In 1773 Benjamin Franklin wrote Rules By Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One. It is a satirical piece in which Franklin took the actions of England and applied them like a Babylon Bee-esque DIY in order to mock their political stupidity. Do what you are already doing, Franklin said, and you will be sure to shrink the British Empire. It is worth a read. It is a timeless classic with plenty of application to the present political scene. Especially in Texas.
Rep. Jeff Leach’s actions since April 8 on Texas House Bill 896 illustrate Franklin’s point. Certainly Leach will face political repercussions in spite of the best efforts of his pastor, Jack Graham, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention leadership and some political allies. These paltry efforts are a sure sign that Rep. Leach is in trouble and that he knows it.
He claims to be a pro-life Republican whose record on the issue is “well known.” In an inexplicable move, Leach allowed HB 896 to have a committee meeting even though he promised beforehand that he would not allow the bill to move to the floor. Inexplicable because the support for the bill is record setting for this legislative session. More than 340 people testified in SUPPORT of the bill while only four or five testified against it. The meeting did not finish until after 3:00AM on April 9th. Bear in mind that this is a pro-life Republican who is stopping a bill that would END abortion in Texas!
The outcry over Rep. Leach’s resolve to keep HB 896 from a vote in committee is understandable. Pastors, pro-life leaders and citizens of Texas have all consistently expressed their anger and disappointment wherever they can on Leach’s social media platforms and elsewhere. Leach has until May 6th to let this bill go to a vote in committee. There is no indication that he will allow it. He will not be forgiven by his constituents or by history. When abortion is criminalized, Leach will be to the modern abolitionist movement what Daniel Webster was to the movement of the 19th century.
Listen to Benjamin Franklin’s words to a tyranny that would not listen to its constituents. Here, he is speaking of the issue of taxation without representation but his words apply to this situation.
“They will petition for redress. Let the Parliaments flout their claims, reject their petitions, refuse even to suffer the reading of them, and treat the petitioners with the utmost contempt. Nothing can have a better effect in producing the alienation proposed; for though many can forgive injuries, none ever forgave contempt” (26, emphasis Franklin’s).
Rep. Leach and his cronies have shown nothing but contempt for those of us who took the time and made the investment to spend the day in Austin, TX petitioning for redress over Roe v. Wade. Leach has alienated his pro-life constituents in spite of his recent olive branch bill which intervenes for babies who have already been aborted but have the incredible luck to survive it. Leach may as well say to the unborn, “We will rescue you in Texas if you survive an abortion, but will not outlaw it altogether. So good luck, kid.” Or, as someone has pointed out in Hunger Games fashion, “May the odds be ever in your favor.”
Of course, all of this assumes that you do your own thinking and do not merely let National Right to Life or Abby Johnson do your thinking for you.
At this point, Rep. Leach is going out of his way to ignore the rising chorus of voices against his actions. He hears of the discontent, but he does not believe (foolishly) that this will cost him. Texans are Americans. Perhaps more than most, they have the spirit of the American colonists. Franklin speaks to what they will, and will not, forgive.
Franklin continues in section XVI:
“If you are told of discontent in your colonies, never believe that they are general, or that you have any occasion for them; therefore, do not think of applying any remedy, or of changing any offensive measure. Redress no grievance, lest they should be encouraged to demand the redress of some other grievance. Grant no request that is just and reasonable, lest they should make another that is unreasonable. Take all your information of the state of the colonies from your Governors and officers in enmity with them…believe nothing you hear from the friends of the people: suppose all their complaints to be invented and promoted by a few factious demagogues, whom if you could catch and hang, all would be quiet. Catch and hang a few of them accordingly; and the blood of the Martyrs shall work miracles in favor of your purpose [the reduction of a great empire to a small one]” (29, emphasis Franklin’s).
If Franklin’s advice sounds positively Machiavellian, bear in mind it is satire. Or it is supposed to be. One wonders if Rep. Leach has read this work as serious-minded political advice. His opposition to a bill that would END abortion in Texas IS Machiavellian in the worst way.
Leach appears to believe the pro-life lobbyists and talking heads as he makes his decisions to kill the bill in committee. The 340+ witnesses in the capitol building on April 8 indicate one thing if nothing else–change is here. Evangelical Christians are no longer content to put something in the offering plate on Sanctity of Life Sunday. They are not content to march at pro-life pep rallies. And they will not be content for long to listen to lectures from highly paid “experts” who are expert at nothing other than making six figure salaries off of the backs of dead babies.
So, Rep. Leach, don’t believe it. Don’t believe the phone logs from your own office. Don’t believe the emails, the private messages or the public postings on your social media platforms. Ignore the voice of the people. You are SURE to destroy the well funded pro-life swamp with your actions and THAT is something in which we can all take great comfort. You are SURE to meet your goal of reducing your great influence as chair of the Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence to nothing. But it’s OK. You can go back to your law practice and put in more hours at Meals on Wheels.
Franklin, Benjamin. Rules By Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One. Presented to a Late Minister, When He Entered upon His Administration. (Public Advertiser, September 1773). The Constitution of the United States of America and Selected Writings of the Founding Fathers. NY: Barnes & Noble, 2012. Pages 24-30.