Political paternalism versus personal responsibility

Let’s state what should be obvious: as Republicans we support the notion of personal responsibility and individual initiative.

It’s the Democrats who think Americans can’t handle life and thus need someone else’s direction and government’s assistance at every turn. Republicans are the ones who defend freedom and believe it is best when people are responsible for their own health insurance, their own retirement, and have real power over things like the education of their own children.

Likewise, the Republican approach includes a preference for people taking responsibility over their own government and political party. Platform Republicans believe that’s what works best – individuals taking the initiative.

Are your representatives in the Illinois General Assembly or in Congress not getting the job done? Is your local Republican organization underwhelming you in their activity and effectiveness?

Do something about it. Don’t want to go it alone? Get your friends together and do something. Don’t know what to do? Learn.

If you’re going to wait for those on the field to do the right thing, you’ll wait in vain. New talent and energy is needed. And part of that energy must be directed at demanding better from those who occupy positions of power.

Learning is what’s needed. Learning to tie your shoes and get through school and keep a job and buy a car and a house are good enough preparation for learning democratic participation. More people learning and getting involved is the only way we’ll ever see reform.

The people on the field right now in politics know how to keep information from you – like how easy it is to get on the ballot. But they’re not geniuses, please take our word for it. If they were, they’d be performing their job better.

The following list of avenues for participation isn’t original. In fact, the list should be added to and improved upon by new people coming onto the field.

Run for Precinct Committeeman. Run for any other office – or help others who are running for the right reasons. Get involved with your local Republican organization. Write letters to elected officials. Make phone calls to elected officials and reporters. Write letters to the editor and op-eds.

Help organize citizen lobbying of General Assembly members on specific issues. Organize email or letter writing or phone call campaigns. Better yet, gather like minded people with you and schedule regular meetings with your elected officials.

Attend public meetings and circulate your take on the proceedings. Testify at public meetings. Conduct background research to share with others.

Post comments, research, and links on Web sites or blogs. Host events and attend events with experts on the issues. Join or start a new civic club. Join or start a study group. Call talk radio shows.

Network with friends and allies. Volunteer time with a like-minded organization. Adopt one of the 6,000 taxing units of government in Illinois and become a watchdog. Disseminate your findings.

Help raise money for a like-minded organization and/or make a financial contribution of your own. Become an expert on an issue and a credible source for the media.

Since the media is clearly a part of the problem, we need many more people helping to publicize critical information. The blog world only provides a part of the solution. Create your own newsletter. Create your own website to help get information out. Regularly forward important information to your own private e-mail forward list.

As we’ve stated, the Illinois Republican Party needs new blood. We’re not going to see reforms – we’re not going to get back on track as a state – without it.