Cause and effect. Words and deeds. Ideas and Consequences.
Most would readily acknowledge that for every deed or action there is a corresponding force, idea or motivator behind it. But all too often biases and subjectivity cloud the facts and the understanding of them, even when the clues are abundantly clear. This week was a case study of these truths.
On Wednesday, a 66 year old political activist picked up a rifle and handgun, with deliberate premediatated intent, and hatred in his heart, and drove to a baseball field where Republican Congressmen were preparing for the annual baseball charity benefit game. These Congressmen hailed from the party that pushes grannies over cliffs. They were men whose mission in life was to steal money from the poor and give to their rich friends. They were polluters whose chief aim was to destroy the globe they lived on. They were men who were racists, bigots, and homophobes. These men, in baseball cleats and uniforms, were the worst of the worst America has to offer, or so news reports, media, pundits, late night show hosts, Hollywood elites, millions of Americans, and particularly their Democratic colleagues across the aisle, would have you believe all these obvious lies and slander.
And so Mr. Hodgkinson, a staunch Bernie Sanders supporter, and avowed left-wing activist, following months and years of hearing his ideological leaders malign and defame Republicans and conservatives, made the horrific decision to do what seemed the logical thing to do, given the “crimes” of these Republicans. He would grab his weapons and descend upon these “vile” GOP Congressmen, becoming their judge, jury, and executioner. He would do what others could only bring themselves to verbalize, whether through innuendo, jest, theatrical drama, or outright threats. He would carry through. He would extinguish their lives, and in so doing, he would finally mete out the only justice these “immoral” Republicans were worthy of… destruction and death.
Thankfully, Hodgkinson’s murderous plan was foiled due primarily to the grace of God, and secondly to the heroic actions of the Capitol Police, who just “happened to be there” because Rep. Steve Scalise, Republican House Majority Whip, had his assigned security detail with him. Rather than a mass shooting with numbers of lives lost, there were a handful of Republicans (including Scalise) and Capitol police who were shot up, but are expected to recover. In a move of swift justice, the would be executioner met his Maker that very day, receiving the ultimate judgment reserved for unrepentant murderers.
But, is that the end of the story? Are there others, beyond Mr. Hodgkinson, who played a role in the tragic events of this week? If for every effect there is a cause; and if words drive actions; and if movement is preceded by force; and if ideas have consequences, then there is a mountain full of blame to spread behind the left-wing ideological lines, as I wrote about a couple months ago in this post.
Recent Calls for Political Assassinations
Whether it’s Kathy Griffin’s recent graphic beheading stunt of President Trump, or the Julius Caesar play in New York this week that depicted the main character, a Donald Trump look-alike, being assassinated, these are just two whose ideological DNA are at the scene of the crime. To call for or fantasize about the death of anyone, but particularly a member of an opposing party because you find him objectionable, or even reprehensible, should be intolerable and be met with the swiftest condemnation. Those participating in such despicable behavior should pay a heavy price. Tragically, when those toying with such hideous fantasies are nationally recognized, they water a soil that is already sown with seeds of hatred and thoughts of violence. To be clear, Mr. Hodgkinson was completely responsible for his actions. But before his fateful day, those calling for Trump’s assassination lent credence to such crimes and played a part in fanning into flames the embers of Hodgkinson’s hate.
The Media & Entertainment
It’s long been established that the overwhelming slant of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, nearly every major newspaper, and the vast majority of entertainment (Hollywood elite and musicians) in our nation participate in the unholy alliance that seeks to portray those on the right side of the political spectrum as all that is wrong with America. Every kind of disparaging remark is hurled at those of us whose “guilt” is simply embracing an ideology that, while at odds with their alliance, is most in tune with the philosophy of our founders and our Constitution. If it’s any consolation for conservatives, were our founders alive today, they would undoubtedly be targets of the left’s smears, vilification and even assassination attempts by their most radical elements.
Since Trump’s election, the barrage from the left has only increased and intensified. And so Hodgkinson’s mission to “Destroy Trump & Co.” as posted on his Facebook page, was affirmed time and time again by Hillary, Obama, Pelosi, Schumer and their partners across this nation with their latest message of RESISTANCE and disruption. This article from American Thinker identifies a partial list of the threats against the GOP and Trump by Hollywood celebrities.
