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The National Debt: How America’s Festering Cancer Will Affect You

The National Debt: How America’s Festering Cancer Will Affect You

the-national-debt

With the election of Donald Trump, roughly half of Americans are hopeful, while the other half are dejected, if not alarmed and angry.   While that may be a slight overgeneralization, we can probably all agree that the campaign leading up to the Presidential election was one of the nastiest in recent history, characterized by intense personal attacks, with little attention given to the many challenges our nation is facing.  One such challenge is our exploding national debt and its dire implications for you and me.

As someone who has been a fiscal conservative all of my adult life, I was sorely disappointed to see such little attention given to the financial welfare of our nation.  With our nation approaching $20 trillion in current debt, it should come as no surprise to anyone that a financial storm, like none we have seen, is likely in our future.  Yet, neither Trump nor Clinton spoke much of our debt.  When it was mentioned, it was simply noted in passing, with no plan by either candidate to halt, much less reverse, the current course we are on.

While it’s understandable that neither candidate was interested in tackling America’s festering cancer, what is alarming is the fact that many of the organizations who have typically decry our national debit, remained silent during the campaign.  As the founder of the Chattanooga Tea Party, our organization locally, along with the national tea party movement, has consistently focused on fiscal issues over the last seven years.  Likewise, the Republican Party has historically been the party of fiscal responsibility, if not in action, at least in words.  

Yet nationally, both the Tea Party and the Republican Party said very little about the silence of both Hillary and Trump concerning our fiscal nightmare.

With reference to our national debt though, the old adage, ignorance is bliss, does not apply.  In fact, choosing to ignore what is certain to cause calamitous events in the not too distant future, is akin to knowing one has cancer, yet discussion of the illness is avoided, hoping it will somehow go away.

So just how bad is our fiscal cancer?  

Just as a picture is worth a thousand words, the following three charts illustrate the magnitude of our $19.5 trillion debt. To be certain the terms are understood, deficits are the annual differences between what our government takes in versus what it pays out, or spends.  The gross debt is the cumulative sum of those annual deficits.

 Chart #1: The Gross Public Debt from 1980 – 2016
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Chart #2: The Federal Deficit from 1980 – 2016
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Chart #3:  Trillion Dollar Deficits Return by 2024
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As the charts depict, for decades our nation has been spending well beyond its means.  In fact, during the last two Presidential administrations, the US incurred an approximate $15 trillion of new debt, with nearly two-thirds of that amount being added during the Obama era.  

According to an article at Visual Capitalist, our national debt is:

  • Larger than the 500 largest public companies in America.

  • Larger than all the assets managed by the world’s top seven money managers.

  • 25x larger that all the global oil exports in 2015.

  • 155x larger than all the gold mined globally in a year.

  • Larger than the sum of the world’s physical currency, gold, silver, and bitcoin combined.

But as troubling as this should be to any American, the future looks even worse according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections, as presented by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.  CRFB is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization committed to educating the public on issues with significant fiscal policy impact. 

To quote CRFB, “under CBO’s current law baseline, annual deficits will return to trillion-dollar levels by 2024. Under a more pessimistic Alternative Fiscal Scenario in which policymakers fail to pay for new spending and extended tax cuts, trillion-dollar deficits return to 2021 and reach $1.5 trillion — a nominal-dollar record — by 2026.”

Despite the magnitude of our debt, there have been some who have suggested that our soaring debt is no big deal.  Rather, they have asserted that debt is good, particularly when interest rates are at historical lows.    

In contrast to that view though is that of Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who in 2011 stated,

“the single, biggest threat to our national security is our debt, so I also believe we have every responsibility to help eliminate that threat.  A nation with our current levels of unsustainable debt… cannot hope to sustain for very long its superiority from a military perspective, or its influence in world affairs.”

Every budget is finite, even one as large as our federal government’s, which is now approaching $4 trillion per year.  So as certain components of that budget increase, they either crowd out other line items or they demand greater borrowings to meet the shortfall caused by deficit spending.  

Our nation has enjoyed historically low interest rates for a number of years.  But when those interest rates invariably rise, so will interest costs.  In fact, the CBO projects that those rising interest rates over the next ten years will increase the federal interest costs from $223 billion in 2015 to $839 billion in 2026.  This will lead to fewer dollars available for other essential government programs, including the military, Medicare, Social Security, infrastructure and more.  

