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 #2: The Federal Deficit from 1980 – 2016
Chart #3: Trillion Dollar Deficits Return by 2024
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
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:
Economic growth is threatened as national debt increases.
Wages are depressed and the availability of jobs is minimized.
The stability of Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid is jeopardized.
Personal costs of living increase as interest rates on individual credit ratchet up.
Burden for repayment of nation’s overspending today will be heaped on our children and grandchildren tomorrow.
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.”
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
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
NOTE: Chart below works best on computer or to view on your phone click here.
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.”
Photo credit: Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_gatordawg’>gatordawg / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
“No people can be great, who have ceased to be virtuous.” Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)
This week I am witnessing first hand the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. As I’ve been observing the happenings within the Quicken Arena, the one theme that continues to pop up again and again, is Make America Great Again. Of course, that being the Trump campaign motto, it should come as no surprise. From t-shirts to ball caps, street vendors to banners, the motto is everywhere I look, here in Cleveland.
The brilliantly conceived message is one that plays well with disillusioned and disgusted voters, who have experienced the last seven years of an Obama Presidency and grown increasingly skeptical and angry with Washington DC. But to add to that anger, Republican voters have had to endure a party establishment who cares more about power and reelections than they do about upholding the Constitution, and fighting back against Obama’s all out assault on our freedoms, national security and economic revitalization. So Trump stepped into a perfect storm and has been a master at tapping into the base emotions of voters, with a message that sells to the disgruntled masses.
While the overriding theme of the Convention this week is Make America Great Again, the Trump campaign has played brilliantly off that theme to devise a relevant emphasis each day as follows:
Monday: Make America Safe Again
Tuesday: Make America Work Again
Wednesday: Make America First Again
Thursday: Make America One Again
I wouldn’t deny that these are all worthy topics and aspirations, but as I’ve considered Trump’s Make America Great Again theme, I believe the New York billionaire is attempting to place the cart before the horse. It’s as if Trump’s seeking to build one of his skyscrapers before digging the foundation. Sadly, many of the American people have eagerly embraced Donald’s message, believing they can simply don a baseball cap, elect a businessman, and the nation’s course will be reversed, with Great days ahead, absent any personal sacrifice or change.
In order for a business to achieve greatness, it requires a superior product or service, with a comprehensive approach and attention to the way it treats its employees, suppliers, investors and even its community. Similarly, a person will only be truly great, if that person possesses the inner qualities that lead to greatness: humility, service, wisdom, courage, forgiveness, trustworthiness, and more. In years gone by, the word that was often used to describe these qualities was virtue: “behavior showing high moral standards.”
So can a nation be Great, as in “superior in character or quality” without being Good or virtuous? Clearly Trump’s message suggests, by the use of the word “Again,” that America is no longer Great. And if that is accurate, which I believe it is, then what was it that led to America’s greatness in the past? Was it merely the desire or goal of being great, by those before us, that led to America becoming great? Or was it based on some other qualities our forefathers and grandfathers possessed, that led to our nation becoming the greatest nation this world has ever known?
I would suggest that to be great, America cannot simply seek to be great, anymore than wishing to be a great company can cause a business to excel. Greatness results from small, daily routines when others are not watching that flow from conscious decisions that ultimately develop into one’s character. Greatness is not the end goal but rather it is a by-product of other disciplines.
If America is to become great again, it will not be as a result of a mere focus on greatness but it will rather flow from a commitment to the individual attributes that lead to greatness. Those attributes must be developed in our lives, and consciously taught and passed on to the lives of our children. There is a famous quote that we have all heard before: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”
Sadly, the current destiny of our nation has resulted from the thoughts, actions, habits and character that we have developed individually and collectively as a people. Our fall from greatness will not be restored with mere political victories and cheap cliches that induce warm and fuzzy emotions. Rather, it will require each of us to take serious inventory of our own character to determine how and where we have contributed to the current course of our nation. And as we identify our own flaws and weaknesses, we must then be willing to make the hard changes in our own lives and thus begin the more difficult but absolutely crucial changes to right the course of our nation. Only when we do so can we #MakeAmericaGoodAgain.
“Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.” Patrick Henry
Imagine a doctor who compromises the proven cure for an illness. Or a financial advisor who compromises a sure investment. Or a pilot who compromises the correct course heading. Or a Mt. Everest climber who compromises the proper amount of oxygen needed to scale the summit. Or a political party that compromises the very principles and values that built a great nation.
Compromise, when resorted to in the wrong scenarios, can have disastrous consequences.
Perhaps the only thing worse than being sincerely wrong is being willing to compromise the truth by diluting it with a lie.
The art of compromise is one that is an integral part of business, politics, relationships and more. It is typically employed when two parties hold opposing views and are at an impasse. And if compromise does not sacrifice truth or principle, then it can be a worthwhile strategy to advance one’s goals.
But when compromise involves abandoning one’s principles and truth, then it will certainly lead to failure and ultimate loss.
The GOP’s history of diluting and compromising its core principles over the last several decades has led directly to the rise of Donald Trump. As a result, Republicans are now being represented and led by a man who:
- Is an open and unapologetic serial adulterer, even boasting of his numerous and lurid escapades with “top women of the world.”
- Is well known for his willingness to verbally assault anyone that might pose a threat to him or that he simply desires to ridicule or mock. It matters not whether the person is an invalid, a woman that doesn’t measure up to his perfect 10 scoring, or a hundred other childish, misogynist or bigoted reasons.
- Routinely encourages violence against those who disagree with him.
- Uses mean-spirited racial slurs and disparages various ethnic and religious minorities.
- Values his own personal ambition, fame and wealth above most anything else.
- Affirms that America is not an exceptional nation, and he actually has never liked such a designation.
- Has never asked God for forgiveness and does not even see the need for such.
- Believes Planned Parenthood does good work.
- Would order the military to kill the wives and children of terrorists.
- Supported a ban on “assault weapons.”
- Has sided with the strong-arm tactics of government over the personal property rights of individuals.
- Is a big government crony capitalist, doling our millions to politicians, in order to buy personal & business favors.
- Is a serial liar, personally, professionally and politically.
- Advocated for universal healthcare.
- Supported partial birth abortion.
- Welcomed Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner to use the women’s restroom in Trump Tower.
- Criticized the North Carolina “bathroom bill” and suggested that people should “use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate.”
The Republican Platform over the years, including in 2012, has been a manuscript that promoted not only our nation’s founding principles but it affirmed the values that have been synonymous with conservatives. But it’s one thing to enumerate a set of principles via a manuscript and yet another to put those principles into action. Sadly we have witnessed too many Republican leaders willingly compromise our founding principles, to the detriment of the party and the nation.
There are times when a person’s commitment to truth or principle requires personal sacrifice. In some instances that sacrifice may even cost great loss. We can look to our history to see great examples of men and women who were willing to sacrifice fame and fortune rather than compromise. One of Tennessee’s great heroes, Davy Crockett, is one such example. Despite facing certain death, Crockett came to the aide of his newly adopted Texas brothers at the Alamo and lost his life doing so. But in that final act, Davy epitomized the spirit he had chosen to live by: “Be always sure you’re right. Then go ahead!“
President John F. Kennedy famously once said, “Sometimes party loyalty asks too much.” When such loyalty demands the compromise of truth and principle, that loyalty must not only be abandoned, but it must be exposed for the failure it most certainly will cause.
“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” John Adams, founding father.
“Truth has stumbled in the streets.” (Isaiah 59:14)