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When Memes Become Our Theology

When Memes Become Our Theology

Social media and memes.  They seem to be made for each other.  If you’re looking for laughs, they often give great comic relief, particularly in this difficult time we are facing.   

But as I’ve seen many of the memes that regularly get posted and shared, I felt compelled to share a few thoughts.  This is the main one: 

🔊“Never get your theology from memes.” 

Typically memes are short, to the point statements that, on the surface, may seem to encapsulate a current issue, and they claim to shed some grander truth about the issue at hand.   

There’s an old saying though that stated “inquiring minds want to know…” But there’s a deeper truth, that Jesus reminded us of, and that we should consider particularly when memes are involved: 

💡“Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” John 7:24 

With this in mind, there is a meme that is making its way around social media this week.  Yesterday a pastor in Florida was arrested because he chose to assemble his congregation, in spite of precautionary health advisories by the local governing authorities.  Without arguing the merits of the case that he will be mounting with the help of Liberty Counsel, I’d like to share some thoughts from the Bible, versus the Constitution. 

The meme here would seem to correlate the “assembling” that occurs at Walmart, where people are buying food and supplies, with the “assembling” at church.  I would suggest though that conflating these two examples is like comparing apples with planets (versus oranges).

Walmart and such establishments are physical buildings that house physical products that we must all have to function physically.  Without securing these products, at some point we will die physically. 

But the building in this meme, while depicting a church, is not THE church.  Rather, it’s just a building.  The Bible, from where our theology should flow, is very clear that we should “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” But the church is not a place or a building, rather it is the body of believers in Christ, locally as well as all over the world.  Assembling can occur in many different manners and sizes.  This has been the case since the book of Acts, when the first assembly of believers began.  And to this day, believers in nations all over the world, are sometime forced to meet even secretly, in their homes, for fear of death or persecution.   

But there’s another aspect to this meme that I believe flows from the spirit that is implanted within the DNA of most Americans.  It is the spirit that asserts our rights above all else, and the attitude of ”no one is ever going to deprive me as an American of my rights.” But is this the “right” attitude to have about rights, if you and I are followers of Jesus?  Are we first Americans, or is our citizenship a heavenly one, that should shape and guide all of our responses? 

To answer that question we should look to the one we claim to follow:  Jesus.  His example, and the examples of the “founding fathers” of our faith, the 12 Apostles, reveal a very different attitude about rights than the one that Americans consistently demonstrate, including my own.   

We demand.  They gave up. 

We complain.  They gave thanks. 

We gripe.  They praised God. 

We protest.  They accepted. 

We resist.  They submitted. 

We live.  They died. 

To be clear, I am not suggesting that there is not a place for organizations like Liberty Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, and others, to pursue justice in our courts.  I know the men who lead these organizations, and they are good men, and followers of Jesus.  From a purely American Constitutional standpoint I’m sure that Liberty Counsel will represent their client well and will insure the pastor’s constitutional rights are followed. 

But there is a difference between an organization appealing to an earthly judge, to enforce the laws of the land, and appealing to The Supreme Judge of the universe to protect and sustain us.  The Apostle Paul was beaten many, many times, and once he actually asserted his Roman citizenship to avoid an unjust beating.  But besides Paul’s limited example, we see Jesus, and the twelve apostles consistently and repeatedly giving up their rights, submitting to an evil governmental system, and in every instance, except for the Apostle John, they all were executed for their faith. 

Americans are big on rights, demanding everything enumerated in the Bill of Rights and more. But true Christianity is about giving up one’s rights. And it’s also about loving our neighbors. When we irresponsibly gather in large groups, we place others, including our neighbors, at risk. 

It seems this is an opportunity for the church to humble itself, pray, confess, and serve, not rise up, gripe, complain, and demand. 

So I’m less concerned personally about demanding rights, that we can voluntarily relinquish as our spiritual forefathers did, than I am about the church not suffering a black eye as we attempt to be the light in this present darkness. 

