Our nation has been deeply divided for some time and that division is growing even deeper. Much of this division has occurred because our political leaders have untethered our laws, policies and regulations from the law of the land, our Constitution.
But as bad as this rejection of our Constitution has been by Congress and the President, We the People have still possessed the ability to hold our politicians accountable to our founding document and principles, every two or four years.
But there remain two threats to the rule of law beyond the Executive and Congressional branches. One obvious. Another not so.
In many banana republics around the globe, cruel and unjust dictators are oftentimes deposed via a military coup d’etat — an armed overthrow of a government. It’s interesting to look at the meaning of this French word. According to Wikipedia, coup d’etat is sometimes translated as “blow of the state” or “hit of state” but the literal translation is “stroke of the state” — as in the wiping or stroke of a sword.
To date our nation has never faced a military coup d’etat. This first threat, while a potential, has never been considered a likely one in our Constitutional Republic.
A Judicial Coup d’etat
The second threat though, is not only a real one, but this week it was realized. No shots were fired. No swords were drawn. But as the definition of coup d’etat makes clear, a “blow to the state” took place when unelected citizens in black robes thumbed their nose at the Constitution and law and figuratively arrested America’s duly elected President, placing legal handcuffs on the authority he clearly possesses.
The Ninth Circuit Federal Appeals Court circumvented well established law and precedent that affirmed the authority of President Trump, in his position as Commander in Chief, to administer the immigration laws of our land. One such law, the Immigration and Nationality Act, states in Section 1182(f):
“Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate”
The net effect of the courts decision was that these three unelected judges wrestled the authority for the safety of our citizens from Trump with the stroke of a pen. Sixty-three million citizens elected Donald Trump to protect our nation from a clear and present danger stemming from the loose and dangerous refugee immigration policies of the Obama Administration. The danger posed by radical Islam has been unleashed time and time again in Europe and America over the last couple years. But the court’s decision undermined a duly elected President and left him powerless, for all practical purposes. At least for the time being.
With the stakes growing ever higher, and the willingness by the left to embrace whatever tactic they can devise to block Republicans from governing, rest assured that nothing will be left off the table. Whether it’s the riots and violence in the streets as I wrote about earlier this week, the abuse of long established rules in Congress, or the seizing of authority by the judicial branch that it does not possess, there will be no end to the intimidation, abuses, and other nefarious activities by Democrats and their allies.
And it will only grow worse as unelected and unaccountable men in black establish their superior rule… from the bench.
There’s a quote that is attributed to President Eisenhower that asserts, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” His quote mirrors this more popular saying: “the urgent is enemy of the important.” Both quotes speak to the fact that too often many of us focus our resources and time on matters of an urgent nature, which invariably leads to ignoring or devaluing the important.
To illustrate the concept graphically, I have diagrammed a dot and an arrow. The dot represents the urgent, and the arrow signifies the important. Consider that a dot is short term and finite while an arrow is long-term, and even infinite in some instances, which we’ll explore further below.
This dot and arrow issue is a problem that is seen in human nature across time. Yet, as much as we struggle with this, it’s very difficult to elevate the priority of the important. There’s one story in ancient Jewish history that illustrates this point as well as any.
You may recall the story of Esau and Jacob, twin brothers who were polar opposites, and frequently seemed to be at odds with each other. One day, after Esau had been out hunting for an extended period of time, he returned home famished. In fact, he was so hungry that he was willing to sell his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew. In Jewish tradition, the birthright was reserved for the eldest son and offered significant prestige, the carrying on of the family name, the largest portion of the family inheritance and much more. But Esau, living in the dot of the here and now, devalued his birthright, the arrow, and bartered it to his brother Jacob, for a fleeting meal. While he eventually regretted his decision, there was no reversing the course on which he had set his life. His urgent choice permanently sacrificed the important.
As I’ve thought about the tyranny of the dot versus the arrow, I’ve contemplated how often the urgent trumps the important, as reflected in the following examples.
