Ryan and Santorum Disagree on Meaning of Democrats’ VA Election Sweep

Nearly every observer has an interpretation of yesterday’s electoral sweep of Virginia by the Democratic Party, the first significant, positive performance the party has displayed since the election of Donald Trump.

President Trump quickly tossed gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie beneath a bus after his loss, which unexpectedly was by 9 points, despite the fact that Trump had tweeted and robo-called in support of Gillespie just before the election. He likes winners, you see, and those who “embrace” him.

 

But Gillespie was not a winner, despite not only Trump’s endorsement, but the Trumpian atmosphere of his campaign, which included strong criticism of his opponent Ralph Northam via ads on the issues of illegal immigration and sanctuary cities, as well as echoes of the president on Confederate monuments and kneeling NFL players.

He wasn’t the only Republican loser on Tuesday; it was a sweep.

Democrats also won at least 14 seats in the state’s House of Delegates and could gain control of the chamber for the first time since 2000, depending on the outcomes of four races that qualify for recount, The Washington Post reported.

Additionally, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio won reelection and Chris Christie, formerly among the most unpopular governors in the country, certainly contributed to his Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno’s loss in her bid to replace him — she was defeated Democrat

So what happened in Virginia? Is this a rejection of Trump, dissatisfaction with the performance of the Republican Congress, or both? (The New Yorker triumphantly finds Trumpism in decline. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Rick Santorum came down on opposite each other in their interpretations of the results.

Ryan spoke at a tax reform event held by The Washington Examiner. Responding to the election results in the context of the GOP’s new tax bill, he said the following:

“It doesn’t change my reading of the current moment. It just emphasizes my reading of the current moment which is we have a promise to keep…. We’ve got to get on with keeping our promise, and one of the chief promises we made when we ran for office … in 2016 was that we would do tax reform and tax cuts for families, for people, and so we’ve got to get on with that.”

He went on to say, that “If anything, this just puts more pressure on making sure we follow through…That’s what I take out of it. I adore Ed Gillespie. I feel bad that he lost, but I think it simply means we’ve got to deliver.”

The Republican party is even less popular than Trump himself, as is Congress as a whole. Despite majorities in both houses, the GOP has accomplished almost nothing of its legislative agenda. Most victories for Trump are the fleeting sort executive orders bring. That makes Ryan’s (and Trump’s) interpretation plausible.

Santorum had a different interpretation. Appearing on CNN on a panel analyzing the results, the former Pennsylvania senator blamed Trump’s “Twitter bombs” and “personal attacks”, arguing that “it is hurting him” and the Republican Party. (“Everyone is telling him that.”)  He went on to say that the voters who were turned off by Trump in Virginia, not because they were opposed to his agenda, but because they were opposed to the way he demeans others in public. That doesn’t include his treatment of the media, which Santorum believes goes over very well.

While Santorum acknowledged the lack of legislative accomplishment, he alluded to promises made by Trump in that regard, implying that a lack of leadership on the part of the president was at least in part responsible for Republicans having nothing to show for their nearly ten months of control of the federal government. In other words, the buck stops in the Oval Office.

Ironically, prior to Trump’s election, Santorum sought to appeal to the same working class voters Trump did, adopting unusually protectionist economic positions for a Republican. He validated Trump’s popularity in debates as well. By contrast, Ryan kept his distance from Trump for some time, and even easily fought off a supposedly Trump-like primary challenger, before ultimately embracing the inevitability of the Donald. Now the two appear to have flipped in where their locate the blame and aim their criticisms, and thus how they see Tuesday’s results.

Perhaps the answer simply is that all politics is local. That at least appears to have been the case in New York and New Jersey. Everyone wants to read the tea leaves in Virginia though, hoping to gain some insight into the future of the Trump presidency and Trumpism. Personally, I think it’s doubtful that this one case study can tell us much. What do you think?

The Eagles Offense Was So Good Yesterday, It Caused This Unforeseen Problem

It’s good to be a Philadelphia Eagles fan these days, unless you need the experience of stadium gimmicks to pump you up and have a good time.

Yesterday’s 51-23 crushing of the Denver Broncos led the team to a league-best 8 wins with only 1 loss. The “offensive explosion” meant that so many fireworks were shot off after Eagles scores that the stadium ran out of them, according to Fox 29. Fans were informed by a post from the team’s Twitter account.

