Trump Wins Indiana. Cruz Withdraws. And America Loses.
While the nation’s Trumpsters celebrated Tuesday night, I’m reminded of another celebratory night in November 2008 and again in November 2012. The cause for jubilation those two nights was another politician’s victory — the occasion of Barack Obama’s two elections to POTUS.
But every win is not progress. And every victory is not a cause for celebration.
We have only to consider the years since Obama’s election in 2008 to understand that sometimes winning is losing. And some victories can be defeats.
Trump’s pending coronation as the Republican nominee for POTUS, is one such loss and one such defeat.
It is a loss for the conservative cause as defined by Ronald Reagan’s three legged stool.
It is a defeat for social conservatism.
It is a loss for fiscal conservatism.
It is a defeat for a strong national defense.
And as such, America loses with Trump’s win on Tuesday.
As we’ve all learned in life, sometimes good guys do finish last, at least in the short term. And this week, Senator Ted Cruz was one such good guy. For those of us who have honestly examined Ted’s character, we have found a man of great integrity, with an unquestionable track record of fighting evil, defending good and standing for truth. Yet he lost.
But did Ted really lose? If you measure one’s life simply based on popularity, votes and the affirmation of man, then I suppose so.
But I know Ted, both from spending time with him and Heidi, as well as examining his record. And by doing so I know that Ted has kept the faith, he has fought the good fight, and at this point, while he may have lost a battle, I have full confidence that he has not lost the war.
So I am not discouraged.
You see, I’m a firm believer in the truth we find in Ephesians that informs us that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Because of this we are reminded to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”
So the real battle is not with the Republican Party, or Donald Trump, or even Donald Trump’s supporters (although they can certainly test our patience at times). No, the real battle is a spiritual one, in which we are all engaged, whether we recognize it or not. And sadly, that battle is being lost in our nation as a growing number of our neighbors, friends and citizens reject good men and women, choosing rather to embrace evil, corruption and depravity, on a larger and grander scale. And as they do so, they call evil good and good evil.
Case in point: the embracing of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and so much more.
But while the values many of us hold dear and which were foundational to the forming of our nation are being lost, we can still win individually. You see, real winning is not measured by a poll or in a voting booth or even having the last word in a heated Facebook discussion. Rather, real winning according to God, is obedience to Him and His commands. And a follower of Christ is not called to win politically (although we must certainly engage politically). Rather we are called to reflect our love for God by simply obeying Him as Jesus instructed us to do when He said: “If you love me, keep my commandments.”
So as Americans continue to reject God’s values on a greater scale, and our nation loses more and more, you and I can win by simply obeying. But honestly, obedience to God is a lot more difficult than simply voting for POTUS every four years.
But I would suggest that is where the real battle is, not in the political arena, but rather in our personal lives. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we probably already know this. The battles that are the toughest are not those I wage with a political opponent. No, the toughest battles that you and I will ever face are those within our heart, mind and will. And perhaps that’s why America is losing. Because too many of us have lost too many battles in our own lives. We’ve first failed to obey God individually. And as this behavior becomes the norm, our nation loses.
Thankfully though, the answer is simple as we are instructed in 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.“
And when we do that we can expect to hear those winning words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Since my teenage years, I can recall a dozen Presidential elections, beginning with the Nixon, McGovern campaign in 1972. Even though many of my early years were spent growing up in Spain, my interest in US politics was high, stemming from my father’s close following of political issues. But as I think back over all the Presidential cycles since 1972, I can think of no election that has been more interesting and contentious than Campaign 2016.
I suppose the soil was fertile for a candidate to surface and to take on powerful and corrupt men and women in Washington, particularly when those leaders have grown completely deaf to the will of the people. So when Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders appeared, many voters were eager to embrace the populist themes of these two men. It’s ironic though that in the case of Trump, his policies and solutions are either vague or non-existent. And in the case of Sanders, his approaches are the antithesis of the values that enabled our nation to become the greatest economic force ever known to man. (As a side note, I believe Ted is the one candidate who has been taking on the corruption in DC for some time now and the growing support for his campaign is validating his consistent anti-establishment and conservative record.)
