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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.
In the wake of the recent Supreme Court rulings, I have noticed a lot of buzz about the government leaders in Texas, Governor Abbot and Attorney General Paxton. I have heard of their courage for standing up in defiance of our overlords in Washington. As one who has been paying attention to what happens in Austin, I do not believe this is the case, at least not yet. Their language has changed a little (not nearly enough), but their policy has not. The courage to defend the people of Texas against the wicked tyrant known as the Supreme Court apparently didn’t get the memo that now is the time. Paxton’s own words right after the Court’s ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges, the same sex “marriage” case, betray the rumors about Texas. In his opinion (found here) he wrote,
“The United States Supreme Court again ignored the text and spirit of the Constitution to manufacture a right that simply does not exist. In so doing, the Court weakened itself and weakened the rule of law..” and
“Pursuant to the Court’s flawed ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas issued an injunction against the enforcement of Texas marriage laws that define marriage as one man and one woman and therefore those laws currently are enjoined from being enforced by county clerks and justices of the peace. There is not, however, a court order in place in Texas to issue any particular license whatsoever – only the flawed direction by the U.S. Supreme Court on Constitutionality and applicable state laws.”
It is clear the Attorney General believes the Court has stepped outside of the confines of the law in this case. That should be enough for him to defy their ruling. He doesn’t though. The best he can do is to recommend those that may be forced to issue licenses or perform weddings to refuse on the basis of personal religious conviction. That and get a good lawyer.
“It is important to note that any clerk who wishes to defend their religious objections and who chooses not to issue licenses may well face litigation and/or a fine. But, numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious belief.”
The proper action would have been for him to employ interposition as defined in the “lesser magistrate doctrine.” For those unfamiliar with this doctrine I recommend Matt Trewhella’s article. He explains,
“The lesser magistrate doctrine states that when a higher-ranking civil authority makes unjust or immoral laws, policies, or court opinions, the lower or lesser-ranking civil authority has the God-given right and duty not to obey the higher authority. If necessary, the lower authority may even actively resist the superior authority.
The interposition of the lower magistrates is not subjective or lawless. There are only three reasons for open defiance to the higher civil authority. First, they are to oppose and resist any laws or edicts from the higher authority that contravene — violate, oppose, or contradict — the law or Word of God. Second, they are to protect the person and property of those who reside within their jurisdiction from any unjust or immoral laws or actions by the higher authority. Third, they are not to implement any laws or decrees made by the higher authority that violate the U.S. Constitution or their state constitution–and if necessary, resist them.”
The recent ruling of the Supreme Court in this particular case violate every one of these principles. The lower magistrates in Texas know it. They are not prepared or willing to do what they ought. As Matt plainly stated they should “refuse to implement any federal court opinion that tramples the state’s constitution and imposes homosexual marriage upon the people. Unfortunately, all of the governors who have had their state’s constitutions trampled have hidden behind the common lie of the lower authorities, namely: ‘A federal court has ruled; we must obey.”
So where does this all leave us? We live in a unique time in our country. Many of the issues that the progressives and “conservative” statists have been cooperatively working on for decades are finally coming to fruition. This has culminated into an obnoxious amount of influence that a handful of people hold over the rest of this nation. All of this leads us to ask, how long will the people take it? When will the people rise up? And, what exactly can they do about it? To be able to accurately identify when the people have reached their maximum level of allowable tyranny, we need to understand the first thing they do when they are upset. We need to look for a marker. They will first turn to the politicians they elected. Some will call, some will write, and the serious ones make their way to the offices of their magistrates. They demand to be heard and expect their rulers to change things. We can know that enough people are starting to do this, when the language of the politicians change. If he thinks enough people are upset enough to change politicians, his actions will match his new found language. He will rise up with the people.
When the government leaders in Texas become lesser magistrates standing up to National Government, then we will know they mean business. When they defiantly stand up to the rulings of the SCOTUS and nullifying laws that contradict the Texas Constitution, then all the buzz will be newsworthy. When they start interposing on behalf of their lower magistrates and citizens, then we can know the people and their officials have had enough. Until then it is all sound bites, press releases, and meaningless bills intended to quiet the noise. In other words, business as usual.