My point is we are missing the big point of what is going on, in my view, if we simply focus on demanding a “right.”  What if we responded like Daniel when his government demanded that he stop praying to God and that he could only offer prayers to the king?  Daniel simply went home, without griping and complaining, he opened his window, and kneeled in humility to God and began to pray. No building. No congregation. Just Daniel and God. 

Let’s be like Daniel in the midst of the greatest crisis of most of our lifetimes.  Let’s be like the Apostles, who submitted themselves to a cruel and evil system, that ultimately took their lives.  And let’s be like Jesus, who we are told: 

💡“He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.” 1 Peter 2:23 

And then let’s follow Solomon in doing what he suggested His people should do when they found themselves in the midst of a calamity: 

💡“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 

The Impact of Broken Families on our Economy

The Impact of Broken Families on our Economy

If you’re 50 years old or older, you might remember an era when Home Economics class was a normal part of school curriculum. While boys were attending Shop Class, the girls were busy in Home Ec, learning about sewing and cooking. It was good practical info that many girls used later in life as they began their own families.  

Today though, the term Home Economics has a very different meaning, as presented in the book,Home Economics: The Consequences of Changing Family Structure by Nick Schulz.  In the book, Schulz lays out a detailed and documented analysis of the deterioration of the American family over the last five decades.  The statistics are not only alarming but undoubtedly have contributed to much of the social breakdown we have seen in our nation since 1960, as well as rising government budgets.

Consider these troubling statistics, comparing 1960 to today, which sadly, in every instance, represent human lives:

*  Fewer people are marrying.
*  Those who do marry will marry later and divorce more frequently
*  Births to unmarried mothers have climbed dramatically. In 1960 they were just 5%. Today the number exceeds 40%. And in the black community, out of wedlock births account for 70% of all newborns.
*  The percent of children raised by single parents in 1960 was 9%; today it is more than 25%.
*  Married family households earn 40% more than single parent households.
*  Only 5% of married family households are considered poor vs 30% for single parent households.
*  Poor children are two times as likely to climb the economic ladder if their parents are continuously married versus the children of broken or single parent homes.
*  According to the Brookings Institute, if young people finish high school, get a job, and marry before having children, their chance at landing in poverty is only 2%.  But if these factors are not in place, three-fourths of young people will enter poverty.

Of course, politicians, social scientists, and many media pundits can quote these statistics at length.  But the problem isn’t knowing these numbers, but rather quantifying them, and then identifying real solutions to address this undeniable national crisis.

AMERICA’S FOUNDATION

As we think about our nation’s abundance, and the extraordinary success we have had over our 200+ year history, there is little doubt that our Constitution and Declaration of Independence, extraordinary documents, contributed to our nation’s greatness. But I would suggest that they do not singularly account for our exceptionalism.  

Foundational to these two documents was our Judeo-Christian values, and in particular the Family — an institution that undergirds any thriving society.  

Recall that “In the beginning…” when God created the heavens and earth, He created man and woman, and He told them to be fruitful, multiply, and become one flesh.  And several thousand years later, Jesus, the Creator, entered our world as Jesus, the Redeemer, and He affirmed the institution of the Family when He shared these words, in Matthew 19:4-9:

“And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

So God established marriage and the family, consisting of one man plus one woman and their children (which sadly today we must now define what a family is).  In addition to the Family, God also ordained the Government & Church.  But the fundamental building block of any society and nation is the Family.  Because of this, we  can conclude that “as the family goes, so goes the nation,” establishing a correlation between the strength of the family and the strength of a nation’s economy.

FISCAL IMPACT

There are two numbers that create a direct correlation between the decline of the family and our nation’s fiscal woes.  They are:

$757,000,000
$112,000,000,000

These two numbers come directly from a study entitled “The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing” that was issued in 2008 using data from 2006.  That report, conservative in its estimates, found that the cost of family fragmentation for ONE YEAR in Tennessee was $757 million and nationally was $112 billion. Even using these 10 year old numbers, we can calculate a 10 year cost to taxpayers of over $1 trillion for family fragmentation in America.  

