I hope that you saw the news that broke a couple of days ago that the infamous Biden Administration Disinformation Governance Board (aka the Ministry of Truth) folded like a cheap suit. Oh, and the maven of disinformation who has all of zero life experience in governance, the MoT Executive Director Nena Jankowicz, resigned after three weeks on the job. You know why this happened, don’t you? It happened because this bad idea, which was poorly executed and fraught with disaster, received such a public outcry that even the usually tone-deaf Biden Administration had to do something.
You see, that’s what happens when good people speak out! That’s what can happen when the silent majority says, "Enough." And this week at the polls I am hopeful that many will choose to let their voices be heard.
It reminded me of a story from the Bible. Lately, in my morning quiet times, I’ve been stuck in 1 Samuel 14. I haven’t been able to leave it. I’ve been reading it, dissecting it, reading it in different translations, and reviewing what commentaries have to say on it. There are so many lessons in that one passage. But most recently, what caught my attention were verses 45-46.
You see, just prior to that point, King Saul’s son Jonathan had galvanized a beleaguered and depressed nation of Israel. The Israelite army was hiding in caves from the Philistines, but Jonathan was a warrior who sparked life back into the Israelite army by picking a fight and winning. His father, King Saul, was already in the process of losing his grip on the throne and had made a series of bad decisions. Sure enough, despite Jonathan’s leadership, King Saul kept making bad public policy.
Saul decided it would be a great idea to make the sudden and reckless pronouncement that no one was to eat a single bite until they had wiped out the Philistines. I’m sure that it sounded great sitting under the pomegranate tree where Saul had affixed himself. But what leader sends troops into battle without rations? The fight became a sustained battle over days. The army was getting winded, but the king’s bad policy decision was still in front of them. The only one who had not gotten the word because he was too busy actually fighting the Philistines was King Saul’s son Jonathan, the same hero who had inspired the battle in the first place. Sure enough, Scripture tells us that Jonathan came upon a beehive and dipped his sword into the honeycomb and ate it.
Well, that became a whole thing. There he was: Jonathan, the hero of the nation, unaware of a stupid and rash policy decision that did nothing to achieve victory. Jonathan was focused on winning, while his father was focused on making decrees.
When King Saul found out, he pronounced that his own son would have to die for violating the king’s edict. The king actually stopped the battle and quit pursuing the enemy who was on the run to deal with his son having a bite of honey on the battlefield. You can imagine how that went over! The people were beside themselves. They respected their king, but they loved Jonathan - he was their hero!
Everyone knew it was a bad policy decision, but no one had issued a contrary word of counsel to the king when he proclaimed it. As a result, Jonathan’s life was on the line and the people had had enough.
In 1 Samuel 14:45-46, the people made themselves heard, and they did so very clearly. The direct quote from a modern translation states it this way:
"But the troops retorted, 'Jonathan, who saved Israel today, shall die? Far from it! We vow by the life of God that not one hair on his head will be touched, for he has been used of God to do a mighty miracle today.' So the people rescued Jonathan.
Then Saul called back the army, and the Philistines returned home."
Let me paraphrase that for you: The troops “retorted” - that’s a stiff reply, almost belligerent and willfully argumentative. They weren’t taking this up for debate. The people basically said, “Well by God, that’s not going to happen. He’s the reason why we had a victory and you’re not touching a hair on his head… he’s the only one among us who has been in God’s will all along!”
When the outcry was heard. verse 46 indicates that Saul just quit the battle altogether and let the Philistines go home.
Here's the thing that got my attention when I keyed in on that passage: leaders sometimes make bad decisions. Leaders sometimes chase rabbits and forget what’s important. Some leaders also become prideful and believe that because they set the policy that there is no discussion, and it doesn’t matter what the outcome will be, and that their policies could never be wrong. We see these arbitrary and capricious moments from government leadership all too often.
But the people still have a voice, and the people can still effect change, and the people can still band together and make themselves known.
Take note that in the story I just related that no one threatened the king. No one raised a finger to Saul. No one insulted him or renounced him as their leader. But they did say enough is enough. The people not only spoke up, but they clearly stated that they would not obey what was obviously failed policy. The people spoke, and in the act of civil disobedience, they called for sanity in the midst of madness. Make no mistake; it was risky. The people were willing to put their own names on the line. They stuck their own necks out, but they did it because they were loyal to the one who was being mistreated. They saw injustice, and they would not sit idly by.
So here’s my point: when we see really bad decisions made in the realm of public policy - like shutting down businesses and churches such as the Kay Ivey administration did; or mandating vaccinations at the expense of your job, like both Biden and Ivey did; or teaching kids that they are a privileged oppressor or a hapless victim simply because of the skin color that God chose for them; or when government grows itself on your tax dollars without any relief like both Montgomery and DC have been doing; or when our Southern Border is non-existent by not enacting good decisions on border security; or when we can be fully energy independent as proven in the last two years but we choose instead to deal with Iran and Venezuela; or, as in the case of what happened recently, our own government decides it is going to be the arbiter of truth through its official Office of Disinformation - for all of those reasons and many more it is incumbent upon the people to become what Thomas Jefferson described as the “well informed electorate” and to make our voices heard.
Based on what I read in 1 Samuel and what I saw with the Office of Disinformation, making our voices heard can still be very effective.
Alabama goes to the polls on Tuesday. This is one of our most intentional and constitutionally grounded means to be heard. This is a must. This is about freedom.
It's amazing what can happen when the people make their voices heard.
Phil Williams is a former State Senator, retired Army Colonel and combat veteran, and a practicing Attorney. He has served with the leadership of the Alabama Policy Institute and currently hosts Rightside Radio M-F 2-5 pm on WVNN. His column appears every Monday in 1819 News. To contact Phil or request him for a speaking engagement, go to www.rightsideradio.org. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.