But my comments here are not so much about individual politicians and their policies, their track record or who can restore our nation to greatness. Rather, I have given much thought to whether God is relevant in this election cycle. Or perhaps the question we should ask is, given that God created the entire universe and all that is within it, does He even concern Himself with something as “trivial” as US Presidential politics every four years?
To answer this question, we must go beyond our mere opinions, and we should go to God Himself, and study His character. I have long contended that we understand a person through their track record. Likewise, we can surely arrive at valid conclusions about God by testing His track record. It’s worth noting that God Himself said that He is the same “yesterday, today and forever” so His behavior, actions and statements throughout the millennia can still be relied upon today.
In our very first account of God, we find Him in Genesis to be engaged and interested in His masterpiece, from the details of creation, to His interaction with Adam and Eve, and the choices our original forefathers made. God offered the first couple unimaginable blessings for their good choices but unthinkable repercussions for bad ones. Sadly, as we have seen in the thousands of years since their cursed choice, man consistently leans in the direction of harmful and destructive choices. As a side note, I suppose if we are honest with ourselves, we too often see this same behavior in our own personal lives.
Fast forward to the book of Judges in the Old Testament and we see the nation of Israel, willfully choosing to unmoor itself from its founding principles. Those principles, established by God, were ones which promised unlimited blessings. But the citizens of Israel rejected those principles, preferring to do “what was right in their own eyes” and they suffered the dire consequences of their disastrous choices. And in Judges 2, we see this hopeless statement for the citizens of Israel: “Every time Israel went out to battle, the Lord fought against them, causing them to be defeated.”
What greater foe and loss could one experience than when God is fighting against you? Do you ever wonder if perhaps God is fighting against us and our nation?
Later in the same book of Judges, we read the story of Samson, someone who, while still in his mother’s womb, was predicted to be the rescuer of Israel. As Samson became a man we see God was regularly engaged in his life, providing Samson with unimaginable success and victories. But we read toward the latter part of Samson’s life, these ominous words about this giant of a man: “…he didn’t realize the Lord had left him.”
It’s a sad day when a man no longer knows that God has left his side. Perhaps as sad is the day when a nation no longer realizes it has left God’s side.
If we had the time, we could cite hundreds of examples in God’s revelation to man, where God is not only concerned about mankind, but He is intimately engaged in our lives. But while God is interested in the individual, He is also engaged and actively involved in who our leaders and rulers are. In Daniel 2:21 we read these words, “He (God) controls the course of world events; He removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.”
Yes, God is engaged in who leads a nation, and thus, He is relevant in Campaign 2016.
Consider this real life scenario that all of us have likely experienced in some fashion. We have all worked for a company, or perhaps some reading this have even owned a business. There is likely no one more interested in the direction of a business than the owner of that business. The owner may employ managers to assist him in overseeing his enterprise, and even allow them certain latitude with their decisions. But at end of the day the owner reserves the right to step in at anytime and overrule their decisions. And if his managers’ decisions are contrary to his mission, the owner can choose to discipline them accordingly. Now in this example we are referring to a fallible man as the owner, who, while he may have good intentions, he is nonetheless imperfect. But in the case of God, as the “owner” of this universe, His intentions are good and perfect and He desires only the best for those who call Him “Lord.”
I have travelled a fair amount around the world and in some instances have been to far removed locations, including hours by dirt road into the remote mountains of South America. In these isolated areas there are natives who may not actually know of the word “gravity.” Regardless though, the lives of those natives, just like ours, are completely dominated and impacted by gravity. We may not regularly think of this force, but you and I must respect this law of nature. So if we willfully walk off a multistory building, we will quickly reap the consequences of such a foolish choice.
Gravity exists and is supremely relevant, whether we acknowledge it or not.
Likewise, I believe God is not only engaged but as relevant as He has ever been, whether Americans chose to acknowledge His supremacy or not.
I suppose the question we must all answer, though, at this critical juncture in our nation’s history is, what role do we play in God’s “business?” During this election cycle, will we seek to honor God and His principles? Or will we, like Israel, experience a scenario where God is actually opposing us, or like Samson, has God left our side?
