In the State of Alaska, “We the people” hold all political power, as declared in Article I, paragraph 2, of our Constitution – in the context of a 25-paragraph Declaration of our Rights. The governing system to protect and enforce these rights, and make complying laws, is created in subsequent Articles instituting the three branches of government under over-arching basic rules and principles. “We the people” have the political authority over the legislative branch to make complying, specific rules (Alaska Statutes).
Our inherent, pre-existing “political power” is the “engine” of this governing system. It is not power granted by our Constitution, therefore it cannot be taken away by governing authority – but it CAN be squandered.
The Legislature was designed to be an accurate representation of the will of “We the People”. This committee of 60 Alaskans (Legislature) either applies our political power as we please, or, we use our ultimate political power and replace them. When it works, it is a genius system because both the system and the individual are motivated to prevent itself and others from oppression. The point is if you feel strongly about any given issue or politician, you really do have the power to make changes and you need to understand the system to use this power.
Given the time of year, let’s consider game management. Do you have strong opinions on this topic? I am moose hunting as I write this and feeling deeply grateful for my access to Alaska’s profound beauty and this hunting opportunity. It is a solo hunt, so the experience is minus my normal delightful interaction with family and friends. Solitude increases awareness of high alpine valleys, glaciers, canyons, rivers, mountains, stunning fall oranges, reds, and lots of game… moose, goats, sheep, bear… all plentiful. To bring it back to my push for your “political” action, consider the part played by government and politics to ensure my enjoyment of this incredible opportunity. Our Constitution laid out the basics: 8.2 The legislature shall provide for the utilization, development, and conservation of all natural resources belonging to the State, including land and waters, for the maximum benefit of its people…8.4 Fish, forests, wildlife, grasslands, and all other replenish-able resources belonging to the State shall be utilized, developed, and maintained on the sustained yield principle, subject to preferences among beneficial uses. … wise parameters!
Now, consider the political efforts required to establish subsequent statutes and administrative regulations to comply with the Constitutional directives… down to requiring me to estimate, in inches, the rack size of a monster moose in the brush before I dare shoot. Consider the history of people, institutions, boards, organizations, and administrators who politically influenced that process! The history includes, legislation, budget battles to pay for game management, litigation, and lots of raw (sometimes offensive) political lobbying and advocacy from competing, diverse perspectives. To date, it has translated into the sustainable Alaskan treasure I am luxuriating in. For several days, I have been monitoring a particular moose with an estimated 60” rack; but, haven’t had a clear view of brow tines to confirm legality. Bullwinkle has generated lots of delightful adrenaline and painful hikes, but is actually a pretty safe moose. Being solo, I need him to wander a lot closer to transportation options and I doubt I can influence him to do that. My point is: many Alaskans have invested a lot of political action to preserve this awesome experience, which simply could not survive unmanaged.
A related point, I am a proud member of the Alaska Outdoor Council (AOC) and would recommend your involvement if want some fun and rewarding political commitment. AOC lobbies to protect hunting privileges for Alaska Sportsmen and women. It is honorable to work to preserve the Constitutional intent of our natural resources. There are countless other special interest groups with varying agendas, but I am particularly impressed with the effectiveness and integrity of the leadership and the volunteers of AOC. If you want a list of proven special interest groups, talk to any legislative aide.
Another possibility to use your political power is political party engagement. Both Republicans and Democrats declare their values online. Many individuals choose to not identify as partisan, but it is far more difficult to identify allies and foes as an independent. It is easier to refer to a platform when explaining your values and priorities, even if you feel you must qualify your alignment on any given platform plank. It is difficult to maintain a consistent values identity especially if it is a leadership group, unless a political action group is single issue.
A third possibility is to go “all-in” and occupationally engage in government politics as an attorney, public employee, politician, … By definition, because you get paid, it is a challenge to objectively separate noble versus self-service. It is truly wonderful when career goals align with governing objectives.
There are many honorable and rewarding ways to use your political power to maintain a healthy, constitutional government.
This was also submitted as an article to The People’s Paper.