Purveyors of Hate
One cannot discuss this subject without highlighting the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization that speaks in unison with the agenda of the progressive left. Like a rabid animal, SPLC’s fangs can be extremely destructive and even potentially lethal. SPLC targets many of the leaders in the Republican and conservative mainstream, listing them either as “hate groups” or affiliating with the “hate groups” they singularly pronounce. So was the case with Rep. Scalise, the Republican Congressman shot this week by Mr. Hodgkinson. SPLC had asserted that Scalise had associated with groups it deemed hate groups. And it should be noted that Hodgkinson had “Liked” SPLC’s Facebook Page.
SPLC’s ties to violence were furthered portrayed when they labeled Family Research Council as a hate group several years ago. Note that FRC is a mainstream political and policy organization that affirms both conservative and biblical values. In 2012 another left-wing gunman attacked FRC, seeking to kill dozens. Thankfully the security officer at FRC was armed and neutralized the would be murderer. Later, when interviewed by the police, the gunman acknowledged that he had gone to the SPLC “hate group” website to gain info on FRC before his attack. Shamefully, while SPLC boasts that it calls out those who hate, they have become purveyors of hate and violence themselves, and share some part in the climate that led to Hodkinson attack yesterday.
Are all liberals to blame?
It’s tempting to use a broad brush when opining about political matters but to do so would be wrong. Many Americans who voted for Hillary were appalled by the Griffin stunt and other such vile deeds. But while hatred doesn’t drive all liberals, many of them are certainly influenced unduly by the biases of their deceptive sources. And so the mouthpieces of the left, too numerous to list, carry a high level of responsibility for sowing the seeds that eventually sprout into full blown violence by some against their fellow Americans, whose sole “crime” is believing differently.
At the end of the day, this whole matter reminds me of a couple of truths from God Himself. In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus stated, “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”
And in 1 John 3:15, we see that hatred is merely murder in one’s heart: “Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.”
These are weighty thoughts and should cause all of us to look inside to test our own attitudes. If hate is equal to murder, it’s no light matter.
The question many ask themselves today is whether America can be saved from herself? Is she too far gone? Is the tenor and level of our disagreement in America between the predominant political and spiritual ideologies too far split to see a patching of our nation together again? Time will tell. But if the machine of the left continues on its unrelenting agenda to vilify and slander all views contrary to theirs, then what we witnessed this week at a baseball field in our nation’s capitol, will spill over into your city and mine next.
Plant a thought and reap a word;
Plant a word and reap an action;
Plant an action and reap a habit;
Plant a habit and reap a character;
Plant a character and reap a destiny.
Last week I wrote about my trip to the Indy 500 and the spectacular crash that happened when Scott Dixon’s car went airborne in the 53rd lap of the race. In those few seconds that followed, Dixon’s life hung in the balance. Thankfully, he survived. Dixon’s walking away from the crash was due in large part to the months and years of purposeful preparation by his team, designers, and engineers. They spent countless hours constructing a car that could withstand some of the most brutal crashes one can imagine.
But my focus today is not the crash at Indy, or the incredible design of the cars, but rather what was astonishingly absent from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and poses a grave threat to hundreds, if not thousands of fans. But before I share what was absent, here are a few quick facts about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).
- The IMS is the largest sporting venue in the United States and the World, with its capacity exceeding 400,000.
- The highest attendance ever at the IMS was 350,000, with this year’s attendance exceeding 300,000.
- The Indy 500 is held on Memorial Day Weekend, in honor of the thousands of men and women of our military who died while serving our nation. The timing of the race lends itself to a strong, patriotic theme.
- This year, Vice President Mike Pence attended the Indy 500, and his motorcade made a quick trip around the Speedway before the race.
- The IMS is not only an American icon, but it depicts the American spirit of ingenuity, enterprise and competitiveness. Built in 1909, it has been a part of America for over 45% of our nation’s history.
If you’ve ever attended a race at the IMS, you know that you can often park a mile or two away. You then make your way to the racetrack via quaint, all-American neighborhoods. The thousands of houses that surround the speedway are typical 50+ year old houses, in bustling neighborhoods, often with small front lawns and yards with picket fences. Most of the residents offer up their yards and front curbs for $10-$20 parking per car. They all want a little piece of the half-billion dollars that flood into their community on what is undoubtedly the greatest motorsport weekend of the year in America.