Chart 4: Projected net interest expense, in billions of dollars & as a % of total outlays 
projected-net-interest-expense-in-billions-of-dollars-and-as-a-percentage-of-total-federal-outlays-2015-2026

So just how does a government that has an insatiable appetite for spending, and has shown no restraint to borrowing funds, affect ordinary citizens like you and me?  Here are just a few of the ways:

  1. Economic growth is threatened as national debt increases.

  2. Wages are depressed and the availability of jobs is minimized.

  3. The stability of Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid is jeopardized.

  4. Personal costs of living increase as interest rates on individual credit ratchet up.

  5. Burden for repayment of nation’s overspending today will be heaped on our children and grandchildren tomorrow.

  6. As debt increases and spending accelerates, likelihood of another financial crisis increases, endangering personal wages, jobs, and investments.

As I mentioned at the outset, half of Americans are hopeful and even optimistic about what a Trump Presidency portends for the days ahead.  But with great opportunity comes great responsibility.  So as Republicans maintain control of both houses and gain the White House in January, how will they behave?  Will they move the country forward in a manner that acknowledges the threat of our growing debt?  Will Republicans guide our government and nation back in the direction of fiscal solvency?  Or will their new found status in Washington reveal what they have done for too long now, campaign on grandiose promises that fall short on delivery?

Time will tell.  But one thing is for certain, the longer our fiscal cancer is ignored, the more likely the ultimate diagnosis will be one from which we may never recover.  If you care to weigh-in on this matter, be sure to let your Congressman and Senator know that you expect them to support plans that will move away from deficit spending and toward a balance budget.  While it cannot be done overnight, the road back to fiscal responsibility must begin in 2017 under a Trump administration.

Addendum:  While this article focused on the current portion of our national debt, there is a much larger amount that receives very little attention, referred to as the nation’s “unfunded liabilities.”  These amounts total in excess of $100 trillion and represent the sum of the various obligations that will come due over the next several decades, predominantly made up of Medicare and Social Security, as the demographics of our nation continue to age out and draw more heavily on these programs.  To find out more about this avalanche of debt, google “unfunded liabilities.”

Mark

Exit Your Echo Chamber To Make a Difference

Exit Your Echo Chamber To Make a Difference

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Have you ever found yourself in a deep cavern or in a valley surrounded by mountains? If so, you’ve probably played the echo game, where you shout loudly and hear your returning echo. We’ve all done it. And what we hear back is exactly what we yelled.

Nothing new. Nothing extraordinary. Just the same message we uttered moments earlier.

Imagine for a minute though that listening to your echo was the only form of communication in which you engaged. Not only would your subject matter be limited and grow redundant over time, but you would never learn anything new.  The content of your echo would be limited to the extent of your own knowledge and understanding.  Soon your mind would begin to atrophy from the lack of new knowledge or truths.  I call this the Echo Chamber syndrome.  

As I observe our society, and have pondered my own behavior at times, I have seen Echo Chambers dominating our culture, often amplified on social media.  They are formed based on one’s ideological, political or religious views.  Our nation has become so divided that we have segregated ourselves into subgroups whose values, views and perspectives are seldom at odds with our own.  

This Echo Chamber syndrome reveals several truths which are not only alarming, but are contributing to an increasingly divided and hostile culture.

1.  Echo Chambers eliminate the potential for any outside ideas or solutions.  We already know that yelling in a cavern returns the precise message as the one you uttered.  So if you’re looking for new ideas or solutions to the problems you are facing, you will get none.  Instead, the solutions within your Echo Chamber will be limited by your own ideological perspectives. Perhaps you’re ok with that, thinking that those outside your little tribe couldn’t possibly offer anything of value.  But if you possess that view, then you have just validated the next truth about Echo Chambers.

2.  Echo Chambers are elitist in nature and pose the ultimate example of arrogance and superiority.  As I’ve engaged with folks on both sides of the ideological fence, including conservatives and liberals. I’ve found that they share very similar attitudes.  First, they believe their perspectives are superior to all others.  Period.  No other view counts.  Second, folks on both sides of the ideological fence view anyone outside their belief system with skepticism and disdain.  Third, they posit that those who are outside the confines of their little chamber are inferior and not even worth getting to know.  It’s as if the other side has a contagious disease and we must not have any contact with them, at least not in the context of an engaging dialogue. But that attitude leads to the next truth about Echo Chambers.

