February 17, 2012

How to Get a Pro-liberty Message in the New York Times

By: Richard Lorenc

Yesterday, the New York Times published a letter I wrote in response to a very silly news article on regard for the U.S. Constitution internationally. Apparently, fewer countries are using our constitution as a model for theirs. Not that it matters much. You can have a great, liberty-protecting constitution and a government that ignores it completely.

Here’s a snippet of what I wrote:

A good constitution enshrines general principles rather than specific rights. It acts as a lens through which people of different opinions and status can live together peaceably regardless of changing norms and circumstances.

If you want a constitution that is lengthy and new, look no further than the Constitution of India, which was adopted in 1950. It takes 395 articles to explain all the ways in which India’s government will advance a just, equal, free, friendly, secular, socialist government.

It would have been more precise had I replaced that last “government” with “state,” but the point stands.

Getting these 150 or so words in that bastion of statism that is the Old Gray Lady wasn’t easy. I’ve had a few letters in the Wall Street Journal and a couple of the Chicago Tribune, but, before now, never one in the Times.

The secret is writing. A lot.

I model my letter-writing after Don Boudreaux at George Mason. He writes letters to the editor like no one’s business, posting all of them on his blog Cafe Hayek. What may surprise you about someone of Professor Boudreaux’s knowledge and status is that newspapers publish relatively few of his letters. But he continues writing and submitting them.

I don’t write as well or as much as Boudreaux, but I write every day. I write on blogs (check out Chicago Libertarian), Facebook, and Word. Sometimes I submit something I’ve written to a newspaper or a magazine, but most of the time I write for myself or people I know.

I practice writing every day. Sometimes I write something good. Regardless of whether someone publishes my writing or anyone likes it on Facebook, every time I write is an opportunity to get better.

Only about 10 percent of the letters I send to newspapers get published. Ten out of 100. That’s a lot of writing, but you really need to work at it if you want to make your voice heard.

Yesterday I got a pro-liberty message published in the New York Times. And you can, too.