Are you shocked? Don’t be. Note this quote from the report that attempts to identify the far reaching impact of a broken home:

“Divorce and unwed childbearing create substantial public costs, paid by taxpayers. Higher rates of crime, drug abuse, education failure, chronic illness, child abuse, domestic violence, and poverty among both adults and children bring with them higher taxpayer costs in diverse forms: more welfare expenditure; increased remedial and special education expenses; higher day-care subsidies; additional child-support collection costs; a range of increased direct court administration costs incurred in regulating post-divorce or unwed families; higher foster care and child protection services; increased Medicaid and Medicare costs; increasingly expensive and harsh crime-control measures to compensate for formerly private regulation of adolescent and young-adult behaviors; and many other similar costs.”

As I was doing some research on this topic, I came across a statement from former Hamilton County Sessions Court Judge, the late Bob Moon (in Chattanooga, TN).  Note his highly relevant remarks from several years ago:

 Government will never solve the inner origins of crime, or gangs or reverse the complex origins of the problems. The primary source of the problems is the family and inside the homes where government cannot go or control without a search warrant or responding to a crime after the fact.  In fact, the closest that government usually gets inside of the home for assistance is a sustenance check or food stamps in the mailbox.

Government can do some things and some programs are commendable, but in the big picture, gangs and juvenile violence can only be reduced by committed and responsible parents, teachers and our community working consistently together.  

The focus should not be just on money, programs, gang czars, summits and speeches.  The focus should be the one that mothers, fathers, teachers and community leaders should be placing on themselves individually.

Marcus Aurelius succinctly stated that “All great nations fall from within before they fall from without.

FAILED PROGRAMS

In the past, our ancestors utilized various ineffective approaches to treat diseases and injuries. In particular, blood-letting used to be a common medical practice. The idea was that by cutting a patient and releasing amounts of their blood they could heal the individual, believing they were “bleeding” a person to health. But after 2,000 years, the practice of blood-letting was finally abandoned. It likely killed many more patients than it ever healed.  Yet, it was the commonly accepted practice.

Fast forward to 2017. For over 50 years now, we have seen the American family continue to decline while rates continue to skyrocket for births out of wedlock, percent of children in single homes, percent of children in poverty, divorce rates and more. Yet, bureaucrats, social scientists and entire political parties, believe government programs can fix the problem. But these programs seldom if ever focus on the root of the problem.  Instead they seek to put a bandaid on a festering wound.  

It’s time to try something new rather than continuing to bleed red ink in our state and federal budgets. Taxpayers have a right, and an obligation, to weigh in on family policies since they are footing the bill to the tune of a Trillion Dollars per decade when marriages fail.

So what should our response be? Should we only be concerned with this issue because it affects our wallet via our taxes?  Or are there bigger reasons to motivate us?  Can we reverse the dangerous and destructive trend that we are seeing as it relates to the Family in America?

SOLUTIONS

I think so and here are just a few quick ideas.  While they may seem small, remember that every structure is built upon a solid foundation that is made up of individual bricks.  And there is not one of those bricks that is not important.  So consider these ideas:

Marriage —  Is your marriage strong and will you commit to keeping it strong? When you said your vows, “in sickness or health, for better or worse, ’til death do us part” did you mean them? Will you vow to never abandon your marriage… and children?  Will you allow your marriage to demonstrate to others what the family should look like… and what Christ can do in your relationship if you are a Christian?

Encourage others in their marriages.  Come alongside other couples, particularly if they are young and struggling. Show them the way to work through the bumps that we all have along the way.

Don’t buy into the false narrative that the family doesn’t impact our economy.  The fact is, our families drive our economy. Broken families equal a broken economy. Be willing to speak out when the opportunity arises.  