As my friends and I drove to the race track Sunday morning, our spirits were high, but we were also anxious that the forecasted rain would hold off. The clouds were ominous but the weatherman teased all the race fans with the potential that the rain wouldn’t appear until the last half of the race. After finding a parking place a mile and a half away, we began our walk, along with hundreds of other race fans. As we drew closer to the track, the hundreds turned to thousands and the Speedway facility rose into the sky in front of us. Outside the track, people milled everywhere. Backpacks, coolers, bags, raincoats and fanny packs were the norm. The tens of thousands heading for the entrances had one thing in mind — an afternoon of speed, excitement, crashes, and cheering for their favorite driver.
We made our way to one of the dozens of entry points into the speedway and gathered in a line, expecting to endure the requisite security screenings that have become commonplace in sporting events since 9/11. But as we met the IMS representatives checking our tickets and inspecting our belongings, we received a quick, cursory motion through. I observed many race fans, before and after me, who had backpacks, coolers and bags, and the inspection of their items was also very superficial. I spoke to another friend who entered at a separate gate who expressed the same shock over the aloof attitude of the personnel when he entered the gates as well. He was carrying a shoulder pack and the elderly lady didn’t even delve into his pack but just motioned him through with a “you’re fine!”
As I walked past security, I was instantly struck with the fact that not only was there no focused attention to what people were carrying into the venue, but I was also amazed that there were no metal detectors in place to at least catch any obvious weapons that someone might have on their person. Even law abiding citizens with firearms concealed carry permits could have passed through the Indy 500 security that weekend. I shuddered to think how easy it would have been for a terrorist to have walked through with a host of weapons that could have caused indescribable tragedy.
Following the attack in Manchester a few weeks ago, I wrote about the repercussions of ISIS inspired attacks turning from bombs laden with nails to explosives laden with neurotoxins. The Indy 500 last week represented a fertile and high valued soft-target for such weaponry. Given that our terrorist enemies pursue not only death and destruction, but they also seek symbolism in their attacks, what better target could be found than the Indy 500, an American icon that draws the largest crowd of any sporting event in America?
So there is no question that security at the IMS was appalling. I don’t want to pre-judge the owners and management of the IMS, but in this day of grave threats to the security of our nation, and an enemy that is increasingly looking for high profile soft targets, it’s inexcusable that the lives of 300,000 race fans was devalued so greatly at last week’s Indy 500. The reason an attack did not occur last week, and dozens or hundreds of casualties did not occur, was not because of the extraordinary efforts of the IMS and their staff. To the contrary, there was no terrorist attack despite the pathetic security. I can only assume that those seeking the death of our citizens were simply not up to the task last weekend. But must we wait for them to succeed before we get serious about security?
The MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA all require metal detector screenings at all of their venues. Additionally, coolers and large bags are not permitted. Implementing just these two security standards at the Indy 500 would at the very minimum eliminate the likelihood that a would-be terrorist could exploit such a current vulnerability.
As we think of the crash that Scott Dixon survived, in the context of a terrorist attack, there are three aspects to Dixon’s walking away from his horrific crash that should be a part of the IMS security protocol. They are:
- Understanding the threat
- Preparing for the threat
- Surviving the threat
There is no question that Indycar drivers, their teams and owners, understand the threat they face every time a driver strap into his car. Death or serious injury is always lurking. The fact is, the last 100 years confirms that it’s not if you will crash in motorsports, but when. And tragically, for some drivers it wasn’t if they would die, but when they would. So the threat is real.
Because the sport understands the racing threat, they have prepared for it. A few years ago, a crash like Scott Dixon’s would have undoubtedly ended the driver’s life. Yet, with continued testing, refining, and perfecting, a crash that absolutely decimated the car Dixon was in, still enabled the driver to climb out and walk away. I’m confident that Dixon, his family, team members and the entire motorsport world, would agree that whatever amount of capital was expended to prepare for the threat he faced, was worthwhile when the threat materialized.
Finally, because the Indycar series understands the threat, and continues to prepare for it, the vast majority of drivers in the league today walk away from horrific crashes. The same holds true in NASCAR and other racing series. Understand. Prepare. Survive.
But to date in our nation, I fear many, including politicians, business owners and even ordinary citizens do not understand the threat we face. Sadly, tens of millions in America still walk around as if they are immune from terrorist attacks. But Islamic terrorists are here in droves. They’ve struck already. And they will continue to do so, with greater regularity and intensity, unless we understand the magnitude of the threat.
