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.

The Bible, Guns & Self-Defense

The Bible, Guns & Self-Defense

bible-guns-self-defense

Perhaps one of the greatest areas of division in our nation today is the debate over guns.  For the last several decades we have seen politicians, celebrities, corporations and even religious groups come out against the idea that Americans should be able to own guns, and carry them on their person.  Firearms known as “assault rifles” — in particular AR-15’s — have been heavily targeted by activists and politicians.

Despite our national debate, our Constitution, through the Bill of Rights, codifies this fundamental right with these words:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

To keep and bear arms…”  Can there be any clearer wording?  But for what purpose was that right codified?  

Of course, the phrase just before those five words, provides some insights:  “the security of a free state.

Whenever there is a discussion of the right to bear arms, people generally cite one or more of these three reasons for owning guns:

  1. For hunting
  2. For self defense and personal protection
  3. To maintain a free state (and stave off tyranny).

It should be clearly noted that the 2nd Amendment is NOT about hunting.  Rather, when the 2nd Amendment affirms that “a well regulated militia [is] necessary to the security of a free state” it is clearly inferring that without arms, a state is more likely to descend into tyranny.  Armed citizens pose a tangible threat to political leaders whose intents are less than pure.  

But there is a deeper value than simply staving off tyranny.  

Self-Defense

At the heart of preserving a free state is the idea of self-defense.  One does not seek to preserve a free state simply for the value of the state, but ultimately for the benefit that flows to the individual.  Thus, it is the epitome of self-preservation to maintain a free state.  As such, the foundational value to the 2nd Amendment is self-defense.

I have discussed and debated this topic over the years with friends on both sides of the issue.  Some opponents have occasionally cited scriptural passages to assert their belief that guns should be banned, or at the very minimum, greatly restricted.

But one would have to be completely illiterate of dozens of Biblical passages to suggest that God opposes the concept of people possessing and using weapons.  Today, I’d like to highlight just a few such passages that not only establish clear examples of the concept of self-defense, but more importantly, they teach a principle any responsible person should incorporate into their own lives.

The stories of Esther and Nehemiah both highlight the principle of self-defense and how these two individuals, greatly used by God, would not have prevailed, but for the role of weapons, and the personal ownership and use of arms by ordinary citizens.

Esther

In Esther, we read the story about the attempted annihilation of the Jews by Haman, an evil government official who was second in command to King Xerxes.  Through deception, Haman convinced King Xerxes to issue a mortal decree which we read of in Esther 3:

The decree was written in the name of King Xerxes and sealed with the king’s signet ring. Dispatches were sent by swift messengers into all the provinces of the empire, giving the order that all Jews—young and old, including women and children—must be killed, slaughtered, and annihilated on a single day. This was scheduled to happen on March 7 of the next year. The property of the Jews would be given to those who killed them. (Esther 3:12-13)

When Haman’s malicious plot was uncovered and he ultimately lost his life over it, King Xerxes issued another decree that granted the Jews the authority to defend themselves (their version of the 2nd Amendment):

The king’s decree gave the Jews in every city authority to unite to defend their lives. They were allowed to kill, slaughter, and annihilate anyone of any nationality or province who might attack them or their children and wives, and to take the property of their enemies. (Esther 8:11)

And we see a few verses later how the Jews exercised their right to self-defense:

On that day, the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but quite the opposite happened. It was the Jews who overpowered their enemies. The Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the king’s provinces to attack anyone who tried to harm them.  But no one could make a stand against them, for everyone was afraid of them. So the Jews went ahead on the appointed day and struck down their enemies with the sword. (Esther 9:1-2, 5)

Did you note the reference to a sword?  (I wonder if that sword might have been an Assault Sword, perhaps referred to as an AS-15?)

If there’s one thing that should be learned from this story, it is that the Jews were held up as an example of what to do when threatened by an enemy.  Passive submission was not the default.  Rather, these ordinary citizens picked up their arms and actively sought to defend their families and property.  It should also be noted that as the enemies who sought the Jews harm realized the Jews were armed and prepared to defend themselves, many of the enemies backed away from the fight, illustrating that strength acts as a deterrent.

