Many of the liberty-minded and tea party groups in Tennessee are gearing up for the 2014 elections. Groups and coalitions are forming up to “beat this guy” or “elect that gal,” which is all well and good. Getting good people who understand the constitutional principles of the founders 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 that politician’s campaign for federal office. Needless to say, the offer was soundly refused.
The Tenth Amendment Center does not endorse candidates or politicians, and it never will. Here’s why.
First, people disappoint. With rare exception, even politicians that start out with the best of intentions and commitment to their principles becomes corrupted over time with access to power. It’s a given that no human being is perfect or infallible. That’s why at the Tenth Amendment Center, our allegiance is to the ideals and principles of the Constitution – never to politicians.
While we work with a select few politicians 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 call out politicians for both good and bad behavior instead of being caught in the predicament of ignoring bad behavior because of an endorsement.
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 by pushing back via legislation at the state 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 focus on state-level Tenth Amendment legislation that re-asserts the constitutional powers retained by the state governments.
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.
Lesley Swann is a Co-Host for Tenther Radio and the state chapter coordinator for the Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center. She is a native of Anderson County, Tennessee.
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