federal funds, and all state legislation that facilitates the administration of unconstitutional federal programs is hereby repealed.u201D
I urge this movement to avoid direct confrontations with the Feds and instead use a more Zen-like approach: non-cooperation in all discretionary matters.1 For example, while the Feds, with the blessing of our post-New Deal rubber-stamp Supreme Court, can apparently enact any drug laws it so chooses, I am not aware of any legal obligation that states and localities have to waste their scarce resources on the Feds’ stupid drug war. The best way to end the drug war is not through lobbying Congress but by persuading key cites to stop wasting their scarce resources on a destructive and unwinnable war.
For the latest developments in the Tenth Amendment Movement, see Michael Boldin’s great website, TenthAmendmentCenter.com.
I am keeping this book concise to keep the cost down and make it available to a large readership. Therefore, please refer to my websites, PoliticalClassDismissed.com and FreetheChildren.US for further information and updates on direct citizen action in these times.
- I hinted at such a strategy in my 1998 article on secession. “Was the Union Army’s Invasion of the Confederate States a Lawful Act?” in Secession, State & Liberty, David Gordon, ed., (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1998).
James Ostrowski is an attorney in Buffalo, New York and author of Political Class Dismissed: Essays Against Politics, Including "What’s Wrong With Buffalo." His latest book is Direct Citizen Action: How We Can Win the Second American Revolution Without Firing a Shot. See his website.