How often have you set out to complete a number of tasks in a given day when all of a sudden an “urgent” matter appears, out of left field? As quickly as the urgent new priority presents itself, the important tasks that you had committed to completing take a back seat. All of a sudden the important is displaced by the urgent, the end of the day comes, and few, if any, of the important goals are realized. The tyranny of the dot, the urgent, replaces the arrow of the important.
Have you ever been tempted to shortcut quality in favor of quantity in your business or job? This is one of those choices we often face in our business or careers, where the urgent can crowd out the important. The demand to meet a quota, or the need to achieve certain quarterly goals can put us in the predicament of choosing the dot versus the arrow. Will we sacrifice the long-term results to realize some short term gains? If so, we will succumb to the tyranny of the dot.
If ever there was a profession that was known for its short-sightedness, it is politics and politicians. It seems that short term wins are all that a politician cares about, at least the vast majority of them.
How will the next vote benefit me? Can this constituent contribute to my campaign? What position can I take on an issue that will most benefit me? But in asking all of these questions, the professional politician reveals he has very few laudable values or principles that guide him. His dot is the urgency of self-promotion, always seeking the most advantageous path to further his position. Sadly though, whenever this occurs, the arrow, which could be campaign promises or resolute principles, can so quickly be sacrificed.
While all the aforementioned examples are significant, they do not begin to rival the importance and priority of eternity. Perhaps the graphic of the dot and arrow best illustrates this when we compare the dot of our “three score and ten” years on earth with the unending arrow of eternity. Too often, for most of us, we are so easily distracted with the urgency of living in the dot during our short years here on earth, that we tragically short-sell the importance of living for the arrow of eternity, an era when 70 years will seem as a few short seconds and a thousand years will be like a few hours.
There is a verse that warns, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” Yet the sad reality is that too many will do exactly that. We will live for the here and now, for the dot of our earthly existence but in so doing, we sacrifice the arrow, the opportunity to experience an eternity with our Creator, who wills that all mankind join Him.
The Christmas season is a time when many of us take some moments to review the past year, our failures and successes, regrets and achievements. And with the New Year just around the corner, it is also a time when we set new goals, and establish plans to achieve them. As we spend this time of reflection and goal setting, I pray that we will resist the tyranny of the dot and commit ourselves to living for the arrow. In our daily routines, resist the temptation to fall prey to those urgent demands. In our businesses or careers, I trust we will never lose focus on the long-term and excellence. If you’re a politician, recommit yourself to your guiding principles and resist the temptation to self-promote, truly seeking the good of others.
But most importantly, regardless of whether you are a millennial, a baby boomer, or somewhere in between, I trust that you will live your life for the arrow of eternity. If you’re uncertain how to do this, I would encourage you to check out this website: Are You a Good Person?
The dot will soon be over for each of us. Will we be prepared for the arrow? I pray we will. Merry Christmas!
On November 8, 2016 Americans across our great land went to the polls to select their choice for President, and Donald Trump prevailed. His brazen, unorthodox, “lay it all out there” style, attracted the votes of millions of frustrated, disenchanted and angry citizens, who felt their government had abandoned them and its “long train of abuses” were becoming insufferable.
Since his election though, Trump has continued to express himself with little self-discipline, frequently on Twitter, where some of his most controversial statements are made. More often than not, it would appear that Trump gives no thought to what proceeds from his mouth or is typed out on Twitter, ascribing to a “tweet first, think later” strategy.
Case in point. Just this week Trump fired off another one of his ill-advised tweets, where he suggested anyone burning an American flag should be faced with “loss of citizenship or year in jail.” Folks from all across the political spectrum rejected his solution for flag burners, including many in his own party.
With that tweet though, Trump either revealed his contempt for existing law and the First Amendment (the SCOTUS has ruled twice that flag burning is protected under the Constitution), he exposed his utter ignorance, or he continued his flawed “tweet first, think later” routine. Regardless, Trump once again set off a firestorm, and accomplished nothing but to deepen the extreme opposition of those on the left, while creating disharmony for those who voted for him. This discord was expressed this week on my Facebook page, when I shared Trump’s tweet, along with these personal comments:
So for those of you who voted for Trump, what’s your take on this tweet from the President-elect? Do you agree with his view? And if not, does it cause you any concern?
