Policy in the Margins or Why Grass-Roots Politics Works

What follows is a generalized breakdown of voting in any given election:

People Percent for Victory
100%, all people 50%, plus 1
70% eligible to vote (excludes aliens, felons, and minors) 35%, plus 1
40% registered to vote (approximately 60% of eligible) 20%, plus 1
20% vote on election day (50% of registered voters) 10%, plus 1
7% almost always vote Republican
7% almost always vote Democrat
6% swing votes 3%, plus1

Three percent of the populations plus one voter.  Here is where politicians live and die.

In some local and state elections where turnout may be only 20 percent of registered voters, the margin may be far less than three percent plus one.

The average politician lives in constant fear of alienating any substantial portion of this three percent plus one voter he needs in a hotly contested race to win re-election, or to gain higher office.

What is the best way not to alienate these voters?  Do nothing to make them mad, which almost always means ... do nothing.

This is why even when new politicians are elected, little seems to change.  Inertia — or the status quo — is the most potent force in politics.

However, by mobilizing and directing voters rallying around a specific issue, you can change the political environment for a politician or even a group of politicians.  One relatively small group can make it more costly for the politician not to act than it is for him or her to act as you want him to.

This is what I mean when I say that policy is made at the margins.  Over time, the number and effectiveness of activists determines political success or failure.

This is also why the homosexual lobby, labor unions, and organized groups so often get legislation they want.  They have groups of voters who can, and will, vote on their issue alone.  And they often have workers and sometimes money to use against any politician who crosses them.

By becoming a grass-roots leader, you can, too.

That’s where the fun, and the danger, begins.

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