It’s a good problem to have.

Having lived abroad for a year starting shortly after the beginning of last football season, I have had difficulty keeping up with the NFL. Carson Wentz, the Eagles quarterback, is a relatively new name to me. He was impressive in the game — cool, in command, and throwing perfect passes, but competitive enough to show frustration when a solid run of his came up a yard short of first-and-goal at the 1-yard line.

CBS switched coverage to the Titans-Ravens game in the middle of the third quarter, so I witnessed only two-thirds of the game. I’m not sure if the programming change was because the outcome of the game — by that point a 38-6 non-contest — was inevitable, or because Wentz was given the rest of the night off after his four touchdown passes (he has thrown that many in three of his last five games to lead the league with 23) created that very inevitability.

Though Wentz isn’t having quite the passing season as are Tom Brady and Alex Smith (who finally threw his first interception of the season yesterday), he looks excellent for a second-year quarterback. His stats are especially impressive when consideration is given to the fact that he was a Division I-AA quarterback at North Dakota State. (His draft position, second overall in 2016, is the highest ever for any player from a non-Division I-A school.)

Because Wentz and his teammates look unstoppable, I’m calling the Eagles as the NFC’s representative at Super Bowl LII. In fact, I am predicting that US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis will host the first all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl, not just because the Pittsburgh Steelers are my favorite team, but because they are looking increasingly strong and resilient in comparison to the waning Chiefs and Patriots.

Regardless of whether my prognostication comes to pass, from the looks of the Eagles’ offense yesterday, the team had better stock a lot more fireworks along the way.

The Media’s Fake News About the Manhattan Terrorist Attack

Yesterday, a 29-man named Sayfullo Saipov plowed through a bicycle path in Lower Manhattan with a white truck, resulting in the death of 8 and the injuring of 11 more.

Along with the lives lost, an additional casualty of the attack is liberals’ ability to recognize reality: among them, that the culprit of this act of terrorism adhered to what he at least understood to be Islam and carried out the attack for the advancement of the self-described “Islamic State.”

As reported by the Daily Wire, a CNN host began by choosing to withhold from his report the description of the attacker the network had obtained by the police. Then, as Newsbusters reported, an MSNBC terror analyst denied any role Islam might have played in the attack, because — and get this — “we have seen Catholics in Canada who converted to, quote unquote, Islam.” He went on to suggest that the attacker may have been Catholic two weeks before. Of course, he did not even consider the implications of a correlation between religious conversion and radicalized actions. Certainly a nascent convert is in a poor position to understand the true embodiment of his new faith, but whether the conversion is a justification for an act he wished to undertake or the misappropriated object of the act itself, it is an indispensable psychological component to his actions.

It is routine in the wake of ISIS-related attacks to discount the importance of the role played by Islam, just as it is routine in the wake of attacks by white males to point out the number of terrorists who have been white or Christian, or even to question why some attacks carried out by white males are not labeled terrorism. The Las Vegas shooting is only the most recent example of this. A Newsweek article on the subject is typical, and only one of many. It points out the differences between Nevada law and federal law on the subject, as well as what President Obama defined as terrorism in addressing the Boston Marathon bombing.

But presidential remarks do not such a vital definition make, and a law contains merely a legal definition of what can be designated terrorism for the purpose of charging a perpetrator with that specific crime. What we are concerned with here is not terrorism as a crime, but terrorism as a tactic. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what Obama said or even what Nevada law says; for observers nationwide, terrorism is not understood to be something so broad as an act intended to harm innocent civilians or “intended to cause great bodily harm or death to the general population.” Federal law comes closest to the standard academic definition: “unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” Motiveless attacks are, by any meaningful definition, not terror.

Despite the obviousness of this distinction, the media seem intent of muddying the waters when the facts regarding the motives themselves are not in dispute. The first fact — that the attack was carried out by vehicle, like an increasing number of ISIS-related terrorist attacks in Europe have been — should at least have tipped everyone off to the possibility. But again, terrorism is a tactic, and a vehicular attack could be employed in service of any cause. The second fact, which CNN ultimately reported — that the attacker yelled “allahu akbar” — should have sealed the deal.