My simple post set off a barrage of over 160 comments in less than 24 hours, with a mixture of strong support and extreme disagreement by those opining. Consider that most of those commenting had voted for Trump.
What was clear though, in the discussion on this one tweet, as well as in many other instances where Trump has pushed the envelope with his nonsensical comments, is that too many of his supporters are willing to cover for, or brush aside, remarks and behavior that should be rebutted or rejected. It’s as if some believe they have elected King Trump, their new sovereign ruler, who can do no wrong.
Note what Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had to say, when questioned about his vote affirming the First Amendment right protecting flag burning: “If I were king, I would not allow people to go around burning the American flag. However, we have a First Amendment which says that the right of free speech shall not be abridged — and it is addressed in particular to speech critical of the government. That was the main kind of speech that tyrants would seek to suppress.”
Most people, whether in America or in other less democratic nations, are attracted to strong leaders. Perhaps it’s because many individuals are followers. Or maybe it’s because over the course of world history, civilization after civilization has been ruled by strong leaders, whether kings, monarchs, dictators, or tyrants. Perhaps our DNA includes the predisposition for someone with great authority to rule over us, as we hope he will defeat injustice and elevate what is right. Of course, there has never been a dearth of elite men and women over the ages who have been both willing and eager to step into the role of ruler, or king.
But, America is unique.
Prior to our founding, world history was void of any great civilization whose ideology was based on the premise that “all men are created equal” and that its government would derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” But in our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, the concept that “We the People” ruled and our government leaders were subservient to us, was injected into our nation’s DNA. This new truth became the cornerstone of America, and differentiated us from all other peoples.
But 240 years later, our federal government, a behemoth that has no comparable in world history, has grown to a point where its tentacles have expanded into every area of our life. Government “of the people, by the people and for the people” has become a distant and inconsequential idea. And too many Americans have fallen for the errant idea that our President is our sovereign leader and ruler.
So as Americans have shirked their solemn responsibility, that of being an engaged citizen, they have also distanced themselves from the significance of state and local rule. This has led to an infection of the DNA of old, where many voters seek a sovereign national leader who can reverse all the wrongs and order all the rights. The much condemned “pen and the phone” policy of Barack Obama by those who opposed him, is now being embraced by many of those same Americans, with their new King Trump.
But we must remember, there is no King Trump. The truth is “We the People” are sovereign. Donald Trump works for us. And like any entrepreneur knows, employees are accountable to the business owner. Our founding fathers had the wisdom to establish our unique Constitutional Republic, which places the responsibility of power in the hands of the citizens. As such, it is both your responsibility and duty to keep your elected officials in check, including those who are strong willed, loud mouthed and twitter-addicted.
A Course of Action
Most companies have what is called a progressive disciplinary system, where an errant employee can receive verbal warnings, followed by written warnings, then suspension and ultimately termination if such employee is unwilling to reform his ways. In our system of government a similar system exists, but we must avail ourselves of it.
Our elected officials, in this case Donald Trump, should be treated as our employee. He works for you and me. He reports to us. So it’s incumbent for you and me to offer feedback to him and express our concerns openly to others. Initially we may simply express those concerns verbally. But if he continues in his errant ways, then we must escalate to written warnings, perhaps in the form of an email or a reply to an ill-advised tweet. But ultimately, if Donald Trump, or any other elected official, rejects or ignores the counsel of those who employ him, then voters will have to decide whether to retain such an individual in his position.
I pray Donald Trump will begin to act more Presidential, as he seeks to “drain the swamp” as most of his supporters are eager to see happen. But should Trump renege on campaign promises, or continue to speak and act in a manner that is unsuited to the leader of the free world, then who knows but that four years from now, the man who made his TV fame on the hit series, The Apprentice, may end up hearing his own famous words from voters:
I trust that will not be the case. But we must never forget that it is not only the right of “We the People” but it is our duty.
Proverbs 29:20 — “There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.”
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.
