Recently I received a call from a Texas State Representative. He was asking for some help on a bill, and wanted to give me some advice on how he thought I could assist in getting it to a vote. During the course of the conversation, it came up how members of the Texas Legislature use a lot of untruths, both with constituents and other members of the legislature, to achieve their goals. It prompted me to look up the definition of politician on Google, just because it seemed pertinent at the moment.
I was surprised at the result, not because it is untrue, but because it was there plain as day. Google defined a politician as a person who acts in a manipulative and devious way, typically to gain advancement within an organization. Boom!
I asked this representative why he wouldn’t call out someone or expose their lies to the public, especially if it advanced the cause for conservative Christian values in the state of Texas. His reply is one we seemed to have heard a lot over the past few months as I have become more politically aware:
“You just don’t understand, Shelley. You will never get a bill passed. You will never get anything done. You will get assigned to the worst committees and nobody will work with you. If you don’t go with the flow, you will just take up space and not be an effective legislator. We all have to stick together. You can’t be an activist and a legislator at the same time. Pick one or the other.”
The irony of this conversation reminded me of a situation I found myself in while running for office. Three Texas House members had gone to a prominent North Dallas Church to seek an endorsement for my opponent. While meeting with the executive pastor, they claimed I was an atheist, refused to set foot in a church, and had no relationship with God.
This pastor, being a little shrewder than they expected, called and asked if I would come to a meeting the next day with my opponent so that he might discern if his church wanted to endorse in the race.
The next morning, I was in his office, and my opponent was nowhere to be found. We talked for over an hour during which time I talked about my faith, how I had led worship in a church, how I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and how God had been leading me through the pandemic. The pastor revealed the awful lies these men had said about me, and after prayerful consideration decided to endorse me in the race.
This angered one of the representatives who continued to bad mouth me until he did so to one of my campaign team. It was not long before I had this man on the phone and asked him point blank about the meeting. Of course, he tried to deny it happened, then when he realized he had been caught in the lie, tried to place blame on one of the other men. He even went so far as to accuse me of not seeking “permission” to run from other politicians at both the state and local levels.
He was not the only politician who felt this way. Many of them endorsed my opponent long before the election was announced, and long before I ever announced my candidacy. They did so, not because he was the best pick, but because they knew he would play along in the game that is going on in Austin, a game that would continue to allow them to gain political capital for themselves.
This is the game I have been exposed to this past year. One that is designed to keep them in office, keep their pockets full of cash from lobbyists, and keep you simply happy enough to keep going along with all of it. But if they are lying to us, lying to each other, and being dishonest and deceitful regardless of party, what can we do?
There are a few good men and women left in the swamp. We must send more that have courage to stand with them and are not afraid to not only tell the truth, but reveal what ails our government.
We need to support who is already there fighting the good fight, helping them bear the burden that is on their shoulders on a daily basis. When they need a reminder or some redirection, we need to help steer them back on course, and when the time comes, encourage them to pass the torch on to someone else ready to fight.
We need to make truth seeking at the local level honorable as well. School board, city council, mayor, commissioner’s court, and many other offices have long been deserted to be taken over by people that do not believe it is their job to serve citizens. These positions need to be refilled and supported with the same vigilance we are proposing in Austin.
Finally, we need to have our own courage to stand. We need to learn how to respectfully disagree with someone, and how to effectively persuade people to understand the truth. We cannot be afraid of being ostracized from the crowd. There are enough of us on the right side that we will find supportive friends and willing warriors, but we have to have enough faith to take that first step.
As a good friend of mine once said, “It is possible to make the wrong person do the right thing.” By putting enough good people in place and enough pressure on the those that are not as good, we can accomplish our goals. Only one question remains, do we have courage to stand?