Instant coffee.

Instant refund.

Instant messages.

We want instant gratification.

But if you bring that mentality with you into the world of politics, you will quickly find yourself frustrated.

Political change comes slowly, often measured in years.Take the effort to get medical marijuana legalized in the state of Illinois. When Gov. Pat Quinn signed HB1 on Aug. 1, 2013, it culminated a 10-year effort to approve cannabis for medicinal use in the state.

Not a thing instant about that.

Imagine the frustration of activists who pushed and pushed and pushed to get medical marijuana legalized in the Prairie State – for an entire decade. Ten years represents an awful lot frustration, disappointment and discouragement.

Consider this: progressives began fighting in earnest to change the American political landscape in the early 1900s. They kept at it. And at it. And at it. Year after year. Decade after decade. They won a few big victories, but mostly they took what they could get. A little win here. A small victory there. Then they consolidated their position and battled for the next little piece of turf. They built single-issue coalitions, embraced incremental victories and spun positive messages out of apparent defeat.

And here we are today.

Most Americans don’t have it in them to fight that long in this day and age. They want the victory now – total and complete. No partial steps. No small measures. Win now! Win big! Or go home!

Sadly, when faced with adversity in their political endeavors, too many people do just that.They become disillusioned, disappointed and ultimately despondent. Then they go home and share their negativity on Facebook.

Liberty will never win until we learn to play the long game.

A scene in the movie Hitch features the main character talking with his best friend Ben as they play pool. Hitch is eying some hot woman at the bar. Ben finally speaks his mind.

You know what your problem is, Hitch? You’re all about the short game. You pick your shots based on what you see first, not what’s necessarily best for you in the long run.

That described a lot of liberty activists. They push for the strongest bill, right now with no compromise. When you suggest a partial measure to move the ball forward, they assail you as unprincipled. Then, the bill fails and they give up in frustration. Or illustrate the definition of insanity attributed to Einstein and try the same tactic next year.

We need to learn to play the long game.

When I first started working for the Tenth Amendment Center almost four years ago, our big victories consisted of approved Tenth Amendment Resolutions. There were very few nullification bills, just a handful dealing with medical marijuana and Real ID. This legislative session, we’ve tracked close to 100 bonafide nullification bills on issues ranging from NSA spying to the Second Amendment. And when I first started working with TAC, our press releases were ignored. Then the media shifted to ridiculing and marginalizing us. Today, reporters from big media outlets call us for comment and take us seriously.

But all of this didn’t happen in a day or a week. It happened over several years with a lot of work, a lot of persistence and a lot of perseverance.

Last summer, we began working with the Bill of Rights Defense Committee to create a campaign to battle the NSA at the state and local level. The OffNow campaign went public in November. Since then, we’ve seen the introduction of the Fourth Amendment Protection Act in 10 states, including Maryland, the NSA’s back yard. A number of other states have bills pending that would make unconstitutionally gathered data collected by the feds, and shared with state and local law enforcement inadmissible in court. Each of these bills moved the ball forward. Even if none of them pass, we’ve taken steps forward.

Consider the Fourth Amendment Protection Act introduced in Utah. It got a committee hearing and was referred to an interim study committee. That means it remains alive for next year’s session, and in the meantime, lawmakers will hold at least one public hearing on the matter. No, the bill didn’t pass. But the issue remains alive and will receive further debate. In the meantime, we continue to build a transpartisan grassroots coalition in the state. This was a small, but important victory.

But I guarantee you that people will slither out of the woodwork and say, “You failed!”. They will swear up and down we will never stop the NSA at the state level, and they will claim the “failure” in Utah proves them right. They will ignore all of the first downs we’ve made over the last six months, and yell and tear down the effort because the ball didn’t make it to the end zone…yet.

The bottom line: we didn’t create this campaign as a six month deal. We look at it as a multi-year, long-term effort. We won’t win the war against unwarranted spying in a day. Or a week. Or even a year.

We have to play the long game

That’s the path to victory.

Enjoy your instant coffee.

Chat it up with instant message.

Rush out and spend that instant refund.

But don’t expect the instant political victory.

Remember that the next time somebody points out that this or that bill wasn’t passed, or this piece of legislation was watered down, or this bill that passed doesn’t do enough, Remind them of the battle for medical marijuana in Illinois – ten years.

Long game.

Mike Maharrey

The 10th Amendment

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