Straight Talk About Judges, Politicians, and Casting Your Vote

Coach Congress 2023 Lynn Baber

A funny thing happened in Austin…

Politicians seldom inspire a case of the warm fuzzies and only TWO PERCENT of Americans trust the government to do the right thing most of the time.

The week I spent at a desk on the floor of the Texas Senate in early August 2023, taught me some new lessons and smacked me over the head with ones I’d already learned but wasn’t applying correctly.

During a mock legislative session, I submitted legislation to forestall Central Bank Digital Currency that survived the committee and calendars process, introduced it on the Floor, and ultimately won passage and “signature.” In turn, I served on a committee, questioned and spoke to bills submitted by my colleagues, and cast my public vote before a gallery of Capitol observers who thought we were the real deal. 

What’s Wrong With Politicians and Judges?

Few would argue that we live in a messed up world, endure a debased culture, and lament a wishy-washy church. What’s the common denominator in bad politics, societal breakdown, and powerless religion?

People. The common factor is the folks. In other words, you and me.

Human nature hasn’t changed since Genesis 3. Whether it’s relating to horses, other folks, judging horse shows, or politics—human nature is still the cause of our ills.

Whatever the topic, part of that nature includes drawing incorrect assumptions. That means we think we know what’s behind someone else’s behavior, but are often wrong.

Judging the Horse Show Judges

It’s widely assumed that equine champions are largely chosen by politics and cash. But, experience as a judge myself didn’t support what I’d long heard.

Instead, I discovered that many judges aren’t as qualified in some disciplines as they are in others. For instance, a judge who specializes in training and showing jumpers may have never trained or exhibited a cutting or reining horse.

When in doubt, some all-too-human judges let the best trainers win because it was their safest option. Why? Because no one wants to look foolish, and judges can’t admit that they don’t know how to place a great set of horses.

Even when money or ego affect judgment, human nature is still the root cause.

Saint Bernards and Pomeranians

To tilt the illustration a bit, consider someone who knows almost everything there is to know about breeding and training ginormous Saint Bernards but may know little about diminutive Pomeranian fluff balls. Hey, they’re both canine and hairy, so what difference could it make, right?

The other thing I learned from judging horse shows, where I usually worked with three other judges, is that people like to support their friends. It’s not a righteous option when you’re entrusted with choosing winners and losers, but it is human nature, and in other circumstances, is one of the best parts of our character.

That covers the judges. Another reason people watching horse shows didn’t agree with a judge’s opinion is perspective. The view from the outside isn’t the same as it is in the center of the arena.

My lightbulb moment in Austin had to do with:

  • acquired knowledge,
  • fraternity, and
  • assumption.

The Difference Between Scientist and Philosopher

“Some people regard the former as one who knows a great deal about a very little, and who keeps on knowing more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing. Then he is a scientist. “Then there are the latter specimen (the philosopher), who knows a little about very much, and he continues to know less and less about more and more until he knows nothing about everything. Then he is a philosopher.”

Judging Politicians (or anyone else)

As a particular bill was being introduced on the Floor, the man seated next to me exclaimed, “Oh, no! I told him that if he’d support my bill I’d support his.” This one wasn’t a good bill.

Knowing that they were both Christian conservatives, my new colleague never imagined that he’d have to choose between voting righteously and living up to the deal he’d made with a friend. 

Several bills were introduced with good intentions, but so flawed in their composition that they needed to fail. People who don’t understand the complexities of a topic often vote for the intent without considering the unintended consequences. 

Years as a horse show judge prepared me to be a lone voice because I wasn’t only accountable for following the rule book, but also for the safety of every person and animal in the show pen.  Sometimes I didn’t agree with either my colleague’s interpretation of the rules or how they placed a class. But, I only signed my judging cards, not theirs.

When casting a vote in Austin, I wasn’t afraid to stand with a few or even alone. Being in the minority on the Senate floor is obvious by voice vote or the hand signals legislators use. One raised finger indicates an Aye vote; two raised fingers is a Nay vote.