Embrace programs that are really making a difference in the inner city, where the marital statistics are at a red-alert level. One such program in Chattanooga is the Y-Cap program, that my friend Joe Smith and his son Andy have given thousands of hours to.  Their inner city boxing program comes alongside the most vulnerable children and broken homes to provide tutoring, mentoring and life skills.  Additionally, they train young boys in the art of boxing.  In fact, one of their shining examples, Ryan Martin, just fought his first fight in Madison Square Gardens on HBO last week and successfully defended his WBC Continental Americas title.  And he credits Joe and Andy Smith for much of his success. This is the kind of program that truly makes a difference in the lives of boys and girls who are otherwise destined for a life of poverty and likely crime.

Be willing to educate your friends and family on the two numbers that were shared in this article, since they likely have no clue about the dramatic costs of broken families on our budgets:
     $757 million: the annual cost of family fragmentation in Tennessee
     $112 billion:  the annual cost of family fragmentation in America

Challenge your church to step up to support the family, particularly broken ones.  Too often government will assume what the church has abandoned.  And for many years, the role of the church, as pointed out in James 1:27 has been lost: “to visit orphans and widows in their trouble.”  We have an epidemic of orphans and widows, via our single-parent homes where daddy has gone AWOL.  Sadly the church has gone AWOL as well.  So are we surprised that big government is waiting to step in with their big government programs, that are certainly capable of running up a big tab, but are incapable of producing permanent good results?

Remember, government is seldom neutral.  If it is, it won’t be for long.  So government is fully engaged in this issue.  But do they have the solution?  My belief is they do not.  So unless you speak up, the failed solutions of the last decades will continue to be the failed ones of the future.

Ultimately, there is no political solution for a spiritual problem.  And this is at the heart of this issue.  What God created as a spiritual union, cannot be replaced with government programs.  So the only genuine solution will occur when we see hearts transformed in America.  And as they are, and they are turned back to God, only then will we see the family restored, and our nation made great again.

“If the foundations are destroyed…”

Civil Asset Forfeiture: Policing for Profit

Civil Asset Forfeiture: Policing for Profit

Imagine for a moment you are driving down the highway on your way to purchase a car in a town half-way across the state.  You are excited to pickup the slightly used, sporty convertible for your spouse as a birthday gift.  Because it’s a weekend, banks are not open, so you are carrying a substantial amount of cash to be able to pay for the car on the spot.  It’s the only way you can take the title for the car with you when you purchase it.  

All of a sudden you see blue lights in your mirror.  You had your cruise set on the speed limit of the rental car you’re driving, but even so, your pulse quickens. You know you are doing nothing illegal, but just being pulled over causes you some anxiety.

As you pull to a stop, the officer exits his car and approaches your vehicle.  He asks for your drivers license and registration.  You provide your license and the paperwork for the rental car.  (You planned to drop off the rental car in the town where you’ll pick up the convertible.)  As the officer returns to his car, you’re uncertain why you were pulled over.  Unbeknownst to you though, apparently your vehicle marks the description of an alleged drug dealers car about which the police received a tip.  But they have mistaken you for him.  

When the officer returns, he asks you if you have any large amounts of cash in your car.  Being honest, you acknowledge you do.  He then asks you to exit the car and begins to search the car.  Upon spotting the cash in the middle console of the rental car, he takes possession of the cash and all of a sudden, what was to be an exciting afternoon of driving a convertible back on a sunny, mild spring day has become your worst nightmare.  There will be no convertible in your future this day.  And the large amount of cash you were carrying has been confiscated.  Who knows whether you’ll ever get it back.   A scenario very similar to this occurred right here in Tennessee as reported in this short investigative video.

