Yesterday (January 10, 2009) Americans For Prosperity held a Defending the American Dream Summit in Wichita. After the event I spoke to Alan Cobb, who just stepped down as AFP’s Kansas state director to become AFP’s national director of state operations.
I asked Cobb how many people attend this event. “We had over 300. It’s the largest event we’ve had.” He added that everyone seemed to love the event.
I mentioned to Cobb about how the national press portrays the current financial crisis as a failure of capitalism and free markets. In fact, Jonah Goldberg, one of the speakers, said he feels a little weird be at a free market forum with what’s going in in Washington now. Was it a failure of free markets that caused the current crisis?
“No, of course not. It seems ironic when they talk about the banking industry failing, as it is one of the most regulated industries of all. It was government policies that partly caused at least part of the problem with sub-prime mortgages. It’s a constant theme, and it leads to the New New Deal, which was discussed several times today.”
I mentioned how lawmakers tell us that they’re often surprised at how little personal communication they receive from citizens in their districts. (They get a lot of communication from lobbyists and interested parties outside their districts.) What does this mean about the impact the average person can have on the legislative process?
“It means they obviously can have a tremendous impact, when sometimes five or six phone calls is an avalanche.” He went on to remark that people enjoy coming to grassroots meetings like the one today, but they wonder what they can really do, as they believe that politicians never listen to them. But there are many examples, he said, of where the voices of citizen activists have made a difference.
I asked what are some of the most important local-level grassroots activists can do to advance the cause of liberty and free markets?
“Two primary things: One is to recruit. Get other people involved, whether it’s in AFP or another free market group. The second is to stay engaged and don’t give up.”