Nehemiah

In the story of Nehemiah, the setting is in Jerusalem as the Jews are seeking to rebuild the wall around the city.  As they are working day and night to complete their task, we again find the Jews threatened by an enemy that seeks to harm and kill them.  Nehemiah, their governor, is a wise man whose walk with God is exemplary.  Upon seeing the threat posed by the enemies of the Jews, the governor encourages his citizens to fight:

The Jews who lived near the enemy came and told us again and again, “They will come from all directions and attack us!”  So I placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas. I stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows. Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!” (Nehemiah 4:12-14)

Because the threat was imminent and ongoing, Nehemiah and his fellow citizens even found it necessary to remain armed at all times as we see here:

During this time, none of us—not I, nor my relatives, nor my servants, nor the guards who were with me—ever took off our clothes. We carried our weapons with us at all times, even when we went for water. (Nehemiah 4:23)

So in just these two biblical examples, we see support for the underlying principle in the Second Amendment, self-defense.  If the time allowed, we could cite dozens more.

But here’s where the rubber meets the road for you. 

Pressure will no doubt intensify in the coming months to restrict and control gun ownership, with the ultimate goal of subverting our Second Amendment and disarming you.  If you allow this to happen, or if you ultimately acquiesce to any unlawful “decree” by Washington, you will be ignoring the preponderance of history that reveals that a disarmed citizenry leads to an oppressed people. But more importantly, you will be violating a fundamental biblical principle, the value of self-defense, which is not only your right, but your obligation to stand for your family, and others who are threatened by thugs, criminals… and politicians.  

If you are a gun owner and want to learn how to better handle your weapon, we will be hosting a Basic Self-Defense Course at our private shooting range at Liberty Ridge Ranch October 28-29.  The course, led by elite instructors from the US Army Special Forces, will be a day and a half event and will provide you with the rock-solid foundation for protecting yourself, and your loved ones.  Spots are very limited.  For more info, please email me at [email protected] or click reply, if you received this as an email.  

Mark

America: The Point of No Return?

America: The Point of No Return?

america-the-point-of-no-return

Over the last decade, I have interacted with hundreds, if not thousands, of fellow Americans, as we have shared our grave concerns over the direction of our nation.  There is no doubt that the land of the free and home of the brave is on a course that threatens our future and the very survival of our nation.  So we must ask ourselves this question.

Have we reached the point of no return?

Some may brush off such concerns, believing that America is too big to fail, and asserting that as the world’s superpower, our future remains secure.  They reject the voices that continue to warn our leaders, citizens and neighbors that something is seriously wrong, and that never before has a nation ignored and rejected so many warnings and foundational principles, and survived.   

One only needs to shuffle through history to recognize that nation after nation has ultimately stumbled and fallen when it turned its back on the basic building blocks of any exceptional civilization.  Today, I would like to briefly touch on a few of the key foundation stones.

Economically

If there is one thing that dominates the hearts and minds of Americans it’s the almighty dollar.  The economy consistently scores at the top of issues that concern Americans.  In fact, the phrase, “it’s the economy stupid” became an often used slogan during the Clinton-Bush presidential campaign in 1992.  

But with our nation’s current debt at $19,500,000,000,000 (that’s trillion) and its unfunded liabilities exceeding another $100 trillion, many would say that this issue alone has already taken us past the point of no return.  Regardless of who is elected in November, both Clinton and Trump’s plans will continue to increase the national debt, at alarming rates.

However, it may surprise you to know that according to a recent study by Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, our nation’s federal debt would fare far worse under Trump with the debt in 2026 soaring to $39.5 Trillion, double the current debt.  Under a Clinton administration, the national debt would rise to $29.6 Trillion.  While $10 Trillion less than Trump, both candidates’ plans would put the final nail in the fiscal coffin of our nation.

