In a small attempt to connect political theory to actual power, last week I sent messages to some GOP members of the U.S. Senate telling them about my new book, Politics on a Human Scale. (It might sound self-promoting but I like to think of it as being public-spirited.) All of the senators use email forms on their websites so we can communicate with their staffs. The first step for the user is to identify the broad topic of our question or comment.
What struck me is that my message did not fit into any of the categories listed on any of the websites. I did not expect to find “human scale politics” or “decentralization” listed, but I thought I might find “big government,” “federal power,” “federalism,” “states’ rights,” or “Constitution.” None of those were options. The closest I found was a single website that listed “constitutional rights,” but these are presumably individual rights rather than federal-state relations or federal power in general. The Second Amendment (gun rights) showed up repeatedly; the Tenth Amendment (decentralized power) not at all.
These senators are conservative, Tea Party politicians. They are the members of government most likely to be sincerely interested in our viewpoint and supportive of power devolution. Yet the subject is not even on the radar, if their feedback forms are an indication. Those of us who believe in widely dispersed power—political and economic—have some work to do to move the topic from the political fringe to the public agenda.