Politics is a game.
In Lansing, getting legislation signed into law or stopping legislation is the objective.
In this game, there are three main winning strategies: 1. praise or criticize politicians; 2. campaign help - money and volunteer hours; 3. plenty of interactions with the politicians.
Special Interests, including government employee unions, know these strategies. They are quick to criticize or promote politicians or legislation and get their members to do the same. They give significant campaign money and can often provide a lot campaign volunteer hours. They get members and others to call, email and show up at district events and interact with the politicians.
Lobbyists know these strategies. They praise legislation backed by their clients. They don't criticize legislators, because doing so could come back to haunt them with their next client or effort...but they are quick to coordinate attacks or support for legislation opposed/supported by their clients. They get their clients to give big campaign money. Their job is to be in Lansing and continually interact with politicians and push or fight the legislation of interest to their clients.
Politicians know these strategies. They are quick to grab the microphone and praise each other and legislation. Criticizing is usually only left to politicians in the opposition party...and even then, it's tempered, because the legislation may change and be more palatable to them or they may someday work with the errant politician. They also know how to steer campaign support. They have plenty of face-time with other legislators.
So Special Interests, Lobbyists and Politicians all know how the game is played - whether its pushing the latest corporate welfare scheme, another centralized education plan, more funding for their interests, some attack on personal liberty or maybe the good guys are trying to roll back frivolous special-interest spending, these gamers are fully engaged.
However, average citizens are not very engaged. Don't have much time to be engaged. Don't have a lobbyist. Hope they voted for someone who is watching out for their interests...and don't really understand how the game is played.
With this blog I hope to help conservatives and liberty-minded folks in Michigan understand how this game is played, how to make the game in Lansing less slanted toward the gamers, keep you informed how the game is going and when the important moments are about to happen, and how to best impact the outcome. With this blog I hope to help our side win.
This means, I'll point out the actions of legislators that I think are worthy of praise or criticism. I'll keep an eye out for possible connections to campaign contributions and the actions of politicians. I'll encourage you to act - via email, snail mail or phone or at events where legislators will be present to try to influence the course of legislation. This blog may even help you decide which politicians are worthy of your campaign contributions and volunteer efforts and which are not.
And this first post in no way lays out the entire game. Getting legislators to introduce good legislation, getting co-sponsors, the amendment process, how committees and committee chairs can bottle up bills, the issues of getting bills through two chambers, dealing with the governor's and departments' liaisons...and much more will be the subject of future posts.
Finally, the gamers have worked the "us" vs. "them" angle a long time. Republicans vs. Democrats; Conservatives vs. Liberals, etc. They've convinced average citizens and activists - wherever they are on the political spectrum, that collaboration with "them" is really bad. It's often not. Sometimes, it's the best way to beat the gamers. There are many who conservatives view as "them", but like us they oppose centralized education, corporate welfare, higher gas taxes and increasing government surveillance. And they support personal freedom, increased real transparency, metrics and value for money budgeting...and sometimes even limited government and free markets. Blogging here, I will also strive to help bring collaboration with others who are oftentimes viewed as opposing players - in order to beat the gamers.
So...let the games begin!