Oh, President Obama would be so proud of me! I’ve just been community organizing up a storm this week.
Last Saturday, the kids and I were with an actual community coalition (three or four local pro-life groups) protesting a new Planned Parenthood being built.
This Friday, we’ll all be in DC for the March for Life. We’ll probably be freezing, but we’ll be there.
On Monday, we were in Richmond for the 10th Amendment Rally.
One blogger insisted that there were only “500 or 600″ people there, with a huge dose of police to “prevent violence” and a ton of people reporting on the event, who didn’t count, so maybe the number was even lower, he pointed out. Sour grapes!
The people who put the thing on said the Capitol police gave an estimate of 2,300.
Most news reports said the rally had more than 1,000 people, which made it the largest rally at the Capitol in years… over the rather dry issue of the 10th Amendment. Not exactly firebrand stuff, that.
Yes, of course there were police, including mounted officers (Empress was so excited; she wanted the horses to come closer so she could see them better). They looked like most of the officers at rallies I’ve been to: attentive, but rather bored, because they knew we weren’t exactly the dangerous types. Armed, maybe, but not particularly exciting.
The emcee was a Patrick Henry reenactor, who prefaced his dramatic recitation of Henry’s famous speech by pointing out that this is not the same as Henry’s time: we have recourse to protest, to voting, to lobbying. It’s still a great speech, given to the House of Burgesses in March 1775, calling them to vote for independence:
… Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it. …
Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
The crowd loved it.
A major focus of the rally was the bills currently in the legislature. One, modeled after the one passed in Montana in a sort of states’ rights test case, would delare that Virginia is under no obligation to comply with federal gun regulations for weapons made, sold, and kept within Virginia. The other bill would declare that Virginia would not enforce the federal mandate on health insurance, which would try to require every American to buy health insurance from a federally-approved company.
This wasn’t just about the Democrats, either; several Republicans caught flack for previous actions and votes. The problem, as the speakers generally presented it, was the lack of respect for (or even awareness of) the limits and restrictions that the Constitution and the Founding Fathers placed on the government, especially at the federal level.
I’m not going to summarize everyone; many people, including the newly installed Virginia Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, gave interesting speeches. (I did take issue with the guy who claimed that the Virginia Constitution retained the right for the state to secede. While I heartily agree that the states’ relationship to the federal government has to be improved, there has to be a lesser form of complaint resolution than secession if we expect to have a functioning country. Like any good marriage, arguments can/will happen, but divorce can’t be an option on the table.)
The point is, here was the largest rally at the state capitol in years, possibly decades, and what did we want? Just to get the federal government back in its box after decades of loaning our rights to the federal government for the purposes of micromanaging everything and anything. That box is most clearly delineated by the 9th and 10th amendments to the U.S. Constitution:
- 9th: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
- 10th: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
We traded our liberties for promises of safety. Unfortunately, we’re finally realizing that the safety wasn’t as good as it was played up to be. Government entitlement programs are bankrupting the country. We’ve sold our children into debt to foreign countries for decades to come. For what? The worst unemployment in decades? Meanwhile, the government assures us that everything our parents or churches ever told us was wrong will be forgiven by Uncle Sam.
The long loan is over; the people want their rights back.