The idea that we can continue to spend into oblivion with no consequences whatsoever is one sign that a nation is on the path to ultimate collapse.

trump-clintonc-gross-debt-crfb

Politically

There have certainly been periods of political dysfunction and turmoil over our 240 year history as a nation.  And I suppose that occurs when men seek and desire power, often above all else.  But as we see the magnitude of the problems facing our nation increasing exponentially, the prolonged polarization we are experiencing represents an existential threat to America.  Good men and women can disagree, but at the end of the day, opposite sides of an issue must find some common ground if they are to solve problems in a republic, the system chosen by our founders.  Of course, this also assumes that both sides are honest players in their desire to solve our problems, which is no longer the case. 

Without our political leaders seeking the best for our nation, it’s unquestionable that the course we are on is headed for a ruinous conclusion.

Ethically

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…” — the bedrock values of our nation.  In selecting these words, our founding fathers sought to affirm the fundamental rights granted to man by God.  By doing so they established the ground rules upon which we would live with each other.  These rules, or sacred rights, would be the basis for all future interactions between the hundreds of millions of Americans that would follow them.  

But in this era, no longer is Life revered and protected.  Liberty is being handcuffed and under constant assault.  And the Happiness one was once free to pursue is subject to approval, or disapproval, by the state.

As all of these founding rights have come under attack, corruption within our government and businesses has skyrocketed. Politicians use government as their own private wrecking ball in destroying those citizens, groups and states with whom they disagree.  Businessmen use their enterprises to achieve personal gain, irrespective of the customers they manipulate, prey on, or defraud.  Consequently, it’s only fitting that the two candidates for President exemplify the worst this nation has to offer, when it comes to candidates of high ethical standing.

We see then that as a nation’s ethics plummet and it removes the foundations of truth, the structure upon which it was built begins to sway and will ultimately topple.  

Morally

Morals, the system by which we determine good and bad, is absolutely crucial in directing the ultimate destination of one’s life, enterprise and even nation.  Morals are impacted and greatly influenced by the culture and society.  Yet all morals are not equal. 

Consider that under the teachings of Muhammed, the founder of Islam, it is appropriate to lie to advance the cause of Islam.  It is also valid to subjugate non-Muslims, since they are deemed to be inferior people, referred to as kafirs.  In contrast, the teachings of Jesus Christ instruct humanity to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, the golden rule.  And Christ also taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Clearly, these two ideologies, Islam and Christianity, are at two extremes in defining their morals, what is good and bad.  

Over the last half century or so, our culture has radically redefined our morals.  What was good 50 years ago is now bad, and what was bad then is now good.  I could spend the next several paragraphs providing examples, but if you’re awake, you know how what was considered evil just a few decades ago, is now embraced, celebrated and promoted.

Morals, like ideas, matter.  When a nation rejects good and elevates evil, and when that same nation punishes those who embrace good, and it codifies that which is bad, there can be no doubt that such nation is on a short path to collapse.

Spiritually 

For America, perhaps this is the seminal issue upon which the ones above all rest.  A skyscraper is only as sturdy and secure as the foundation upon which it rests.  Likewise, the American experiment over these last 240 years has been an extraordinary success because of the Judeo-Christian values upon which it rested.  But as those values have not only been attacked, but ultimately replaced over the last few decades with secularism, it’s clear that the experiment has begun to falter.  And as it falters, we will have reached the point of no return.

We read in Scripture this promise, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”  But we also read that “A nation without God’s guidance is a nation without order.”  Could there be any more fitting description of the condition of our nation today?  And if God is the same yesterday, today and forever, as He declares, then we must certainly expect the coming extreme judgment of a Holy God as He has shown in so many other examples over the millenniums.

Ronald Reagan, our 40th President, while imperfect, exemplified the values of our founders and sought to redirect the trajectory of our nation.  The course we were on was taking us to the point of no return but Reagan’s commitment to revitalize our economy, politics, ethics and morals, while elevating the spiritual, slowed our nation’s arrival at the edge of the cliff.  

