A friend asked about the effectiveness of political rallies and why we should spend our time going to them. This was specifically addressing a rally in Austin, TX on Feb. 25, 2017 for the total abolition of abortion. The following was my answer. It was later published by Abolish Abortion Texas. The principles apply to other issues as well.
For those that are not politically involved, the question of why going through the trouble of loading up your family, sometime very large families, and driving several hundred miles to attend a political rally is a legitimate one. There are several reasons why a rally can be an effective tool to positively influence your culture. This, of course, assumes a) the rally is properly run and b) the cause you believe in is, in fact, positive. While the list could be much longer here are a few reasons why it worth the effort, if those two criteria are met.
First, a rally is a visible sign of the support for any issue or bill. Any issue can be widely supported, but if there are no visible signs of that support it becomes much easier to deny that such support exists. The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” comes to mind. Phone calls are great, but an image leaves an impression. This truth is applied both in the positive and negative. If we claim there is wide support for an issue, and a large crowd shows up for a rally it confirms the claim. It also confirms credibility to the one making the claim. If on the other hand, we claim the support is wide, but only a few dozen people can be bothered with showing their support, the image of a few lone rangers will also be a lasting one. It then becomes much harder to be believed when making such a claim in the future. This brings us to my next reason and general rule for understanding politicians.
Modern politicians are much better at counting than reading. The details of a bill matter far less than the voting public’s support for it. If there is one thing politicians love, it is staying a politician. This means the greatest fear for most of them is a group of angry, in-district voters. Nothing communicates an angry group like images of an angry mob demanding action. The thoughts of this angry mob coming from their district is enough to keep them up at night. An important point to remember is that we need be angry and not sin (Eph 4:26). Our anger should be directed to the evil that is being allowed.
Another principle of winning at politics is controlling the public conversation. A successful rally should draw media attention. What they say about us is less relevant than that they mention us. An insignificant rally will be easy to ignore. A large, diverse group all coming together for the sake of a cause is a story. A successful rally doesn’t guarantee media coverage, but an unsuccessful one guarantees the media won’t cover it. If people aren’t talking about our issue, we aren’t winning.