3.  Echo Chambers reject the idea that we can “reason together” and find areas of common ground.  Individuals who spend their lives in an Echo Chamber indirectly affirm the idea that sharing time with those who have differing views is hazardous to one’s own ideology.  They believe that there is no common ground with millions of individuals on the “other side.”  Period.  So why waste one’s time even attempting to do so?  But embracing this flawed thinking leads to another sad truth of Echo Chambers.

4.  Echo Chambers discourage the forging of new relationships with those outside our little network.  If conversations foster relationships, which in turn grow trust, there is no wonder that our nation is so divided.  The mistrust is at an alarming level.  And yet, there is a rather simple solution to breaking down those walls of distrust.  Conversations.  And no I’m not talking about everyone holding hands and singing Kumbaya.  Conversations can oftentimes expose areas of absolute disagreement, but, if done in a respectful manner, simply having the dialogues can increase respect for each other.  As that occurs, relationships begin to form.  But without relationships, this next reality of an Echo Chamber, perhaps the saddest, will prevail.   

5.  Echo Chambers are completely ineffective for sharing truth to those without the truth.  If you believe you have the truth, whether it is the political ideology you embrace, or even the spiritual faith you practice, there is no greater way to hide that truth than to remain in an Echo Chamber.  Those in your little chamber already have the truth as you see it.  And so to remain in your little tribe results in many others never coming to know the truth.  This verse in Scripture reminds me of this reality: “No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:15)  If you want your truth to be heard, then get outside your Echo Chamber and share it with those who have yet to hear or understand it.

I can already hear some saying, “yeah but the ideas of the other side are not only wrong, they are dangerous.”  For a moment let’s assume that is correct.  The “other side” is no doubt comprised of a few leaders and many followers.  It’s likely that the leaders are incapable of changing their dogma.  But the followers are less assured and may be willing to entertain sound arguments, particularly if they are presented in a safe and engaging dialogue, that is shared within a growing relationship.  Those followers will never hear your truth if you regurgitate your message in your little Echo Chamber. 

So for the sake of expanding your understanding of truth, and your own mental growth, I encourage you to exit your Echo Chamber.  Begin making a difference by developing relationships that are based on mutual respect and honest dialogue.  As you do this, I believe it can break down the walls that have served to divide us all.  And who knows, you may even find that your perspectives were not so flawless after all.

Mark

The Drought Offers Common Ground: #PrayForRain

The Drought Offers Common Ground: #PrayForRain

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Photo credit: Derek Daniel http://bit.ly/2fFj186

Democrats/Liberals and Republicans/Conservatives can’t seem to agree on much these days. And probably a lot of the reason for that is because we are so focused on all the things that divide us, and many of those issues are in Washington. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have served to drive a wedge further into a division that was already deep to start with.

But, I believe that a time of crisis can, or perhaps should, drive us to find what unites us, rather than belaboring what divides us.

There is a dire crisis our community is facing. It is a crisis of rain, or lack thereof. We are facing one of the worst drought in years. This is a crisis that affects us all.  

Black. White. Democrat. Republican. Woman. Man. Rich. Poor. Gay. Straight.  

It matters not who you are, where you live, or the balance in your bank account. While Obama winds down, Trump revs up, and Hillary moves on, we have an urgent need for rain in our region.

So in this time of crisis, where neighbors’ properties are consumed, health is impacted, agriculture and farming are threatened, and first responders are working feverishly, can we as a community draw together? Can we begin to call out to God? Can we reach out to our friends, neighbors and co-workers, regardless of our backgrounds or political views, and drop to our knees, bow our heads and #PrayForRain?

Can we focus on that which we agree? Can we as Chattanoogans (or whatever town you live in) come together on this issue? Can you imagine if we all began doing this as a community? Singularly, then in small groups, in our churches, and perhaps even across our entire community? What if our elected officials, on both sides of the aisles, came together to pray? What if pastors of all denominations, including the black and white community, united in prayer? What if corporate executives and front line workers began to pray together? What if those neighborhoods that are being shattered with violence came together to pray? What if broken families were reunited in prayer?

What if we are experiencing this drought to unite us in prayer? To turn our hearts and minds back to God. To seek God’s forgiveness where we have failed Him. To find God’s strength and direction to move forward. To break down the walls that have divided us for too long.

