One of the more obnoxious habits of professional politicians is calling organizations of citizen-activists “outside groups.” Outside of what? Outside the Beltway? Outside the inner circle of ruling elites? Elected officials on both sides of the aisle who use this term think they are discrediting grassroots critics, when in fact they are exposing a toxic view of their power and their constituents.
Under our Constitution, there is no “inside” and “outside” of the political process. There is just “we the people,” the institutions we create, and the policymakers we elect. It’s our republic, our democracy, our government. If anyone in America’s vast constitutional system qualifies as an “outside group,” it’s the tiny handful who think the country should serve them instead of the other way around. Indeed, the whole point of grassroots activism is to hold powerful public servants accountable to the public they serve.
That is why Americans for Prosperity, and its state affiliate AFP-Mississippi, were created. We believe freedom and opportunity are the keys to unlocking prosperity for all Americans, so our nationwide community of citizens advocates public policies to expand them. AFP is non-partisan. We’re not about Republicans or Democrats — we’re just about freedom and opportunity. Moreover, we support these principles in policy debate. AFP is not a special interest group focusing on one issue like gun rights or one profession like teachers. We’re a general interest group. We want all Americans to enjoy the blessings of liberty, opportunity, and prosperity — even people who disagree with us!
That’s the problem so many politicians, government agencies, and in the media today. Too many elites think it’s their job to define the American Dream for us. But the whole point of the American Dream is that each individual American gets to define it for himself or herself. Some find it in their work and career. Others in their family or church or community. What AFP works for — here in Mississippi, in Washington, and around the country — are public policies that bring each American’s dreams closer to reality.
My own American Dream, for instance, is to make Mississippi — where my family has lived for five generations — the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family. That’s why I joined AFP-Mississippi, and why I’m so excited about the work we are doing – work that Mississippi needs.
Today, our state is the poorest, per capita, in the nation. We’re near the bottom in health. Thousands of young, motivated, educated, and entrepreneurial Mississippians – the ones our state will need to turn things around – pull up stakes and leave our state every year. This, in turn, leads too many Mississippians to believe that declining opportunity here is inevitable and our economy is zero-sum. Politicians divide us and fight each other over the crumbs from what they see as the state’s ever-shrinking pie, rather than coming together to bake more pie!
One thing all true Mississippians know: you can never have too much pie.
Prosperity is not a mystery, and the policies AFP-Mississippi advocates will fuel it, if given the chance. We support foundational education reforms like education savings accounts, to help all students — no matter their parents’ income or ZIP code — find the best school and path toward greater opportunities.
We support health care reforms, like the Personal Option, that give patients the power now lorded over us by government bureaucrats and corporate middlemen. We support “Certificate of Need” reforms to allow health care spending and professionals to follow patients’ needs instead of politicians’ or bureaucrats’ whims. We support economic reforms — lower taxes, less regulatory red tape, more entrepreneurial freedom — that create jobs, raise wages, and spur investment and growth.
In short, we need to remove the barriers limiting our state’s potential.
So, AFP-Mississippi is not an “outside” group at all. We represent Mississippians who have the potential “inside” them to do great things and simply need the freedom and opportunity to fulfill that potential without hindrance by the government.