So we must understand, but we must also prepare. I applaud President Trump for not only his understanding of the threat we face, but for his efforts to prepare our nation and cities for the threats. Sadly, he is being handcuffed all along the way by dangerous, politically correct buffoons. And mark my words, it’s just a matter of time before the roadblocks that have been thrown up to thwarts Trump’s efforts result in American lives being lost. But then it will be too late and there will be no amount of course correction that will restore the lives lost because of ignorant and incompetent leaders.
Finally, we will only survive this threat if you and I personally and individually understand and prepare for the threat facing not just our nation, but us individually. My home town of Chattanooga, TN was attacked two years ago by an Islamic terrorist. Five Americans died and more were injured. That’s too close for comfort. But your city could be or will be next. Will you wait until it happens or will you prepare for such a potential? If you want to survive the unimaginable, like Scott Dixon did, then do like he did.
Understand. Prepare. Survive.
To do less is to gamble with your life and those you love.
Manchester. Paris. London. Berlin. Stockholm. Nice. Brussels. Boston. San Bernardino. Orlando. These are just a few of the many cities in the Western world that have felt the scourge of Islamic Terrorism. Sadly, my hometown, Chattanooga, has also experienced Islamic Terrorism, as I wrote about a couple years ago in my article “When Evil Visited Our City.”
The Manchester massacre at an Ariana Grande concert this week, is yet another reminder that Islamic terrorism remain alive and well, in its diabolical quest to subject the masses. Once again, ISIS and their radical accomplices dealt a vicious blow to innocent lives. Over one hundred children and adults were injured or murdered at the hands of a brutal suicide bomber, as he detonated an improvised explosive device full of nails and ball bearings.
As tragic as this attack was, it could be a precursor to something so much worse and massive in terms of loss of life, as noted in this headline from earlier this week:
Isis tests chemical weapons on ‘human guinea pigs’, secret documents reveal
Dirty bombs, whether radioactive or chemical in nature, pose a mounting threat in this escalating battle between Islamic ideology and the Western world. These weapons of mass destruction, small in relative size, but enormous in destructive potential, have been a threat for years. As ISIS pursues chemical weapons to inflict even greater terror, harm, and death, it’s likely just a matter of time before neurotoxins replace nails.
I shudder to think of the future attacks by Islamic terrorists at concerts, sporting events, or other such “soft” targets. And as awful as the Manchester attack was, it could be dwarfed by an ISIS inspired suicide bomber, carrying a backpack with a chemical weapon. The impact from such an attack could be well into the multiple of thousands. And so, the threat could not be more grave and the urgency could not be greater to crush, root out, and thoroughly obliterate the scourge of Islamic terrorism.
President Trump’s trip this week to the the Middle East was extraordinarily timely, as he met with high profile Islamic states and their representatives. His message to them was clear. While America is committed to annihilating the cancer of Islamic terrorism, the ultimate responsibility for destroying this belief system lies at the feet of Islam itself. Will Muslims around the world, step up and purge their cultures, societies, mosques and madrasas? And if not, will our own political leaders take the necessary steps to protect our citizens?
Time will tell, but the sad reality is that the fundamentals taught within the Islamic trilogy (Koran, Hadith and Sira) and the example offered by Islam’s founder, Mohammed, are at odds with an ideology that our politically correct world fancies the “religion of peace.” Sure, there are passages that speak of peace, and there were times in Mohammed’s life that he was peaceful, but the actual meaning of the word Islam is “submission,” although your Muslim friend might tell you it is peace. And one only need read the passages and examples offered by the Trilogy and Mohammed himself, to see where ISIS gains the inspiration for its barbarism and depravity.
Saffie Rose Roussos
So in an age of tolerance, there can be no tolerance for an ideology that seeks to kill us all, including eight year old girls like Saffie Rose Roussos, as she was enjoying a music concert with her friends this week. An attack on Manchester by Islamic terrorists is an attack on us all. But to eradicate this scourge from amongst us, it will require political leaders to first acknowledge the truth of this ideology. Until then, the attacks will not only continue, but they will grow in severity as the body count increases.
Trump. WMD’s (Weapons of Mass Destruction). Facebook. Fake News. Truth.
You might ask what do all these disparate subjects have to do with each other. Honestly, I could have listed a host of other subjects that, at first glance, might have appeared to have had absolutely no correlation. But hang with me and hopefully I’ll tie them all together.