If so, then what could we expect, if we turn to God in prayer?

Perhaps we could see God smile as we work to unite versus remaining so divided. And perhaps God’s pleasure might be revealed as His tears of joy flowed down in showers of blessings.

I am reminded that God said in Psalm 133, “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” And just two verses later in the same passage we read this relevant description of unity: “It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion.”

Do we want unity that is like dew in this time of drought?  

Then why don’t we as a community draw together in unity to #PrayForRain?  

And as we do, perhaps the unity that so many of us seek will be revealed as we see God work in a mighty and powerful way, because we know that #PrayerChangesThings

Will you join me?

If so, then begin praying, and inviting others to join you. And share this article with others, using the hash tag #PrayForRain, as we acknowledge God’s omnipotence and seek His forgiveness and blessings in our community.

Mark

Photo credit:  Derek Daniel:  http://bit.ly/2fFj186
If You Reject Hillary & Trump Here are Some Options

If You Reject Hillary & Trump Here are Some Options

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In my post earlier this week, I attempted to make the case for what happens when one votes for the lesser evil and how that ultimately results in a continued race to the bottom of the barrel.  If this year’s election proves anything, it should affirm that truth, with a couple of candidates who may be amongst the most depraved and immoral ones in our nation’s history. 

In the same article, I also attempted to lay the groundwork for why the Bible affirms that when confronted with evil, of any kind or in any setting, the Christian is called to reject it, have no fellowship with it, and to even expose it.  I often hear the response, “well, we’re not electing a pastor in chief” to which I respond, “ok, but where in scripture does it limit our rejection of evil to simply when we are selecting a pastor?

That said, if you’re reading this post, then I assume you may either 1) be curious about more of my rants and ramblings,  2) you truly are interested in exploring your options because you find both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton unfit to serve as President of the United States, or 3) you want to see just how crazy I am.

Consider these statistics about the feelings of Americans:

  • 57% of Americans believe a 3rd Party is needed (up from 46% in 2012) and 51% of Republicans agree, according to Gallup.
  • 33% of Americans believe Hillary Clinton would be a good/great President while 25% believe the same about Donald Trump.  Gallup
  • Trust in political leaders is at an all time low, with just 42% of Americans having a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust.  Gallup

Given these numbers, it’s highly likely that we will see a record number of voters either stay home, vote only the down ballot, or vote third party or independent.  

So in the chart at the bottom of this post, I have attempted to layout just a few of the other “credible” alternatives that are available for those interested.   While I started with a larger slate, as I continued my research I narrowed it greatly.  I have presented the positions on key issues from these final candidates primarily from their websites and/or platforms.  But in a case or two I have gone to the internet to quote their positions from interviews they have given.  If you want to see the more than 400 Presidential candidates, you can find them here.  

Wasting Your Vote

I am told by some that voting for a candidate other than the Republican or Democrat means you just wasted your vote.  There are several responses to that perspective but first, if you follow that logic, then voting for any loser was a wasted vote.  So if my vote for a candidate who did not win is a waste, then it must stand to reason if you vote for Trump and he loses then your vote is a waste as well.  Furthermore, under that line of reasoning, if you voted for Romney four years ago, or even your local dog catcher (if he lost), you wasted your vote as well.  That hardly makes sense. 

I would never assert your vote is a waste, regardless of who you voted for.  I may disagree, but it’s rather presumptuous of me to assert that your vote, cast from your personal values and beliefs, is a waste.  That’s the height of mocking and belittling someone’s deeply held convictions and a very arrogant attitude to assert that someone else must vote as you believe.  In fact, it may border on the kind of elections that Saddam Hussein would have expected you to participate in.  Vote as he demands or else!

But let me move to a different angle.  While as Americans we are conditioned to win, voting should not be about just winning.  Fundamentally it should be about expressing your values.  Where those values can align with a candidate and actually win, that is the best outcome for you and your values.  But when one wholeheartedly sacrifices those values, particularly when those values are deep, fundamental and non-negotiable, one’s character is diminished, and ultimately the character of the nation devolves.  Many of our founding fathers spoke about voting and I think their views are worth being reminded of.  I’ve included a few below:

Founding Fathers on Voting

Noah Webster

In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate.  Look to his character. When a citizen gives his suffrage [vote] to a man of known immorality he abuses his trust; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country.”

