On Monday, April 9th, Mississippi’s beer laws took a major step forward, and as of July 1, Mississippian’s will legally be able to buy beer as high as 10% ABV, as opposed to the 6% that was previously allowed. This opens up the choice that will be possible greatly, and will include a larger percentage of the world’s highest rated beers.
Much thanks is due to the Raise Your Pints executive team. I know several of them and have seen the hard work, dedication, and hours upon hours of volunteer work they have put into this cause that has improved our beer selection and will ultimately benefit Mississippi’s economy as well.
The success is ultimately a tribute to the idea that we as citizens do still have some element of control over our own destinies as a state or country. In an age where many are disillusioned by politics, the passage of this law does say at some level that we can still impact our laws when we make the effort to. Marshall Ramsey, on Twitter wrote:
@RaiseYourPints grassroots efforts and use of social media to promote their cause will be studied for sometime to come.
And yet, despite all this rightly due celebration, the one thing I’ve truly learned is how different the process is to get a law changed than I really thought it was. My vision for a democratic republic consisted of making sure the right people get elected and of massive writing or signature campaigns.
While the grass-roots efforts of Raise Your Pints were what ultimately led to its success, it was not anything like the way I naïvely would have imagined. There was, in fact, very little that we as individuals can DO. From the Raise Your Pints website:
Here’s what you can do right now to help Mississippi eliminate unfair beer laws:
- Sign up as a member of Raise Your Pints. – This is the best thing you can do.
- Download our Talking Points and familiarize yourself with the facts.
- Inform your local media about this issue and RYP. We’re happy to provide quotes, stats, and are available for interviews.
- Wear a RYP shirt when you go to beer stores or other craft beer related venues and be ready to answer questions.
- Order a few RYP Stickers. Display them prominently.
- Talk to any local or state-wide elected officials you know about Raise Your Pints and ask for their support.
- Invite RYP President Butch to speak to your local or regional organizations or civic clubs.
- Join us on Facebook and Twitter and spread the word.
- Get ready to contact your state legislators. You, our supporters, are a loud and resounding voice when the message (and recipient) are well-targeted.
Most these actions are spreading the word and, ultimately doing things that generate money. And what I learned is that money is really what it took to get the political process moving.
In order to advance its cause, Raise Your Pints had to pay handsomely for a lobbyist.
I knew lobbyists existed, but I always thought they were really only for large, evil corporations. I never thought a grassroots state-level campaign would be in need of such services; however, that is ultimately what it took to make this campaign as successful as it was. I never would have fully understood that on my own, and although I shouldn’t be surprised, it does still shock me exactly how one has to go about affecting law in our country. For me, that means all the more thanks to Raise Your Pints for having the vision of knowing what needs to be done and being able to accomplish it.
I am curious, though: how do you feel about the political path that had to be taken to make this change? Does it make sense that lobbyists are necessary? Is there a way our system could work better?