During the Presidential campaign in 2016, and the years leading up to it, Donald Trump, the candidate and citizen, made a number of claims that, now as he is President, appear to have been untrue… or else Trump just changed his mind. While there are many promises one could point to, the most recent example is Trump’s views of Syria over the years. To be clear, this article is not about whether launching a strike on Syria was a good decision or not, but rather about the reality that a politician will tell you one thing when seeking your vote, but once elected, those promises are worth as much as the money the Federal Reserve prints.
So what is the truth?
A number of years ago the phrase, “Bush lied and people died” was regularly leveled at our 43rd President. The basis for this view was the perspective that President George W. Bush lied about WMD’s as a pretense to invade Iraq. The left, the media, and even many republicans and libertarians, asserted that there were never any WMD’s in Iraq. While the intent of this article is not to re-litigate this decade old debate, it should be noted that there are numbers of reports that purport to validate that WMD’s were indeed in Iraq, including the notion that many of them made their way to Syria.
So what is the truth?
Facebook touts nearly 2 billion active users. That’s a lot of people sharing photos, personal tidbits, recipes, and untold other stories. But Facebook has become a major purveyor of articles that are either totally false or are highly suspect. In fact, Facebook has now set up a manner for its members to report false stories to them. So if you are suspicious, report the post to the Facebook police, and they’ll investigate the authenticity of the article you reported. Which doesn’t mean you’ll get the truth. Rather, you’ll simply get what Facebook wants you to believe is the truth.
So what is the truth?
Over this last year, a new phrase has become commonplace: Fake News. One news source asserts another one is false. Websites now evaluate the claims of others and rate them with Pinocchio noses; the more noses, the greater the lie. And even our President has become accustomed to referring to media outlets he views as his adversaries, like CNN, as “Fake News.”
So what is the truth?
It seems that in the age of Google, Siri, instant access, and terabytes of data, man is no closer to understanding the truth of a matter, than when man was carving images on cave walls.
And that’s the tie between all these seemingly unrelated topics. TRUTH.
So what is the truth? That’s the question we should be asking ourselves over and over. Regardless of where we read or hear a story reported, we should be skeptical, in a good way, of claims we hear in our polarized world today. There is nigh a person, group, party, or nation, who doesn’t have an agenda to push, or a perspective that they cling to.
We all want the truth. But do we have it? And even more importantly, do we present the truth in what we live out everyday in our lives? This is a question I am asking myself in my own personal life.
I’m reminded of these verses in Isaiah 59 that seemingly foretold this present age:
We know we have rebelled and have denied the Lord. We have turned our backs on our God.
We know how unfair and oppressive we have been, carefully planning our deceitful lies.
Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found.
Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed.
Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.
The Lord looked and was displeased to find there was no justice.
If you take the time to read the entire chapter in Isaiah, you will find a myriad of societal problems that flow from a rejection of Truth. When we reject Truth, we are in essence rejecting God. Our problems now, as they were in Isaiah’s day, are pervasive. No, they are not limited to Donald Trump, or WMD’s or Fake News. If our government merely reflects its people, what does that say when our politicians routinely distort the truth?
So is there a solution to our Truth problem in America? Well, you and I cannot change Trump, or the Fake News sites, but we can individually commit to pursuing Truth in our own lives. As we do that, we will have taken the first step in the direction of Truth. And as we do, “the Truth will set us free.”
This last year has been a year in which the term #FakeNews gained prominence in America. It seems that everywhere you turn, false reports are regularly popping up as fact. Amazingly, Wikipedia even defines #FakeNews as this:
Fake News is a type of hoax or deliberate spread of misinformation, be it via the traditional news media or social media, with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically. It often employs eye-catching headlines or entirely fabricated news-stories. They have no basis in fact, but are presented as and believed to be factually accurate…
Pathetically though, Republican politicians are now getting in on the #FakeNews trend in Tennessee and here’s the background.
Republican Governor Bill Haslam proffered a bill he entitled the IMPROVE act (Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy). The bill, as modified, would increase gas taxes in Tennessee over $300 million per year to fund road repairs across the state. However, in order to “offset” the tax increase that Tennesseans will see at the pump and feel in their wallets, the bill would also reduce taxes on groceries, but not by an equivalent amount. In fact, less than half of the increase is offset by the grocery tax decrease.