Samuel Adams

Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.

Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable characters. The public cannot be too curious concerning the character of public men.

John Witherspoon

Those who wish well to the State ought to choose to places of trust men of inward principle, justified by exemplary conversation. . . .And the people in general ought to have regard to the moral character of those whom they invest with authority either in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches.

James Garfield

Now more than ever the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. . . . If the next centennial does not find us a great nation . . . it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.

Frederick Douglass

I have one great political idea. .  .  That idea is an old one. It is widely and generally assented to; nevertheless, it is very generally trampled upon and disregarded. The best expression of it, I have found in the Bible. It is in substance, “Righteousness exalteth a nation; sin is a reproach to any people” [Proverbs 14:34]. This constitutes my politics – the negative and positive of my politics, and the whole of my politics. . . . I feel it my duty to do all in my power to infuse this idea into the public mind, that it may speedily be recognized and practiced upon by our people.

What’s at Stake

I am fully aware of what is at stake in this election.  As someone who has been on the front lines of the battle for our Constitutional Republic politically and culturally for the last decade, I can recite very succinctly the threats that are posed to you, me and our nation.  The loss of religious liberty.  The loss of the second amendment.  The loss of free speech.  The further encroachment on civil liberties and property rights. The increasing attack on Life and Marriage.  The further opening of our borders and national sovereignty.  Increasing terrorism.  And more and more.  

Yes, our nation hangs in the balance.  But as bad as that is, or perhaps because it is so bad, I must turn to God and His Word for instruction and direction.  And if one is willing to study, search and dig, it’s not only amazing, but encouraging to find how much is in the Word of God that speaks to the very issues we are facing.  Truthfully, doing so will give you peace in the midst of this Cat 4 storm we appear to be in.

One story in the Old Testament stands out in particular, that is no doubt familiar to you.  Recall the three Hebrew young men, millennials perhaps, living in the Babylonian empire as captives.  They were faced with a dire choice.  That choice was not on par with losing their right to bear arms, or their freedom of speech, or even simply religious liberty.  It was actually much, much worse.  They were threatened with the loss of their very lives in a fiery furnace if they refused to obey the king.  And yet, read their response:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

While these exemplary young men knew their God could save them, they also understood He might not.  But they trusted Him with their lives nonetheless.  And God delivered them.

So this is the question I ponder:  Is it to much for me to do something lesser and trust God with my nation? 

Biblical References

Let me close with some references from the ultimate source for me, God’s Word.  For right or wrong, my default is to seek God’s views on all matters of life. Given that He created it all, and we are navigating through His world, I subscribe to the notion that one should look to the owners manual for instruction.  For me, that owners manual is the Bible.  As you read the passages below, I encourage you to continue to seek God in prayer, asking Him to make your decision clear.  He promises to do so, if we will ask, and when He does, you will gain a supernatural peace.

“Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness…”  Exodus 18:21

“And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.”  Daniel 2:21

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  John 14:27

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 6:12

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, have a form of godliness but denying its power.  And from such people turn away!  2 Peter 3:1-5

“Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”  I Thessalonians 5:21-22

“And why not say, Let us do evil that good may come?”  Romans 3:8

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  I Corinthians 10:31

“The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”  Proverbs 29:25

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

My Vote

I have had a number of readers ask me about who I plan to vote for so I will share that openly.  While I am in agreement with many of the positions for each of the candidates below, I have some non-negotiable values as well.  And given those non-negotiables, two of the candidates disqualified themselves for me.  So the individual I plan to cast my vote for, barring any other “new information” that might come to light, is Darrell Castle with the Constitution Party.  The Party’s website is extensive with a strong and very detailed description of their views on all of the salient issues of our day.  And while there are a couple I may not agree with wholeheartedly, on the fundamentals for me, the Constitution Party is solid.  (In Tennessee where I live I will have to write-in the name Darrell Castle as may be the case in your state as well.)

Finally, consider the down ballot as you go to the polls, regardless of your Presidential pick.  At the end of the day, the many lesser positions can have a profound impact on our lives as well, particularly in your local community.  So I encourage you to apply the same standard to those other choices as you diligently and prayerfully make your selections.

As indicated in my previous article, I welcome your thoughts, critiques, and feedback. This continues to be a learning and growth process for me so your perspective is always valued and respected.