Counting votes means counting fingers.

My 1988 Campaign

I lost my political innocence when I stood for county office in 1988 in Omaha, Nebraska. Like Pandora’s Box, once the evils escape, you can never put them back again. The campaign was a study in human nature as much as politics. I survived the primary but lost the general to someone with a globally famous dad.

Even with 40 years as a relationship professional and behaviorist, I learned even more during my week in Austin. 

Suggested Rules For Judges and Politicians

  • Know and act on God’s word to vote or judge well.

  • Understand the rules.

  • Don’t judge if you’re not qualified.

  • No one understands every issue.

  • People want to get along with one another.

  • People are often unaware of their own motives.

  • Friendship is powerful, but

  • The fear of looking foolish is more powerful.

  • Never vote on assumption alone.

Do Politicians Understand What They’re Voting On?

Texas Legislators filed a record 8,046 bills in the 2023 regular session, of which 4,550 passed and 77 failed. Members passed hundred of new laws and leave voters to consider FOURTEEN state constitutional amendments on the November ballot.  

Do you believe every representative understood what he or she voted on? 

Two weeks after returning home from Austin I was asked to attend a special School Board meeting in a neighboring district about censuring one member for violating Board policy. 

The request came in the same day as the meeting. I spent hours doing online research about this highly publicized issue. A close friend from the community in question joined me in the search for facts. She located and verified the precise policy document and language. I also spoke with the head of the local newspaper who had two reporters on the story.

It’s a tiny school district, yet every news station from Dallas sent reporters and camera crews who stayed for the entire meeting.

By the time the meeting ended that night, we’d invested 14-16 hours gathering facts. Some questions about how the “investigation” was conducted remain unanswered, but I finally knew enough to have an informed opinion. 

From The Senate To The School Board

My colleagues in Austin voted on legislation they didn’t fully understand. Maybe I did as well, but no one knows what they don’t know. 

How many hours do elected officials spend on each bill before casting a vote? I spent an entire day, from early morning until late at night on one little-bitty school board matter that was, in the end, political theater. 

If each bill got just six hours of research, then Texas legislators would spend 27,762 hours in preparation for votes, which is 2,397 more hours than there are in a year, and impossible in a 140-day session. Imagine how much more involved statewide tax policy is when compared to one school board policy.

Horse show judges aren’t experts on every class they place. Legislators aren’t experts on every bill they pass or fail.

How many voters will understand the FOURTEEN proposed amendments they have to vote on in less than two months?

Your Obligation To Vote and Vote Righteously

It’s vitally important that people with the right to vote understand the topic so that their vote is a righteous one. Legislators cast thousands of votes while most of us will cast a dozen or so each election cycle.

Be prepared before you vote, because how you approach it falls under the broad heading of Biblical Stewardship. I believe that voting wrong or neglecting to vote altogether are equally problematic from God’s perspective.

In Austin, I learned that the view from outside the statehouse and committee room is different than the view inside. Instead of making assumptions about motives, consider giving grace. We’ve sure received plenty ourselves.

Biblical Stewardship

You’ll notice that my website has been re-titled, “biblical stewardship.” That covers everything in life, because Jesus is sovereign over everything. 

In the United States, voting isn’t just a privilege of liberty, but also a stewardship obligation. 

Lynn Baber

Lynn Baber

Lynn is a best-selling author, retired World and National Champion horse breeder and trainer, former business consultant, motivational speaker, and serial entrepreneur. She continues to equip and encourage Christ-followers to enjoy lives of bold, border-free faith.

Lynn Baber

Lynn Baber

Lynn Baber is a best-selling author, retired World and National Champion horse breeder and trainer, former business consultant, motivational speaker, and serial entrepreneur. She continues to equip and encourage Christ-followers to enjoy lives of bold, border-free faith.

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