Select Page
The Party of “Lower Taxes” Raised Taxes in Tennessee

The Party of “Lower Taxes” Raised Taxes in Tennessee

Tennessee Republicans, from the party that boasts it is for lower taxes, just raised taxes in the Volunteer state as they wound down this year’s legislative session.  The party which enjoys a dominant super majority, controlling the House, Senate and Governorship, raised the Gas Tax on every Tennessean.  Note that even if you don’t drive, the gas tax will apply to you since prices on anything delivered by trucks will most definitely increase.  And those increased transportation costs will be passed on to you, the consumer.  It’s as if legislators just pick-pocketed Tennessee taxpayers.

But here’s what’s even more astonishing about the haste by legislators to raise the gas tax.  Tennessee enjoyed a $2 Billion surplus this last budget year.  And this coming year, the state of Tennessee projects another $1 billion surplus, as well as in subsequent years.  

Because a government’s primary source of receipts is through taxes and fees, a surplus suggests that citizens are being overtaxed.  But rather than reduce the state’s tax rate, Governor Haslam and dozens of other Republicans chose to keep taxes at their current levels, thus continuing the state’s surplus.  So not only were Republicans content with overtaxing Tennesseans, but they compounded the matter by increasing the Gas Tax as well.

I have held cordial and pleasant relationships with most of my local area Republican representatives.  But being friends on a political or even social level, does not mean that one should turn a blind eye, or censor one’s comments.  The fact is that when those professing to be fiscal conservatives while campaigning, violate fiscal conservatism when elected, it’s incumbent in our form of government to call these individuals to account.  The full list of legislators who voted for and against the Gas Tax is here.

Sadly, every single legislator in Hamilton & Bradley County, TN voted FOR the Gas Tax.  And out of the list below, only one is a Democrat:

Representatives:
Gerald McCormick-R, 26
Patsy Hazlewood-R, 27
JoAnne Favors-D, 28
Mike Carter-R, 29
Marc Gravitt-R, 30
Dan Howell-R, 22
Kevin Brooks-R, 24

Senators:
Mike Bell-R, 9
Todd Gardenhire-R, 10
Bo Watson-R, 11

I acknowledge that many of Tennessee’s roads and bridges are in need of repair.  And to be clear, those of us who opposed the gas tax are NOT against increasing the amount that our state allocates towards our road budget.  Rather, our opposition has always been that the default answer by most Republicans was to raise taxes when there are multi-billion dollar surpluses that are available to fund every penny of the Governor’s proposed road budget increase.

What is inexplicable about the whole gas tax matter though, is that every initiative that was proposed that sought to avoid tax increases in favor of using surpluses to fund road repairs was met with intense opposition by the governor and Republican legislators.  It was clear they would not take NO for an answer to their gas tax increase.  And why they were stuck on a gas tax increase is something we may never know.

During the course of the debate over the gas tax increase, many pro-tax Tennessee Republicans were quick to embrace the following  quote from Ronald Reagan:

“The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally – not a 20 percent traitor.”

But here’s the problem with “tax & spend” legislators using this quote.  In every relationship there are negotiables and non-negotiables.  Consider the most fundamental relationship: marriage.

If a husband picks up his clothes 80% of the time, but fails to do so every so often, he is not a traitor, deserving of a firing squad.  Rather, he just needs some grace from his wife, and she will likely agree he is “a friend and an ally.”

But if that same husband is faithful to his wife 80% of the time and carouses around “just” 20% of the time, he is a 100% traitor to his wife and vows, and he shouldn’t be surprised when an attorney delivers the divorce papers.

Obviously, all matters are not equal.  So when a Republican legislator professes that he/she is a fiscal conservative, then a non-negotiable should be the matter of raising taxes when there are better alternatives.  Utilizing a multi-billion dollar surplus would seem to be a better alternative than raising taxes.

So don’t buy this distortion of Reagan’s quote.  The very legislators who rush to Reagan for cover are the same ones who are unfaithful to the values that Reagan espoused and lived, at least in the area of raising taxes in 2017 in Tennessee.

So I wonder what’s next from these legislators?  Your guess is as good as mine, but betting on the fact that they’ll stand firm against tax increases is no longer a given.

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.)  

