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It’s funny how the most innocuous and inconspicuous moments can turn out to be the most profound. My education and professional background is firmly rooted in the blood sport of politics. Outside of earning my degree in political science, and working in the field, I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent sitting in political campaign strategy conferences and seminars across the country. Yet, last night my wife, in two sentences, taught me more about politics than any professor, strategist or candidate ever has; and she didn’t even mean to!
Recently my wife accepted a teaching position at an alternative high school where troubled students are sent for a variety of learning and behavioral issues. She loves her new job. Every day when I walk in the door from work, she excitedly shares the latest stories from her classroom. Last night was no different, however after my brief on the finer points of how to explain a filibuster to a 14 year old, she said “You know, I used to think in order to change the world you had to do big things on a big scale, but now I see that in order to truly change the world you have to do big things in little worlds.” She was talking about her students, but her words hit me like a ton of bricks on a deeper philosophical level.
Politicians, PAC’s, think tanks, and pundits spend millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours in a tireless pursuit to start national conversations, spin stories, and win the hearts and minds of thousands at a time. If elections are our barometer, conservatives have missed the mark. Not because our message is wrong, but because our message delivery is short sighted. Pouring money into ad buys, or spending millions on demographic based outreach campaigns will continue to flounder if we don’t first develop relationships in the communities we are trying to reach. We need to be building for long term voter relationships, not a one night stand. Spamming neighborhoods with our message from afar is disingenuous at best and at times insulting. If we as a movement truly want to change the world, and revive the pursuit of liberty on a large scale, we must first change one mind and one heart at a time.
Showing up is half the battle. Instead of spending 10 million dollars on a minority outreach campaign, we should be volunteering at after-school programs in the communities we want to reach. Whose message would you be more likely to trust: the man in the million dollar commercial who has never set foot in your community, or the person who you see helping your child learn to read every afternoon? Before we as a movement can truly change the world, we must first focus on changing little worlds; one individual, one family, one block, and one neighborhood at a time.
I firmly believe that a passion for liberty is an innate, intrinsic human desire. Our message of maximum liberty and unadulterated freedom has the potential to impact millions. We in the grassroots have been working to cultivate a community around ideas rooted in liberty. It is time to stop relying on media conglomerates to build that community, because they can't. Neighbors will do more to further the cause of liberty than any media buy.
As we approach the midterm elections and look forward to 2016, remember you as an individual can do more to change the world around you than any big campaign.