Additional facts, such as the description of Saipov the CNN host initially withheld — which would have included a photo and the fact that he was from Uzbekistan, a country which is over 96 percent Muslim — would merely strengthen the already obvious conclusion about his motive. Ultimately, a note was found inside the attacker’s vehicle “claiming the attack was made in the name of ISIS.” Case closed.

But the first aim of the liberals in the mainstream media is not to report facts, but to advance (or undermine) certain narratives. No wonder we’re so suspicious of fake news these days.

Of course the vast majority of Muslims are neither terrorists nor approve of terror. Of course the bulk of terrorist attacks are wholly unrelated to Islam. Of course President Bush was right when he said we are not at war with Islam. The left appears not to trust those facts when it withholds the facts about specific attacks. In order to combat what it considers to be fake news about Islam and terrorism, it creates fake news about specific terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims. Ostensibly, the media don’t trust ignorant Americans to come to the right conclusions, but they undermine their own authority to place terrorists in their proper context whenever they lie by omission.

Even if we decide that true Islam has absolutely nothing to do with creating terrorists such as Saipov, it is imperative to understand what terrorists believe that drives them to use such tactics. It is vital to get inside their heads, in order to understand how to prevent such attacks in the future. We cannot combat what we willingly choose not to see.

Kid Rock Tells Howard Stern If He’s Running for Senate

For several months, Kid Rock has teased the possibility that he would jump into the race for the Senate seat in his (and my) home state of Michigan. A successful bid for for the Republican nomination would set him against three-term, incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow. The potential that the GOP would double down on the decision to nominate unpolished, tell-it-like-it-is candidates with celebrity creds in place of actual governing experience has been more likely than that he would actually run, despite performances to the contrary at his shows and hints dropped via Twitter all summer long.

But again, how many times did Donald Trump flirt with running for president before his decision to actually do it in 2016? He floated the idea in four straight decades without a serious run, enough that many observers didn’t take him seriously until he actually became a candidate. On top of that, as The Daily Beast reported, Rock himself claims that Trump-backer Steve Bannon encouraged him to run. If Bannon seriously just wants to watch the world burn, the opinionated “Bawitdaba” singer with absolutely zero political knowledge or experience is an ideal pick. So it isn’t insane for those analysts who were outflanked — by Trump’s successful run — in attempting to predicting what was possible to assume that Rock might just be serious.

Polls have showed Rock trailing Stabenow significantly in polls despite his platinum-sales-level name recognition — aside from two polls, one solid one from the Trafalgar Group and one from “Delphi Analytica” of questionable legitimacy. Of course, polls often missed the mark on Trump’s primary and election day performance as well, so they wouldn’t seal the deal. I’m not sure if it would be worse to nominate him if he did have a chance in the general than if he didn’t.

Those of us not looking to burn it all down can breathe a collective sigh of relief: Kid Rock is not running for Senate.

On Howard Stern’s show this morning, Rock told the shock jock host that the tease was just that, in a statement of vocabulistic acuity typical of both Stern’s guests and Rock himself:

F— no, I’m not running for Senate. Are you kidding me? Who couldn’t figure that out? I’m releasing a new album. I’m going on tour too. Are you f—ing sh–ing me?

He also managed to call The New York Timesa little bit gay,” which no doubt delights anyone otherwise disappointed that they won’t be able to roll with Rock (electorally) next year.

Rather than punch the ticket for Senator Kid Rock in November of 2018, you can pick up his new album in November of 2017. That is as close as I will ever get to promoting his music — despite the fact that some of his headbangers are a guilty pleasure of mine. Promoting the new album and the accompanying tour was perhaps his aim. Rock explained that “even people in his circle who were ‘in on the joke’ started to take it seriously,” according to the Detroit Free Press. “‘No, we’re not doing it,’ he said he’d tell them, ‘but let’s roll with it for a while.’

The game must come to an end eventually it seems. Sadly, not all frightening campaign prospects follow that same law. Michigan Republicans interested in holding on to some small semblance of sanity in the party can loosen their grip on their chairs as they read this. Kid Rock is not running for Senate.