As we consider the decisions ahead of us in 2016, and which leaders we will choose to embrace, will we honor God and His values by embracing men who, while imperfect, also chose to honor God? Or will we simply select a candidate who inflames our base emotions but ultimately rejects the principles upon which our nation was founded, ones which sought to honor our Creator? Time will validate which choice we make and whether God is fighting for us or against us… and whether God is no longer on our side.
As the race for the 2016 Republican nomination for President continues to heat up, we have passed the midpoint of the campaign. What started out as a field of nearly two dozen individuals, has now effectively been narrowed to only two viable candidates, Cruz and Trump, and a third who fancies himself a contender. (That “would be contender” is John Kasich, a guy who has lost 35 contests and won only 1!)
Donald Trump, the figurative elephant in the room, leads with 739 delegates while Ted Cruz trails Donald by 274 delegates, with a total of 465 delegates. To earn the Republican nomination a candidate must accumulate a simple majority of the 2,472 delegates available, or 1,237 delegates. The rule of requiring a majority (versus a plurality) has been in place for 160 years.
As I’ve discussed and debated the current status of the Republican campaign with many friends, and as we face the prospects that no candidate will garner the simple majority of 1,237 delegates required, the reality that the Republican nominee will be selected via a contested or brokered convention is becoming more and more likely. However, I am hearing a growing sentiment from many who are suggesting that if neither viable candidate has garnered 1,237 delegates, then Trump should simply be handed the nomination, if he has the most delegates. What this attitude does, though, is it actually disenfranchises the majority of voters who did not vote for Trump. Consider that as of today, approximately 21 million voters have cast ballots in the Republican nomination for POTUS. However, less than 8 million have selected Donald Trump, or only 37% of voters.
In addition to disenfranchising 63% of the voters to date, the other major issue that “handing” the nomination to Trump would do, is it would totally ignore rules that have been in place for 160 years. For a candidate to win the nomination, it’s incumbent that he put together a strategy to win based on the rules of the game. It would not only be unfair, but it would be arrogant and presumptuous for a candidate to enter the race for the nomination and then, when his candidacy does not succeed, he begins to grumble about the rules, rather than look in the mirror and realize that he is the problem, not the rules.
According to an article at The Federalist, since the Republican Party held its first convention in 1856, there have been a total of ten presidential elections where the candidates arrived at the convention without a majority of the delegates. The Party’s process to select a nominee consists of two steps: 1) voting for one’s preferred nominee and, 2) voting for delegates to represent the voters at the party’s convention. The first step results in the awarding of the delegates to the candidates based on differing rules by state, and the second step selects the delegates who will actually choose the nominee at the party’s convention.
When a candidate is able to make the case to the voters that he is the individual most suited to be their nominee, then he will arrive at the convention with his victory already sealed, as has been the case in 75% of the Republican nominations over its 160 year history. However, in those other 25% of presidential elections, for various reasons the leading candidate was unable to persuade a majority of the voters and/or delegates that he was their pick to represent them in the general election. In these instances a contested or brokered convention ensues, with one or more ballots taking place until the delegates are able to coalesce behind the eventual nominee.
Trump boasts often of his skills as a negotiator. So if he truly trusts those superior skills, then he should have no problem in convincing the additional delegates he would need to rally behind him and cast their vote for him on the first ballot. As a side note, its pathetic to hear Trump threatening that if he does not reach the 1,237 delegate and the nomination is not handed to him, there will be riots by his supporters.
So now we come to the question, if Trump does not secure a majority of the delegates by the convention or following the first ballot, what is the path to victory for Ted Cruz?
One of Ted Cruz’s strengths is that of planning, organizing and strategy. No one gave the freshman Senator a ghost of a chance to even be competitive during the 2016 cycle, much less be one of the last two viable candidates competing for the nomination. Yet here he is. And much of it can be attributed to: 1) the fact that Ted’s record affirms he is a consistent, constitutional conservative, and 2) Ted’s understanding of the rules of the game, and his ability to develop a team and strategy to win based on those rules.
So should Trump fail to secure the nomination on the first ballot, there’s a strong indication that many of Donald’s delegates will desert him on the second ballot. When you consider that a number of Trump’s delegates were awarded to him from “winner take all” states, it only stands to reason that some of those delegates will not support him on a subsequent ballot. For instance, in South Carolina, Trump received the plurality of votes and thus he received all 50 delegates in that “winner take all” state. However, Trump only garnered 32% of the vote. So it’s easy to see how that once those delegates are free to vote for another candidate, it’s highly likely many of the delegates will move to Ted Cruz. This is just one example of a number of ways in which Trump will likely lose delegates should he fail to win the nomination either outright prior to the convention or on the first ballot at the convention.