Civil Asset Forfeiture (CAF), also known as “policing for profit” is an unconstitutional scheme that allows police to seize assets that they allege were involved in a crime and then keep or sell those assets.  The owners may or may not be charged with a crime themselves but their assets can be retained by the police.  The state of Tennessee has sanctioned this unconstitutional activity and some police officers (not all) are abusing this “legal” practice.  Regardless of their motivation though, it’s something that should change.   

CAF allows law enforcement agencies to confiscate private property from unsuspecting citizens on just the mere suspicion that a crime has been committed. That agency then uses the confiscated money or property to supplement their department’s budget.  An officer doesn’t need to write a ticket or arrest the subject, and the accusation doesn’t have to be specific.  All the officer needs to do is give the subject a receipt for the confiscated property to comply with state law.  If the citizen resists the confiscation of his property, the officer can then arrest him and take him to jail, for resisting a peace officer.

Simply put, the officer can make an on-the-spot personal decision that whatever a citizen has in his possession was obtained from the commission of a crime. For instance, if a young man with long hair is driving a new Lexus, the officer can confiscate the vehicle if he merely thinks the car was purchased with drug money. No proof is needed, and the victim will never be arrested or prosecuted, let alone convicted of a crime. That citizen will simply lose his property. Being innocent until proven guilty is turned upside down with CAF.

Sadly, I’m not describing Nazi Germany, but rather it’s happening today in America as reviewed in this article from Institute for Justice. (By the way, Trump’s new Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a full supporter of CAF as a tool for fighting drug trafficking.)  The problem is, there has never been a distinction made between innocent civilians and drug traffickers, and CAF makes no allowance for Due Process as guaranteed by our Constitution.

This abuse of power has been going on for quite some time. It is a flagrant violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and Tennessee is among the worst abusers of this tactic as revealed in this article “Police Officer Pockets $6,000 From People Who Had Their Cars Taken Through Forfeiture.”  Although this practice has been used for some time under the guise of fighting drug traffic, there has not been a serious effort to put an end to it.  

Until Now.  Thankfully, there is a bill in the Tennessee state legislature that seeks to address this abusive practice.  

Tennessee HB0421 and SB316 have been introduced by Representative Martin Daniel and Senator Todd Gardenhire respectively.  The bills are an effort to end this unconstitutional practice.  (The bill summary is below.) The House Bill is due to be heard in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee on March 1st.  It’s well known that law enforcement will have a heavy presence at the hearing in an attempt to defeat Daniel’s bill.  It is important to offset their influence before the committee convenes.

The six video links below, each about six to nine minutes long, are the result of a multi-year investigation by Channel 5 from Nashville. Watch them and you’ll see senior Tennessee law enforcement officers, including a District Attorney, justify the unconstitutional practice of CAF.  A warning though, these videos may make your blood boil.

Below the video links is a list of the Tennessee House Civil Justice Subcommittee members, including the Chair.  If you live in Tennessee, please make a quick phone call to each member and simply ask them to Support HB0421.  And if you can also send an email, asking them to do the same, that would also be helpful.  These committee members need to hear from you and me.  (If you don’t live in Tennessee, I would encourage you to do some research to determine where your state stands on CAF.)

Without hearing from citizens, our legislators will assume that voters approve of law enforcement’s practice of unconstitutionally confiscating private property.

There is an effort to travel to Nashville March 1st to attend the Committee hearing. If you would like to go, please let me know and I’ll provide you with more info.

Nashville Channel 5 Investigative Videos:

NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Policing for Profit (2014) – Part 1

NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Policing for Profit (2014) – Part 2

NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Policing for Profit (2014) – Part 3

NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Policing for Profit (2014) – Part 4

NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Policing for Profit (2014) – Part 5

NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Policing for Profit (2014) – Part 6


HB0421 Summary: Forfeiture of Assets

As introduced, establishes a new procedure for the seizure and forfeiture of assets as the result of criminal activity; requires conviction for the underlying criminal conviction before forfeiture can occur; requires clear and convincing evidence that the property is subject to forfeiture; and provides that all forfeited or abandoned money be deposited in state general fund and all property forfeitures be sold and the proceeds go into state general fund. – Amends TCA Title 39; Title 40; Title 53 and Title 55.


