This post is adapted from an excellent conversation with a dear friend, via Facebook. He originally asked about term limits, which are extremely low on my list of priorities. In response, he asked for my top four.
#1 is self-improvement.
Learn, learn, learn, learn, learn. Then, learn some more. The curricula taught in schools, both public and private, is practically worthless. It’s worse than knowing nothing about history–it’s wrong history. Worse than no economics–it’s wrong economics. Without going into much detail on these particulars, let me just say that a person who spends 10 minutes a day studying a the works of a figure like Murray Rothbard can run intellectual laps around a clown with a PhD in economics like Paul Krugman. You can and will become a force to be reckoned with and respected, simply by making the decision to invest your time in self-study of these topics.
To quote the great H.L. Mencken: “The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.”
#2 is State nullification of federal laws.
There is an extremely strong historical, logical, moral, and even constitutional case to be made for this approach. I can give you a broad overview if it interests you, but the best reference on the subject is Tom Woods’ book, simply titled “Nullification.” This is notably different from the other three items on the list, in that it requires large-scale organization to make it happen. However, I think the evidence is clear that begging politicians to “repeal Obamacare” or “streamline the tax code” never manifest themselves in ways that are beneficial from the perspective of States’ rights. Working at the State level requires far less manpower and money than trying to influence things like the presidential election, and yet people always seem to shoot for the least attainable goals. This is my answer to that.
#3 is to ridicule and ignore the ruling elite.
It’s a great thing to be critical, but even better is to make a laughing stock out of them. Make the political class the butt end of every joke. Craft and share hilarious tales of government ineptitude. Then, when they demand your respect, ignore them. Sit down during the pledge of allegiance. Stay home on election day. Gather up all of the pomp and the circumstance and kick it back in their faces. Consent is the one thing that keeps them in power. For great reading on this, try “The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude,” written in 1553 by Etienne de la Boétie. It’s free on mises.org.
#4 is to share your intellectual journey with others.
Make videos, start a website, write articles, speak at small events. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Force yourself to go toe-to-toe with their ridiculous arguments. It will strengthen you to press onward. This step also has the great benefit of building your social circles. I can’t even begin to tell you how many friend requests I’ve gotten just from taking these things head-on.
So, there’s a top 4. The list somewhat presumes that you are a radical, but take it for what it’s worth. If you are curious as to why this list is not more like a set of policy prescriptions, my answer is simple. There is an endless sea of well-researched papers published by massive think tanks like the Heritage Foundation. Does anyone care? No. I’m not an extensively credentialed D.C. satellite group like that, so my opinion is correspondingly even less appreciated by those who write legislation. Besides, my entire position is that no one should be writing legislation at all. This all goes back to point #3 on the list. Rulers can only rule with consent. If you withdraw your consent, you’ve already done more than the vast majority of people who devote their lives to politics.
One more quote: “The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.” – Frédéric Bastiat
When we realize how genuinely insane that prospect is, we start to see the state for what it is: organized crime.