Finally, we should consider that not only is this process following rules that have been in place for 160 years, but one of our nation’s greatest Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, prevailed on the third ballot at the 1860 Republican Convention to win the nomination and ultimately the Presidency. And there have been other instances throughout the history of the GOP where second or third place candidates became the nominee on multiple ballots as reported in this article at The Federalist.
So, if you’re a Ted Cruz supporter, continue to encourage others to support him, remember Ted and his team in your prayers, and share this article with others so they understand how Cruz can absolutely win the nomination if Trump does not reach 1,237 delegates before the convention. And if you are a Trump supporter, I encourage you to remember the rules of the game, hold your candidate accountable to them, and please don’t riot should Trump fail to win according to the rules.
In 1976 the film Network featured a scene in which a fictional TV anchor, in response to the overall decline in America due to inflation, unemployment, crime and a recession, encouraged his viewers to stand up, go to their windows, stick their heads out and yell, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” While the movie was a fictional story, the plot highlighted the mood of a large number of Americans at the time. The relevant scene can be viewed here in case you’ve never seen it. (warning: some strong language)
Similar to the movie Network, if there’s one word that describes many voters 30 years later, it is anger. From the outset of this latest Presidential cycle, we’ve seen poll after poll affirm that voters are absolutely disgusted with politicians in Washington, and the sentiment isn’t limited to one party.
On the Democratic side, we have seen Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist, garner 41% of the vote to date, as democrat voters dismiss the heir apparent, Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, on the Republican side we’ve witnessed voters reject candidates who have any ties to the elite establishment, opting to support Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. In fact, these two candidates have garnered two thirds of the votes cast to date in Republican primaries and caucuses.
It’s understandable that voters have grown angry and frustrated with politicians, particularly on the Republican side. When candidates at all levels campaign on principles that support limited government, promote fiscal responsibility, and champion life and family, voters expect them to govern according to those values, which are affirmed in the Republican platform. Yet, it has become the norm for politicians, once elected, to quickly turn their backs on their campaign promises. Shamefully, these men and women chose the party elite, special interests and big business over the will of the voters who elected them.
While anger is an understandable reaction to these self-serving men and women, is anger in and of itself a reliable response to such betrayal by politicians? Should we trust anger to guide us in our selection of the individual who would lead our nation, and even the free world, in some of the most crucial matters of our time?
There is a proverb that states, “A quick tempered man acts foolishly” and another warns, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” No doubt anger is a natural response when those who should be accountable to us show us such little respect while they trample our Constitution and seek their own self-interest. But it’s one thing to get angry and quite another thing to respond in anger.
Responding in anger leads to many unintended consequences, and as the verses above indicate, it places us in the company of fools, or at least leads to foolish behavior. Throwing a hammer after accidentally hitting your thumb might be a natural response, but it will likely damage a nearby wall. Likewise, choosing a presidential candidate who claims he’ll build a wall, just because we’re angry, without scrutinizing the substance of that candidate, borders on the same foolish behavior. Worse though, the repercussions of such an uninformed decision could prove catastrophic for our nation.
There are a host of decisions of much lesser consequence that we spend hours and even days, at times, deliberating over. When I recently purchased a television, I spent time on the internet researching which brand and features were the best and then made two trips to Best Buy before selecting the TV. And you no doubt have done the same when you purchased your last car, home or perhaps even a toaster. Yet it’s amazing, if not sad, that many in this election cycle are simply selecting a candidate that pushes all the right buttons and says all the right things, because they’re “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.”
The challenge for all of us who are angry over what is taking place in Washington is to use our logic rather than anger to make choices. Logic can guide while anger seeks to mislead. Reason will prevail while rage simply destroys. But will Americans discipline themselves to resist their inner urge to simply “burn it down and start over” as the mantra of some is these days? Will anger reign or reason prevail? The answer to this question may determine what kind of nation we have a year or two from now.
Photo courtesy of Network movie