Civil Justice Subcommittee

Chair- Mike Carter
Republican
Phone: (615) 741-3025
Email- [email protected]

Glen Casada
Republican
Phone: (615) 741-4389
Email- [email protected]

Andrew Farmer
Republican
Phone: (615) 741-4419
Email- [email protected]

Debra Moody
Republican
Phone: (615) 741-3774
Email- [email protected]

Bill Beck
Democrat
Phone: (615) 741-3229
Email- [email protected]

G.A. Hardaway
Democrat
Phone: (615) 741-5625
Email- [email protected]


Thanks to Steve Osborne, Chairman of the Sevier County Tea Party for his contribution to this article.  

A Coup d’etat by Unelected Men in Black Robes

A Coup d’etat by Unelected Men in Black Robes

 

Our nation has been deeply divided for some time and that division is growing even deeper. Much of this division has occurred because our political leaders have untethered our laws, policies and regulations from the law of the land, our Constitution.  

But as bad as this rejection of our Constitution has been by Congress and the President, We the People have still possessed the ability to hold our politicians accountable to our founding document and principles, every two or four years.

But there remain two threats to the rule of law beyond the Executive and Congressional branches.  One obvious.  Another not so.

In many banana republics around the globe, cruel and unjust dictators are oftentimes deposed via a military coup d’etat — an armed overthrow of a government.  It’s interesting to look at the meaning of this French word.  According to Wikipedia, coup d’etat is sometimes translated as “blow of the state” or “hit of state” but the literal translation is “stroke of the state” — as in the wiping or stroke of a sword.

To date our nation has never faced a military coup d’etat.  This first threat, while a potential, has never been considered a likely one in our Constitutional Republic.  

A Judicial Coup d’etat

The second threat though, is not only a real one, but this week it was realized.  No shots were fired.  No swords were drawn.  But as the definition of coup d’etat makes clear, a “blow to the state” took place when unelected citizens in black robes thumbed their nose at the Constitution and law and figuratively arrested America’s duly elected President, placing legal handcuffs on the authority he clearly possesses.  

The Ninth Circuit Federal Appeals Court circumvented well established law and precedent that affirmed the authority of President Trump, in his position as Commander in Chief, to administer the immigration laws of our land.  One such law, the Immigration and Nationality Act, states in Section 1182(f):  

“Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate” 

The net effect of the courts decision was that these three unelected judges wrestled the authority for the safety of our citizens from Trump with the stroke of a pen.  Sixty-three million citizens elected Donald Trump to protect our nation from a clear and present danger stemming from the loose and dangerous refugee immigration policies of the Obama Administration.  The danger posed by radical Islam has been unleashed time and time again in Europe and America over the last couple years.  But the court’s decision undermined a duly elected President and left him powerless, for all practical purposes.  At least for the time being. 

With the stakes growing ever higher, and the willingness by the left to embrace whatever tactic they can devise to block Republicans from governing, rest assured that nothing will be left off the table.  Whether it’s the riots and violence in the streets as I wrote about earlier this week, the abuse of long established rules in Congress, or the seizing of authority by the judicial branch that it does not possess, there will be no end to the intimidation, abuses, and other nefarious activities by Democrats and their allies.  

And it will only grow worse as unelected and unaccountable men in black establish their superior rule… from the bench.

Party, Principle or Pragmatism? What Drives the Tea Party?

Party, Principle or Pragmatism? What Drives the Tea Party?

With the inauguration of our new President just hours away, our nation is approaching new, unchartered water.  Of course, the same could be said of the era we were entering eight years ago. But just as there were troubling reasons why Obama was elected then, so there are gnawing explanations as to why Trump was elected in November.  