In one of Reagan’s most famous speeches entitled “A Time For Choosing,” first delivered in 1964, Reagan exposed the threat to peace by the Soviet Union.  But his comments then are likewise applicable to my discussion today.  In his closing remarks, Reagan stated:

“Someday… our surrender will be voluntary because by that time, we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally and economically… You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.  We’ll preserve for our children this the last best hope of man on earth or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.”

Our rendezvous with destiny is upon us.  By our choices and priorities over these last 50 years, we have established that destiny.  And while our national destiny is perhaps past the point of no return, individually we can and must establish our own personal destiny, which does not have to mirror that of America’s.  I pray you will embark on a plan to secure your destiny, economically, morally and spiritually.

To find out how, check out this previous article I wrote providing some specific and practical steps that we can all take.

Mark

The Wildly Profitable Gift Shop on the Titanic: The Dilemma

The Wildly Profitable Gift Shop on the Titanic: The Dilemma

The Wildly Profitable Gift Shop on The Titanic-Part 1

“A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”  Proverbs 27:12 NLT  

It was April 14, 1912, day 4 of Margaret Fuller’s virgin voyage on board the Titanic. Things could not be better. Her bid to open the only gift shop on the new mega-ship had been accepted three months earlier. She had operated other shops on several ocean liners during the past decade.  As a result, she had achieved some degree of success and affluence from those years of hard work, sacrifice and optimism. 

RMS_Titanic_3 (1)But none of those other shops had begun with such a burst of passenger excitement, which directly translated to record setting sales. In the first three days of the voyage, her shop’s revenue had already surpassed the sales of the last two transatlantic voyages combined. Margaret could not be more pleased. 

As she rose early to head up for a quick breakfast before opening her shop, Margaret walked by one of the twenty lifeboats that were stowed securely on the boat’s deck.  For a brief moment her mind flashed back to some reports she had read prior to their departure.  Some had expressed concern that there were more passengers on board than the lifeboats could carry.  But Margaret quickly pushed the thought from her mind, fully confident that a ship the size of the Titanic, with all its safety systems, was completely secure.  It was certainly too big to falter along the 3000 mile journey.  

Sales were strong again on that fourth day of the voyage.  The passengers seemed eager to spend.  Their excitement and mood could not be more upbeat.  There were other small business owners and entrepreneurs on board who all seemed to be experiencing the same results that Margaret was realizing. 

That evening, Margaret sat down to write down her thoughts in her journal, as she had been doing for several years now:

Day 4:  Life is great.  Another record day.  Sales are phenomenal.  People are happy.  The only concern I have is whether I will run out of inventory on our return trip to England.  Not that such a problem would be bad.  Who would have ever imagined I would sell out my entire inventory?  This new venture on board one of the greatest sea-going vessels of our time is something I could have never imagined.  And the likelihood that anything could go wrong at this point is beyond my wildest imagination.  Well, I better get some sleep.  Tomorrow will be another busy day, no doubt.  Good night diary…

Margaret readied herself for bed, said a quick prayer, and was soon in a deep sleep.

As Margaret slept, she began dreaming that she was hearing sirens going off.  The more she tried to ignore the sirens, the louder they seemed to get.  Soon the sirens were accompanied by a jolting and lurching and she then realized: This isn’t a dream!  The sirens were really going off.  The articles on her dresser had just been thrown across the room onto the floor.  She heard glass breaking in her bathroom as the mirror fell off the wall.  Down the hall, outside her door, she could hear people screaming. 

Margaret was now wide awake.  This was no dream.  Rather, it was a real nightmare. As she grabbed her housecoat, and dashed out her cabin door, Margaret’s mind flashed back to the lifeboat she had walked by the day before.  She tried to control a panicked and sinking feeling as she considered the fact that if the lifeboats were needed, she might not make it onto one of them. 

Leaving_the_sinking_linerAs she shot up the stairs to the main deck, her panic suddenly turned to terror.  Crew members were yelling to everyone to head for the lifeboats, screaming to them that the ship had struck an object of some sort. There was little time before the unthinkable would happen, they were warning.  It was clear the unsinkable ship was going down, and only those who were fortunate enough to scramble onto one of the lifeboats would survive.  