Mark

NOTE:  Chart below works best on computer or to view on your phone click here.

As Trumpism Replaces Conservatism: Is the Party Over?

As Trumpism Replaces Conservatism: Is the Party Over?

Trumpism Replaces Conservatism

It was Tuesday, Day 2, of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, OH.  I was sitting comfortably in the middle section of the arena directly in front of the podium.  Chris Cox, a representative from the National Rifle Association, had just stepped up to speak to the crowd of delegates, activists and media.  As Cox began his speech and stated, “You have to be able to protect yourself and your family…” I found myself being distracted by the fellow sitting next to me.  

Could it be?  Was the guy actually booing? 

My attention turned from Mr. Cox’ speech to the grumblings of the guy next to me.  I couldn’t contain myself any longer.  In disbelief, I asked the 40+ year old fellow:  “Are you a Republican?” No answer.

So I asked him again, “Are you a Republican?”  Rather than answer, the fellow rattled off, “The Second Amendment isn’t about self defense.  There are way too many guns in our nation.  Guns are too readily available.  Besides, guns don’t really offer protection for people at home.”

Wow!  It’s normal to hear those talking points and attacks on the Second Amendment from Democrats. Or Black Lives Matter.  Or CNN.  Or Barack Obama.  Or Hillary Clinton.

But at the Republican National Convention, the gathering that theoretically represents the heart of the GOP?  I did not expect to hear people booing when a speaker was endorsing the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.  Yet there he was, this guy named Bill.  Right beside me.  And Bill’s entourage included eight other individuals.

I politely asked Bill if I could ask him a few questions since I was puzzled over his response to the Second Amendment. He said sure.  I told him I had been a long time conservative activist so I was curious to get his thoughts on some issues.

“Do you mind me asking who you voted for the last two Presidential elections?” I asked.

Bill replied, “Obama in 2008.  And f***ing Obama again last election.”

I followed up, “What state are you from and have you ever voted Republican?”

“I’m from Maine and no, I’ve never voted Republican before,”  Bill acknowledged.

“So why are you here?  Are you supporting Trump?  If so, why?”  I inquired.

Bill continued, “Well, I’m fed up with Obama, and Hillary is crap.  I like what Trump is saying and so that’s why I’m here and supporting him.”

I shared with Bill that some had suggested that while the Republican Party was attracting new voters into the fold, many of them did not share the fundamental, core values of the Party and that it sounded like he was one of them.  He agreed that he fit that characterization.  

Our conversation was cut short because one of Bill’s buddies interrupted and Bill went over to talk with him.  But this brief exchange affirmed to me exactly what I and many other conservatives had warned of and read about. 

The party of Lincoln and Reagan now cares little about Republican values, and more about votes. 

Many of the new voters are ones who do not affirm the historical principles of the GOP, such as the Second Amendment, Religious Liberty, Traditional Marriage, Free Markets, Right to Life, Freedom, Respect for Constitution and more.  In fact, one article calculated that as many as 12 million Democrats had voted in the Republican primaries.  

While any political party must be able to appeal to a myriad of voters, it should seek those voters based on the soundness and superiority of its message.  For the GOP, that message has historically been one of conservatism.  But in 2016, the GOP has clearly chosen to sacrifice conservatism on the altar of Trumpism, refusing to stand on principle and thus falling for whatever meets the voters fancy.  

In contradiction to this assertion, some will proudly point to the Republican Platform as one of the most conservative-friendly platforms in years.  Yet, platform principles mean nothing if they are not respected and followed.  Claiming to be a Christian means little if one does not seek to align his life with the Christian “platform” we call the Holy Bible.  Likewise, given the fact that Republican elected officials have ignored the GOP Platform for decades, it stands to reason that the Platform is merely for show and will have little if any bearing on the future behavior of the party and its nominee for POTUS, particularly considering that the nominee’s own track record is at odds with the Platform.

In a recent article by Ben Shapiro, he offered this analysis:

Trump’s new Republican Party has nothing to do with the Constitution or conservatism – he mentioned the Constitution one time this week, conservatism zero times, freedom one time, liberty zero times, the unborn zero times, God zero times, and himself some 83 times. As he said, America is broken and “I alone can fix it.”

Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, recently stated that Trump “has changed the face of the Republican party.”  Never truer words were spoken.  That face no longer resembles the party of Lincoln or Reagan.  It’s conservative heart has been ripped from its core and in its place, a new heart has been transplanted, whose guiding value is revealed in one of Trump’s most famous quotes:  “We’re gonna win and we’re gonna win big!”  Principles, truth, virtue no longer matter.  Conservatism is a thing of the past.  Winning is all that matters.

But when winning becomes the sole objective, one has already lost. 

So as we witness the unraveling of the Grand Old Party, we should brace ourselves for the shredding of the red, white and blue and the coming loss of Liberty.  For in the words of Founding Father Benjamin Rush, “Without virtue there can be no liberty.”

Mark
Photo credit:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_gatordawg’>gatordawg / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
How the GOP’s Compromise led to Donald Trump

How the GOP’s Compromise led to Donald Trump

How the GOP's Compromise led to Donald Trump

Imagine a doctor who compromises the proven cure for an illness.    Or a financial advisor who compromises a sure investment.  Or a pilot who compromises the correct course heading.  Or a Mt. Everest climber who compromises the proper amount of oxygen needed to scale the summit.  Or a political party that compromises the very principles and values that built a great nation.  

Compromise, when resorted to in the wrong scenarios, can have disastrous consequences. 

Perhaps the only thing worse than being sincerely wrong is being willing to compromise the truth by diluting it with a lie. 

The art of compromise is one that is an integral part of business, politics, relationships and more.  It is typically employed when two parties hold opposing views and are at an impasse.  And if compromise does not sacrifice truth or principle, then it can be a worthwhile strategy to advance one’s goals.

But when compromise involves abandoning one’s principles and truth, then it will certainly lead to failure and ultimate loss. 

The GOP’s history of diluting and compromising its core principles over the last several decades has led directly to the rise of Donald Trump.  As a result, Republicans are now being represented and led by a man who:

  • Is an open and unapologetic serial adulterer, even boasting of his numerous and lurid escapades with “top women of the world.”
  • Is well known for his willingness to verbally assault anyone that might pose a threat to him or that he simply desires to ridicule or mock.  It matters not whether the person is an invalid, a woman that doesn’t measure up to his perfect 10 scoring, or a hundred other childish, misogynist or bigoted reasons.
  • Routinely encourages violence against those who disagree with him.
  • Uses mean-spirited racial slurs and disparages various ethnic and religious minorities.
  • Values his own personal ambition, fame and wealth above most anything else. 
  • Affirms that America is not an exceptional nation, and he actually has never liked such a designation. 
  • Has never asked God for forgiveness and does not even see the need for such. 
  • Believes Planned Parenthood does good work. 
  • Would order the military to kill the wives and children of terrorists.
  • Supported a ban on “assault weapons.”
  • Has sided with the strong-arm tactics of government over the personal property rights of individuals.
  • Is a big government crony capitalist, doling our millions to politicians, in order to buy personal & business favors.
  • Is a serial liar, personally, professionally and politically. 
  • Advocated for universal healthcare. 
  • Supported partial birth abortion. 
  • Welcomed Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner to use the women’s restroom in Trump Tower.
  • Criticized the North Carolina “bathroom bill” and suggested that people should “use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate.”

The Republican Platform over the years, including in 2012, has been a manuscript that promoted not only our nation’s founding principles but it affirmed the values that have been synonymous with conservatives.  But it’s one thing to enumerate a set of principles via a manuscript and yet another to put those principles into action.  Sadly we have witnessed too many Republican leaders willingly compromise our founding principles, to the detriment of the party and the nation.

There are times when a person’s commitment to truth or principle requires personal sacrifice.  In some instances that sacrifice may even cost great loss.  We can look to our history to see great examples of men and women who were willing to sacrifice fame and fortune rather than compromise.  One of Tennessee’s great heroes, Davy Crockett, is one such example.  Despite facing certain death, Crockett came to the aide of his newly adopted Texas brothers at the Alamo and lost his life doing so.  But in that final act, Davy epitomized the spirit he had chosen to live by: Be always sure you’re right. Then go ahead!

President John F. Kennedy famously once said, “Sometimes party loyalty asks too much.”  When such loyalty demands the compromise of truth and principle, that loyalty must not only be abandoned, but it must be exposed for the failure it most certainly will cause.

 

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” John Adams, founding father.

Truth has stumbled in the streets.”  (Isaiah 59:14)

 

Mark