As George W. Bush was quick to sacrifice many of the values that historically characterized conservative orthodoxy, his popularity plummeted and contributed to the election of the most “progressive” President to ever lead our nation. And with the election of Barack Obama, the political polarization that gained steam during the Bush years skyrocketed under Obama.  

But as Republicans over the last eight years continued to say one thing and do another, particularly when they controlled both houses of Congress, voters grew more and more frustrated with the Party of Lincoln.  Consider that while there were 17 Republican candidates for President, ultimately the 16 “Party-faithful” candidates were rejected in favor of Trump, someone whose political credentials were questioned by many.  One could ask then whether the victory in November was that of a Party or a personality?  And will the coming Trump era see Party, Principle or Pragmatism prevail?

As someone who has consistently voted for Republican candidates, I have always favored principle over party.  So in 2009, as the tea party movement was launched, I took an active role, with millions of other Americans, in expressing my grievances with both parties. Since then, while certainly much of our movement’s protests were focused on Obama’s policies, a considerable amount of our ire was directed towards Republicans as well. The party of conservatism had, for the most part, lost its compass. 

But then Trump appeared.  

And everything changed…

The truth is there is little evidence that Trump is a conservative Republican, in the purest definition.  Not only does his multi-decade track record affirm this reality, but many of the policies he campaigned on are at odds with long-standing Republican positions and orthodoxy.  I won’t take the time to recite the myriad of examples but these articles here and here reference several of his most glaring departures. 

What we do know about Trump though, is that since his Presidential announcement in June 2015, the billionaire candidate attracted:  1) Republicans disgusted with the Republican Party, even though they had consistently supported the GOP, and
2) Democrats tired of the failed policies of the Democratic Party, for which they had voted for in prior elections.

So with Trump’s rise to the Presidency we witnessed a powerful new constituency, the Pragmatic voter. No longer was Party the driving factor for many. Nor was Principle the overriding variable for others. Rather, Pragmatism ruled the day. 

But with the election now over, and Trump stepping forward to lead, versus merely tweet, his words will soon morph into policies, laws and regulations. As this occurs, it will be telling to see if the millions of voters who supported Donald Trump will remain enamored, enthused and engaged.  

More specifically though, I am eager to see how tea party members will respond to our new President. As a movement that has for the most part been known for its allegiance to Principle and the Constitution, will its members continue to overlook Trump’s policies that might violate both?  Will the tea party devolve into simply a pragmatic political force?  Or will the movement that became the rallying cry and impetus for one of the greatest political victories in the modern era, embrace the spirit of the original Tea Party in 1773, standing on principle first and foremost?

On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.”  Thomas Jefferson

Is $10 Trillion in New Debt Coming as Republicans Take Control?

Is $10 Trillion in New Debt Coming as Republicans Take Control?

As Donald Trump readies to take the oath of office next week, he will not only assume charge of the most powerful nation in the world, but he will also oversee the world’s largest economy.  And Trump will be aided in his oversight of our economy by a Congress controlled by a Republican Senate and Republican House. 

It’s been ten years since our nation was led by a Republican-controlled trifecta (Presidency, Senate & House). The last time this occurred George W. Bush was President.  When the “conservative” Bush left office in 2009, with Republicans having controlled the Senate and House for half of Bush’s eight years in office, our 43rd President had doubled the national debt to just over $10 trillion with his deficit spending policies. 

Eight years later though, as Barack Obama is leaving office, our published national debt is on the verge of surpassing $20 trillion. (I say “published” debt since our unfunded liabilities exceed $100 trillion, a topic that I discussed in my previous article, American: The Point of No Return?)  If ever there was a financial house that is spinning out of control, it is ours.  

Many in America are hopeful with our new President about to take office.  Trump’s no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is attitude attracted tens of millions of voters to support him.  His willingness to say what many were thinking no doubt won him the election.  Further, Trump’s 50 year track record in business convinced many voters that he was the man to turn around our economy and create a thriving, fiscally sound America.