As she ran towards one of the lifeboats, the ship suddenly lurched violently, and Margaret was thrown several yards into the air before she  slammed back down onto the deck.  She was dazed and shaken.  Her entire body ached.  But she had enough presence of mind to realize she had to make it to a lifeboat. 

Margaret half crawled and half ran to the nearest lifeboat and began to fight her way through the others who were all trying to board it.  She was ashamed of her actions as she clawed her way past other screaming and terrorized passengers.  But Margaret knew that if she were courteous, she would not make it.   As the lifeboat began to swing over the side and above the freezing dark waters below, Margaret lunged for it, barely grasping the edge of the small boat, as a strong arm dragged her aboard.   And then, everything grew pitch black as they descended into the ocean below.

Margaret could hear screams from above.  It was sheer terror and no doubt they were the last sounds that many who were still on board would make.  She was told that the lifeboat they were on was the last one.  There were no more.  Those left behind were no doubt destined for a horrendous fate.  

Briefly, Margaret thought about her gift shop, her livelihood, her fortune and her dreams.  They were all going down with the ship.  Just hours earlier she couldn’t have been more upbeat, more optimistic, more confident of the profitable future that was in store for her.  Now, it all seemed so meaningless, so short-sighted, and so mundane.  She hauntingly remembered the warnings some had made prior to the Titanic’s departure about the inadequate number of lifeboats.  She thought about the hundreds of poor souls who were even then sinking to the depths of the Atlantic.  And then she realized the truth. 

The Titanic was not too big to falter. It was not too big too fail.  And yet, it took a catastrophic loss of life for that reality to set in.

It was 130 years earlier, during the Revolutionary War, that George Washington commented, in strong disapproval, about how many of our early countrymen put private gain before “the essential rights and liberties of the present generation, and of millions yet unborn.”   Our first President was concerned that a short-sighted focus by citizens could lead to a long-term loss of our most sacred values: Life, Liberty and more.  

Like Margaret on board the Titanic, in my fictional story, today’s entrepreneurs, corporate executives and managers are busy about the business of making money, turning a profit and increasing their own personal fortunes.  Obviously, in and of itself, this is not a bad thing.  But as our first President noted, we can often pursue our own private gain at the expense of our “essential rights and liberties.”  Sadly, because of this tendency by too many today, our nation is bearing down on its own iceberg.

In our hearts we all know this.  The sirens are going off.  The warnings are everywhere.   

$150 trillion in debt

a collapsing political system

extreme societal polarization and division

rampant corruption in Washington and our state houses

greed has infected our populace

unrest and violence is growing

ethics and morals have all but disintegrated

religion has little influence in our society

terrorism is rising

And there are innumerable more warning signs.  And yet, it appears that so many of us are so disengaged.  We ignore the obvious. We are more focused on seeking the profit of our “gift shops” than heeding the perilous warnings.

But unless we wake up before it’s too late, there will be a catastrophic event that will make that last sale, that last promotion, that last quarter’s results, seem so mundane, so futile, so meaningless.  

Have we reached the point of no return?  I do not know.  

I pray that we can avert the iceberg that appears to be directly in our path.  But you and I will determine whether or not we do. Will we prioritize our private gain?  Or will we, like our founding fathers, prioritize the “essential rights and liberties of the present generation and of the millions yet unborn?”  Our actions today and tomorrow will reveal our priorities, and the destiny of America.

Next week, in Part 2, we’ll explore some practical steps that we can take to avert the iceberg, or, if the worst should happen, what we can do to prepare for such a disastrous event.  But I’d love to hear your thought before then as well so shoot me an email and post a comment and let me know what you’re thinking.  Until then…

Mark

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>
A Second American Revolution: Defeating The Enemy Within

A Second American Revolution: Defeating The Enemy Within

A Second American Revolution And The Enemy Within

When our founding fathers penned their names in 1776 to perhaps our nation’s greatest document, the Declaration of Independence, they attempted what we now know was a glorious and courageous feat. Singling out King George as the object of their contempt was viewed by many of their contemporaries as not only foolish, but it would likely cost those 56 men their “lives, fortune and sacred honor.”  