To make up the difference, Haslam, bolstered by Republican “yes-men” legislators, cobbled together a tax decrease via two other taxes. The first decrease is in the Franchise & Excise Tax, exclusively a business tax. The second decrease is in the Hall Income Tax, a tax on certain investment income, that only a very small percentage of individuals in Tennessee pay. Furthermore, legislation was passed last year, before Haslam’s 2017 Gas Tax proposal, that agreed to phase out the Hall Tax over several years, with a full repeal by 2022.
So, if you consider the details of Haslam’s proposal, it’s clear that the vast majority of hard-working Tennesseans will never benefit from the F&E Tax decrease or the Hall Income tax phase out. And the marginal decrease in their grocery tax will not even come close to offsetting the increase they will see when they fill-up each week at the pump. So the truth is most Tennesseans will see a drop in their disposable income if Governor Haslam’s IMPROVE “Gas Tax” bill is passed by the Tennessee legislature.
As a backdrop to the whole debate over Governor Haslam’s Gas Tax is the fact that Tennessee has enjoyed a record $2 billion budget surplus this last year. Additionally, the surpluses are projected to continue for the next several years. Consider though that the source of government receipts is predominantly from taxes.
So, in simple terms, Tennessee overtaxed its citizens $2 billion last year, and it projects to continue overtaxing them for the foreseeable future, upwards of at least another billion dollars. But worse, rather than use those surpluses, Governor Haslam and many Republican legislators want to raise taxes even further via Haslam’s Gas Tax bill.
As a result of these surpluses, a number of alternate proposals have been offered to simply divert for road repairs a portion of the surpluses in a similar amount to what Governor Haslam is requesting. This would not only replace Governor Haslam’s proposal but it would also eliminate any need for a tax increase.
But here’s where things cross the line from just a bad policy decision to a purposeful act of deception. Governor Haslam’s “yes-men” in the legislature have been pulling out all the stops to push the Governor’s IMPROVE bill through, by hook or crook. But because of the constant efforts by grassroots activists to expose the truth that the flawed bill will raise taxes on most Tennesseans, according to the Tennessee Star, Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Barry Doss (R-Leoma) and Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) led the effort to rename the IMPROVE act to the “Tax Cut Act of 2017.”
Yes, you read that correctly. By falsely applying tax cuts that 1) apply solely to businesses (F&E Tax), and 2) were agreed to in a prior year and do not apply to the majority of Tennesseans (Hall Income Tax), Rep. Doss, Rep. McCormick and a host of other Republican Representatives are deceptively pronouncing that a bill that increases taxes on hard-working Tennesseans, will actually cut taxes on them.
Can someone say #FakeTaxCut?
So is this #FakeTaxCut a foregone conclusion? Not hardly. If there is a lesson in Trump’s victory in November, it is that the People can still determine the outcome of their government. But Trump only won because people showed up and let their voices be heard. And that’s the only way that Haslam’s #FakeTaxCut will be defeated — if Tennessee voters pick up their cell phones, and take 60 seconds to let their voices be heard. If you’re willing to do so, then the price of gas at the pump may not go up. But if you won’t invest a minute of your time, then you can count on Republicans, the party of “lower taxes,” to raise your taxes.
The choice is YOURS.
Click here to contact your Tennessee State Representative and Senator
It was March 23, 2010. One of the most contentious political battles in recent American history was over. President Obama had just signed into law his signature legislation: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. House Republicans immediately introduced legislation to repeal Obamacare, and over the next six years, Republicans would introduce more than 60 different bills to repeal all or parts of Obamacare.
In 2015, the House and Senate, both under Republican control, passed HR 3762, a bill that repealed the most significant parts of Obamacare. (President Obama would veto the Repeal bill.) It’s noteworthy to highlight that support for the 2015 Repeal of Obamacare was near unanimous by Republicans with only 7 House Republicans and 2 Senate Republicans voting Nay, or against it. (239 Republican Representatives and 52 Republican Senators voted Aye, in favor.) As a side note, my Congressman Chuck Fleischmann and both of my Senators, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, all voted for the Repeal Bill.
During the three election cycles (2012, 2014, 2016) following the passage of Obamacare, Republican House and Senate candidates, challengers and incumbents alike, would nearly unanimously, and repeatedly, promise that if voters would elect, or reelect, them, they would Repeal Obamacare. And based on those promises, Republican, moderate, conservative, tea party, and independent voters entrusted their vote to these elected officials.