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
chart-1-gross-public-debt-1980-2016-bar

Chart #2: The Federal Deficit from 1980 – 2016
chart-2-federal-deficit-1980-2016-bar

Chart #3:  Trillion Dollar Deficits Return by 2024
chart-3-cbo-crfb-projected-deficits

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

Will the Trump Presidency Touch Down or Crash Land?

Will the Trump Presidency Touch Down or Crash Land?

will-the-trump-presidency-touch-down-or-crash-land

As I peer out the window at the terrain below, jetting over the heartland of America, I cannot help but ponder the future for our nation following the unexpected and historical win by Donald Trump.  

We saw so many “firsts” during Election 2016.  The first billionaire to win the Presidency.  The first woman to ever receive the nomination for President of a major party.  The first election where both candidates’ unfavorable ratings were at historical highs.  And so many more.

Today I am indeed grateful to God that we are not referring to Hillary Clinton as President-elect.  If you believe that God is still intimately engaged in His creation, then you understand that Daniel 2:21 was once again affirmed in this election in which we were all given the privilege and responsibility to participate:  “And He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and raise up kings.” 

While I am thankful that Hillary Clinton did not prevail, admittedly I remain a skeptic as to Trump’s veracity, trustworthiness and character.  My concerns will either be affirmed or invalidated in the months and years to come.  And honestly I pray they are proven wrong.  But one thing is certain.  As Donald Trump transitions from candidate to President, some very distinct realities will set in.

If you’ve ever flown, as I am doing today, you know that there can be something magical about soaring 30,000 feet above the earth at 600+ mph, seeing the earth below you whiz by.  The details of all that lies below is indistinguishable from that altitude. Similarly though, if one is glancing up from the ground into the atmosphere, the specifics of an aircraft is also unknown.

What airline is it?  What is its tail number?  Is it a Boeing or Airbus?  Who is inside?  There’s no telling until the plane lands. 

But when that silver capsule finally touches down, the answers will become clear.  If there are defects in the plane, they will be exposed. And as the passengers disembark, their true identity will be revealed. 

Over the last year, the Trump campaign has been like the jet cruising at 30,000 feet. Its flight plan has been purposefully one of generalities with limited substance dealing in poll-tested, populist issues.  But to an angry and disgusted populace, the vague flight plan proved wildly popular, with statements like these fueling Trump’s flight:

“I will build a great wall on our southern border and I will make Mexico pay for that wall.  Mark my words!”

“Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”  (Interestingly this statement was removed from Trump’s website 11/09/16, the day after his election.  See here.)

“I’m going to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

“We’re going to have a special prosecutor for Hillary. If I were President, Hillary would already be in jail.”

But the Trump campaign is now descending from its year-long high altitude voyage, to the reality of a Trump administration.  As the implementation of the billionaire’s vision proceeds, which was strong on emotionally charged rhetoric but soft on specifics, any blemishes in Trump’s policies and flaws in his style and guiding philosophies will quickly be tested and revealed. 

Fortunately for Trump, he is landing his Presidency on a “Republican-friendly” runway, given the reality that our new President will be advantaged with a GOP-controlled Senate and House. And while there are many Republicans in Congress who are not fans of Donald, the way in which Trump won will give him the gravitas that many of his predecessors lacked. 

So will President-elect Donald Trump touch down in Washington, prepared to govern and deliver specific solutions that are as popular and successful as his campaign rhetoric was in its lacking of those same specifics? Can the reality TV star be accountable to voters to follow through in the drudgery of day to day governing?  Will Trump’s decisions over the next four years remain in alignment with the positions he claimed he supported during his campaign?  Or will President Trump revert back to the antithetical views and values he embraced during the many decades leading up to his Republican “conversion.” Will the dozens of campaign promises Trump made, many outrageous in nature, be fulfilled?  And if not, will his supporters even care?

The answers to these questions will determine whether President Trump’s arrival and tenure in Washington will be a successful and controlled touch down or a disastrous crash landing. For the sake of our nation, our communities and our loved ones, I pray our new President is not only wildly successful, both politically and personally, but that the man who disembarks in Washington is a man of great character and integrity. 

“What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?”  Mark 8:36

Mark
If You Reject Hillary & Trump Here are Some Options

If You Reject Hillary & Trump Here are Some Options

reject-hillary-trump-options-final

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.