Two hundred and forty years later, we marvel at the resolute and unsurpassed character of our founding fathers and the thousands of others who rose up to revolt against Great Britain, their formidable enemy.

Following a brutal and what oftentimes appeared a hopeless cause, George Washington and his ragtag group of soldiers, realized a miraculous and no doubt, Providential victory. As the thirteen colonies concluded their Constitutional Convention in 1787, a lady asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”  To which he replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.

“If you can keep it…”

This has always been the challenge to every American citizen over the last 240 years, keeping our Republic. Of course there have been many instances over these many years where we have faced enemies from without, foes that at the time were no doubt powerful and threatening.

Today though, with the ever increasing threat of terrorism, some would suggest that Islamic terrorists have now become our greatest enemy.  Others would argue that Russia or China, both nuclear nations which seek superpower status, are our nation’s greatest threat.  

Looking closer to home, some would suggest that a President who looks with contempt at the people whom he represents as a serious threat.  Others point to our Congress as the greatest threat, as Senators and Congressmen continuously erode our liberties with each passing year.  Still others, concerned with the expanding role of the SCOTUS, view our nation’s men and women in black robes as the greatest threat to the permanence of our Republic.

No doubt all of these threats represent real and present dangers to our nation’s survival.   

But today we face an even greater enemy than those just enumerated.  While each preceding generation has stood resolute as they were tested by the enemies of their time, I fear that the present generation, yours and mine, is not only failing to overcome our enemy, but worse, we lack the will or discipline to do so. 

It was Sun Tzu who declared 2500 years ago in The Art of War, “if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear a hundred battles.”

Today we do not know the real enemy we face.  That enemy is within.  And that enemy is you… and me. 

We are the greatest threat our nation faces. 

As a populace:

  • We are uniformed and disengaged, caring little about the affairs of their government.
  • We devote more time to our favorite pastimes, hobbies, or reality shows, than to holding our governmental representatives accountable, at all levels.
  • We are engrossed in the statistics of our favorite sports team but know virtually nothing about our nation’s exploding and threatening national debt.
  • We spent 10x more on lottery tickets ($70 billion) in 2014 than we did in the previous Presidential election year.
  • We care little about the character of our representatives, whether in Congress or in the Oval Office, preferring their promises over their principles.
  • Our voter turnout trails nearly every other developed country in the world, with a measly 53% in 2012, and we engage at an even lower rate in local elections.
  • Our moral, religious and ethical standards continue to slide at ever increasing rates.

Consequently, as you and I have chosen to be distant, apathetic and careless toward our government, we have seen that same government become dysfunctional, corrupt and an ever growing threat to our “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” 

As a constitutional republic, the United States is dependent on its citizens to select men and women of exceptional skills and character to lead their nation. And it’s incumbent on those same citizens to make the necessary corrections when their leaders veer off course and threaten our nation’s future.  

Just this week we witnessed corruption of the worst kind when the FBI, an agency of the Department of Justice, exonerated Hillary Clinton from the admitted criminal violations she was involved in with her illegal email scheme.  And yet, it’s highly likely this corruption will be rewarded with the keys to the Oval Office in November.

So what is the answer?  And what is the solution?  First and foremost we are beyond “political solutions.”  You cannot solve a heart problem with a political strategy.  And we are informed of this truth by this verse, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  

To restore the foundations, we must restore our hearts.  And the restoration of our heart begins with the bending of our knees. 

Our sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln, understood this truth all too well when he published this solemn challenge to all Americans, and it’s one we would do well to heed today:

Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

“And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of the civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People?  We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven.  We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity.  We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown.  But we have forgotten God.  We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.  Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

“It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

And so there it is, the formula to overcome the enemy within and launch our nation’s Second Revolution:

Humility. Sorrow. Prayer. Confession. Repentance. Dependence. Assurance. Hope. Blessings.

Mark