Then the 2016 Presidential cycle happened. While the Republican Primary was one of the most crowded field of candidates in memory, with each of them offering their own ideas and promises, there was one issue on which all the candidates agreed: Their unanimous commitment to the Repeal of Obamacare.
Following the Primary, and with the nomination of Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for Presidency, the GOP’s nominee promised to Repeal Obamacare. And the 2016 GOP Platform further reiterated the Party’s commitment to a full Repeal of Obamacare. Note this quote from the Republican Platform (page 36):
“Any honest agenda for improving healthcare must start with repeal of the dishonestly named Affordable Care Act of 2010: Obamacare. It weighs like the dead hand of the past upon American medicine. It imposed a Euro-style bureaucracy to manage its unworkable, budget-busting, conflicting provisions. It has driven up prices for all consumers. Their insurance premiums have dramatically increased while their deductibles have risen about eight times faster than wages in the last ten years… We agree with the four dissenting judges of the Supreme Court: ‘In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety.’
“To that end, a Republican president, on the first day in office, will use legitimate waiver authority under the law to halt its advance and then, with the unanimous support of Congressional Republicans, will sign its repeal.”
Let that last sentence sink in.
Is there any question that the full Repeal of Obamacare was promised, ad infinitum, by the Party and all of its candidates?
But if there’s one thing that seems to be synonymous with politicians, it is broken promises. There is nigh a profession that has a lower credibility rating than that of a politician. I have met many politicians including local, state and federal ones. And one thing I’ve noticed about most of them is that they are fond to commit to the voter in order to gain their vote. But once they are elected, there is something that flips in the politician’s mind; something that quickly turns the page on those campaign promises, as they jet off to Washington or their state capitol. Whether it’s a character flaw in the type of individuals that are attracted to the profession of governing, or whether it’s that as they leave voters behind, they can also leave promises behind, it’s a rare instance when politicians are willing to fulfill the promises they make.
Sadly that’s what American voters once again witnessed this last week. When the Republican health care plan known as RyanCare, TrumpCare, or the American Health Care Act, was put forward, a promise was broken. And it wasn’t just one promise. The Repeal of Obamacare was promised by:
President Donald Trump,
each Republican Senator,
each Republican Representative,
Republican Speaker Paul Ryan, and
the Republican Party in its 2016 Platform.
And as already noted, nearly every Republican Representative and Senator voted in favor of the 2015 Repeal of Obamacare as well.
I once heard someone ask the question,
“How do you know when a politician is lying? Answer: When their lips are moving.”
Of course, this is a very cynical, over-generalization of an entire profession. But when the overriding theme of a political party and their nearly 300 elected officials is the Repeal Obamacare, for six long years, and when they are ultimately entrusted with the power and authority to do so, what should voters conclude when such a material promise is broken?
What is also commonplace amongst politicians is to deflect blame when they’re under pressure, rather than simply owning up when they break their promise. Once again, this week we saw the blame game, from Trump to Ryan, and from House Representatives to the Republican Party. That blame was heaped on 40 or so Representatives who, unlike Ryan, Trump and an entire party, resolved to keep the promise they made. This group, known as the Freedom Caucus, had a simple message: “Let’s keep our promise. Let’s Repeal Obamacare. Let’s simply vote as we did in 2015.”
But they became the villains. The scapegoats. And many voters are falling for Trump and the Republican Party’s blame game, forgetting that those doing the blaming are the ones breaking the promise.
The 2015 Repeal bill, supported by nearly every Republican member, was actually introduced by Freedom Caucus member Jim Jordan last month. But Ryan and Trump and a couple hundred other elected officials, effectively affirmed Obamacare and all of its destructive regulations, by refusing to honor their promise. Had they simply taken up the Repeal Bill that was passed by each of these Congressional members in 2015, Obamacare would be history, with a two year phase out period. This time frame would have been ample time to pass common sense healthcare reform.
Beyond keeping a promise, the reality is that only a full repeal of Obamacare will insure that the virus that has infected our government will be extricated from our healthcare system. Anything less will simply insure that the destructive nature of Obamacare will be allowed to remain.
So what’s next? My guess is that politicians will be politicians, and do what they do best: Promise the world but deliver a sack of IOU’s. And their credibility will sink even lower than Trump’s favorability ratings. But my hope is that for once, these men and women will honor their promise, and just do the right thing.
Our nation’s future, and your healthcare, hang in the balance.
“Let your Yea be Yea and your Nay be Nay…” (Matthew 5:37)