Donald Trump: The $10 Trillion Man?

But this last week, Senator Rand Paul took to the Senate floor to rail against his own Republican colleagues as seen in this powerful video.  According to Paul, under the plan to repeal Obamacare, Republicans will likely be voting in favor of a budget that would increase the nation’s debt by another $10 trillion over the next ten years, matching Obama’s own dismal performance.  This slide from Paul’s presentation illustrates the point the Senator was making.  

Senator Paul began his speech with the famous lines, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”  And he could not be more accurate.  For all the talk of “draining the swamp” in Washington, what may stay the same, based on Republican’s track record, is the unwillingness of Republican politicians to stem the growth of our dangerous national debt.  (To be fair, some are suggesting that this “shell” budget will be replaced with a second one in the not too distant future, which will bring spending down and ultimately balance our nation’s budget.  But that remains to be seen and should be viewed with extreme skepticism.)

Republicans were fond of lobbing threats of government shutdowns, making incessant demands for balanced budgets and excoriating Obama and Democrats for their own deficit spending during the Obama era.  And rightly so.  But now that they are in the drivers seat, is it actually possible that Republicans will do no better?  Will they maintain the fiscally ruinous course upon which our nation is set?

Where are the Tea Party & Fiscal Conservatives?

Eerily silent as the Republicans take control of Washington, are the groups that heretofore have been the voices of fiscal reason, and have historically led the way in demanding that our elected officials spend no more than they collect in revenues.  And their silence is deafening.  

The tea party movement, of which I have been an active part since its founding in 2009, all but abandoned its defense of fiscal soundness, during the general campaign in 2016.  Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s preeminent coalition of tea party members and groups, and many other conservative watchdogs, said nothing about Trump’s calamitous economic plan.  This despite the fact the new President’s plan could add up to $20 trillion to our nation’s debt, according to a recent study by Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.  Their report revealed that our nation’s federal debt would soar to $39.5 Trillion by 2026, double the current debt.  

But now the day has arrived and Donald Trump and his Republican allies have been handed Washington to them on a silver plater by frustrated and angry voters.  Those voters elected Trump because of their disdain for politicians who consistently promise one thing but deliver something altogether different.

A Call to Action

We’ve all been told, “it matters who governs.”  But it will only be true if grassroots Americans do more than simply vote.  They… or we must remain engaged.   Our voices must be heard in an unprecedented, unmistakable, and unambiguous manner!  Trump and our Senators and Representatives must know that they were not elected to maintain the fiscal status quo.  

The Tea Party, and all fiscally conservative Americans, must, like Rand Paul, call out Republicans and Donald Trump. We must warn them that they were not elected to put the final nail in our fiscal coffin.

Trump cares not about the media, the social elite, the Hollywood snobs, or the connected wealthy, as he once again reaffirmed this week in his most recent press conference and barrage of tweets.  But I do believe there is one demographic to whom Trump will listen: the grassroots, the blue collar workers, the forgotten middle class, and the traditional American, who still believe that if you work hard and play by the rules, you will be rewarded.  

So it is incumbent on you and me to reach out… once again, to an elite ruling class.  It is necessary for us to remind them that we sent them to Washington to repudiate the status quo by restoring fiscal responsibility; honoring the Constitution; and empowering the free market.  Reestablishing these three pillars, which are the core values of the tea party movement, will enable our great ship of state to slowly but surely reset its course in the direction of real prosperity, the kind that our Founding Fathers envisioned.  But as we do the work to reshape our nation, let us never forget that fiscal prosperity will only flow from men and women of decent, moral character.  And we will only “Make America Great Again” if we first Make America Good Again, as I discussed in my previous article of the same title.  

So will you join me in engaging with our elected officials?  Will you pick up the phone and call, or fire off an email to Donald Trump, your Senators & Congressman to express your views about the upcoming budget battles?  I trust you will.  (Click on the highlighted links for their contact info.)