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams
One would have to be asleep at the wheel these days to not recognize the all out assault on some of the most basic truths of life. One truth under such attack is that the two distinct sexes, male and female, are determined solely at conception. Whether you arrive at this conclusion biologically, theologically, or both, this truth has been known and understood from the beginning of time. But if you’re ever unsure, you need only undress in front of a mirror for self-validation. The evidence is indisputable.
Transgenderism falsely challenges this truth.
Today we have reached a new era, or more accurately, we have fallen to a new low. This low is one that rejects facts, both scientific and observable, preferring to embrace feelings, even when they contradict undeniable truths. The transgender lie affirms that a “her” today may become a “him” tomorrow, or vice versa, simply by feeling such. So a Bruce from birth can wake up one morning and assert he is now a she, change his name to Caitlyn, and begin a new life based on a lie. And the cultural-elite affirm the lie, deny the truth, and disparage the truth-affirming “bigots.”
When we were growing up and we feared a boogie man under our bed, our parents would teach us to confront our fear because it was untrue. There was no boogie man. It was merely a false feeling. So obviously, a parent would reveal the fear for what it was — a lie and encourage the child to embrace the truth and reject the lie. Doing anything else as a parent would not only be irresponsible, it would be hurtful to the child, and reveal the negligence of the parent.
Today though, we have men and women and even boys and girls who fear or reject what they were created to be from the moment of conception, either male or female. But rejecting that truth, and feeling something other than the truth, does not change reality. But what is most tragic isn’t the person who is struggling with whether to reject facts and embrace feelings. The most tragic reality, that is even dangerous, is a society, culture, and politicians who wrongly affirm a person’s feelings, when those feelings are diametrically opposed to facts.
Rather than affirming a lie, we should expose the lie. And lovingly help that person whose mental processes have been short circuited from reality.
The Political Battle
On the political front though, our nation is facing a crossroads moment. Will we cower as a tyrant continues to assert his fundamental transformation of our nation, or will we reject his latest edicts and refuse to comply with the lies he perpetrates as he leads our nation further and further into the abyss of moral confusion and depravity?
The unconstitutional edict President Obama announced, via his Department of Education and Department of Justice, is that all public schools, “as a condition of receiving Federal funds” must now make decisions about their students based on their “gender identity” versus their biological sex. So a male who now “feels” he is a female, will be entitled to enter and use the female restrooms, locker rooms, showers, and housing and overnight accommodations. No longer will objective truth as affirmed on one’s birth certificate prevail. Rather, subjective feelings that deny the truth will rule the day. And while our nation will have furthered a lie of a very small minority of mentally troubled individuals, it will trample on the safety, privacy and dignity of millions of young students.
As mentioned, our nation is at a crossroad moment resulting from Obama’s dictator-type edict. The crossroad we face is what will our response be to Obama’s latest “fundamental transformation?” Will we stand up to our own 2016 version of “King George” and declare our independence from the tyranny of lies, thuggery and intimidation?
This is one moment when “We the People” must rise up and beat back the tyranny of men. But it will require our state Governors and legislators to assert a backbone that all too frequent is missing.
We have seen a number of governors step up and announce they will categorically reject Obama’s edict. But there are others, like my own Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, who have issued weak, timid statements, as they have done on nearly every other constitutional assault by Obama. If there is ever an issue where people across the entire political spectrum are in agreement, it is this. No responsible Mom or Dad would accept the notion that their 13 year old daughter could be changing clothes or showering next to a boy who simply asserts he “feels” like he is a girl. Rather, they are concerned about the safety, dignity, privacy, and decency of their child. And while our nation has fallen a long way, I still believe those values are important to 99% of parents across this land.
So will our elected officials step forward and challenge Washington’s tyrant with their own line in the sand? Feckless politicians will not. And we have too many of them. But principled leaders will, regardless of the threats from a tyrant, the screams of the political activists, or the maligning of a leftist media. Because principle will stand in the face of the storm, understanding that if our Republic is to stand, human passions must be bridled by “morality and religion” and absent that, our constitution is “wholly inadequate” to govern such a people.