Help Us Get a ‘Foothold’
With municipal elections behind us we are challenged to name one Indiana city council with a majority of members committed to smaller government.
We can’t. Indeed, we can’t remember one — ever. It is attestation that we’re losing the battle and the war. It’s time to change the strategy
For starters, we have to stop . . . doing what we’re doing, that is.
A common excuse of the local party chairmen is their difficulty finding candidates with a truly constrained vision of how government should relate to a citizenry.
That shouldn’t be a surprise. We’re not trying to win and retain office at all cost, selling influence along the way. Rather, we want to further the principles of limited government. Many are willing to sign up for the former, only a few for the latter.
And those who merely like the sound of “councilmen” in front of their name haven’t been much help — in winning office or governing wisely. Nor have our congressmen, legislators, prosecutors, governors or even county chairmen proven to be reliable allies in this struggle, many of them captured early by the lure of a political career.
Most grievous, corporate ownership has displaced the hometown proprietary media that once questioned the untenable, that spoke truth to power for both Republicans and Democrats.
There is a way through this. Historians note that societies, right down to the local community, progress not because a compromise-fed, self-satisfied majority overcomes the inevitable challenges. Rather, it is a small group that finds solutions to those challenges, that inspires (rather than compels) others to make innovative changes.
Arnold Toynbee called them “creative minorities,” using the enterprising, resourceful sense of the word. He argued that communities fail when this minority is displaced by a “dominant minority,” i.e., a ruling elite trying to command success by mimicking a previous generation of leadership.
In Indiana, we begin with a realization that if our cause (limited, accountable, city government) is different, so should be our approach. The Foothold Project first of all identifies stalwart councilman around the state already standing up for property rights, small government and rule of law. Secondly, through on-site workshops we provide them a network of resources to introduce legislation forcing their council majorities to explain (expose) their positions.
When that happens, when even outvoted councilmen ask sharply pointed, well-researched questions, the political trajectory of a city is changed. Grandiose claims are debunked. Romantic dreams are linked to their ruinous results. The media is shamed into doing its job. Self-serving positions, both political and economical, are laid bare. We have seen it work. An economist friend calls it the “voice over vote” method.
Finally, cost should be part of any successful strategy, and Foothold can operate statewide and yearlong for less than one-quarter of what was spent this year on just one district council race. The low cost is not even comparable to supporting wave after wave, generation after generation, of political friends-in-name-only who just show up for fundraising dinners.
Other project specifications:
- There must be at least two small-government councilmen working in concert to avoid marginalization.
- We do not obsess with vote counts. Instead, we urge the introduction of legislation, immediately viable or not, whose common sense can be demonstrated to the broadest range of the citizenry.
- This legislation must conform to the state and federal constitutions (much of it, to our shame, does not).
- This legislation must not involve an unethical use of government force.
- This legislation must actually work; that is, the intent is irrelevant if it doesn’t accomplish what it says it will accomplish.
The foundation’s adjunct scholars can help officeholders with all of this — the research, the investigation, the public relations, the alternative media and a hard-won list of do’s and don’ts. Help us apply that knowledge in those cities where it will have the most immediate impact.
Please call us to answer your questions and discuss workshop details: 260/417-4094.