Last week I did an interview with a newspaper reporter in Alabama about an Alabama bill that would exempt the purchase of gold and silver bullion from state sales and use tax, encouraging its use and taking the first step toward breaking the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on money.
The article turned out OK. He did get some of our talking points about monetary competition into the story. So, that’s a win. But he also interjected the typical mainstream talking points about nullification – namely that it has never really worked. (My response to this nonsense is HERE.)
That’s what’s frustrating about talking to the media. Most reporters don’t have any frame of reference to understand what you are talking about. Imagine trying to explain algebra to somebody who doesn’t comprehend addition and subtraction.That’s what it’s like trying to explain a nullification bill to somebody who thinks nullification started when John C. Calhoun wanted to protect slavery.
It’s virtually impossible to explain nullification history to a reporter in a short interview. In the first place, there’s a lot to cover. Second, the reporter doesn’t want to hear it. She or he just wants some quotes about the bill they’re reporting on – hopefully, something that makes nullification look crazy.
In the old days, I actually tried to explain the real history of nullification. Now I take a different tact. I try to shock them out of their preconceived ideas. This usually involves bringing up weed. After all, nullification of federal marijuana prohibition is the most successful modern example of how state and local action can stop federal actions. And most reporters are sympathetic to cannabis legalization. So, framing the debate in those terms forces them to look at it more favorably. If nothing else, it shakes their preconceived notions. They think they are going to talk to a far-right racist – not somebody who favors marijuana legalization.
The good news is that we get a lot more favorable treatment in the mainstream media than we did a few years ago. I think it’s partly a function of being better at talking to them. And I think it’s also partly just the fact that pushing back against the federal government through non-cooperation is becoming much less controversial.
Look for more coverage featuring the TAC in the upcoming year. I plan to be a bit more aggressive in reaching out to the media during this next legislative session. Getting out the message into the conversation is a great way to grow and legitimize the movement.
Michael Maharrey [send him email] is the Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center. He proudly resides in the original home of the Principles of ’98 – Kentucky. See his blog archive here and his article archive here. He is the author of the book, Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty. You can visit his personal website at MichaelMaharrey.com and like him on Facebook HERE