The Weinstein Fallout and the Lack of Moral Character

Regarding the Weinstein sexual harassment and assault situation, The Washington Post recently asked why so many men are confused about the concept of consent. I responded that, in fact, they are not confused, they just don’t care. It is not a knowledge problem, but a morality problem.

Now, of course, the #metoo social media movement has highlighted what may be a disparity between what men consider to be sexual harassment and what women do. But Harvey Weinstein’s (and Bill Clinton’s and Bill Cosby’s and Woody Allen’s and Roman Polanski’s and Roger Ailes’) actions don’t stem from confusion about what is acceptable behavior toward women, but a lack of moral character.

The lack of moral character in Hollywood is sometimes evinced not by actual sexual misconduct, but by the stunning silence that surrounds the open secrets of the producers, directors, actors and more who engage in it. Dozens of women have leveled allegations against Weinstein alone. The list includes, but is not limited to, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Mira Sorvino, Rosanna Arquette, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale. There are many more names on the list. The stories got around: Jessica Barth told her friend Seth McFarlane, who then joked about Weinstein when he hosted the 2013 Oscars as a way to “stand up to” Weinstein. Even when he wasn’t sexually harassing women, he was threatening and bully them. For just that reason, Kate Winslet ‘deliberately’ did not thank him during her Oscar acceptance speech in 2009 for a movie he produced.

Yet, despite the jokes and the pointed passings over, Weinstein’s behavior was not addressed. Until now. Now everyone in Hollywood is eager to denounce the behavior of a man whose behavior they were well aware of and that they did nothing about. The whole thing drips with moral cowardice. (To be clear, not the fact that many women did not come forward until now; that itself is a product of the lack of action by those in Hollywood who knew.)

It is not difficult to see how such a thing could come about and be perpetuated. Fox News recently dug up an old story in The Washington Post in which it was reported that Weinstein helped pay Bill Clinton’s legal bills during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Birds of a feather protect sexual harassers together. The original Post story reveals that he was just one of many Hollywood liberals to do so:

Further details about Clinton’s testimony emerged on the same day that the president’s legal defense fund announced it has raised $2.2 million in the last six months, more than was collected during the previous four years of his presidency combined. The newly reconstituted defense fund, operating with looser rules about who can give and how much they can offer, tapped into resentment against Starr as more than 17,000 Clinton supporters sent money.

Hollywood was quick to come to the president’s aid. Among the 62 donors giving the maximum $10,000 were performers and directors such as Tom Hanks, Barbra Streisand, Michael Douglas, Ron Howard, Norman Lear, Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw-Spielberg as well as studio executives Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Geffen, Harvey Weinstein and Bud Yorkin.

Ultimately, they supported a man who turned out to have lied under oath and obstructed justice — a man who has been accused of not only infidelity, but harassment and rape, numerous times. Whether this was done out of naivete, or because political allegiance (like Hollywood job opportunities) trump character for so many, is irrelevant. A cabal worked with the end result of protecting a man repeatedly-accused of sexual misconduct while in a position of power over women. With that in mind, it is not difficult to see how a similar cabal could have kept the Weinstein situations quiet. Even Winslet, who chose not to thank him in her Oscar speech, has defended her work with Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. The same thing is almost certainly keeping sexual abuse of young boys from being addressed — within the very industry that awarded Spotlight the Best Picture Oscar, a film about the investigation of the Catholic Church around Boston covering up the same thing.

It is not for lack of knowledge that these actions are evil that they are not addressed. Hollywood pats itself on the back for recognizing that, as Spotlight’s Oscar shows. It is that the morally cowardly enable the evil people among them. That is why the primary value of moral education is in inculcating not knowledge, but habits, for habits, over time, build character, and character — strong character — is what holds up to the pressure of those abusing power. By extension, the moral value of Christianity is not in providing rules to affect behavior, but in changing who we are. As the second chapter of Romans tells us, the Gentiles know and keep the Law instinctively.

Except for when they don’t.

Almost every human being has sufficient moral sense to know what is right in situations like this and many others. Many even want to do right, but we quite often fail — the author of Romans included, as he tells us five chapters later. We fail because moral decisions, even ones that benefit us individually, are hard, especially when they are not habits. This is why Thalerian nudges are so popular with people who simultaneously dislike control over their lives.

Among the problems with Thalerian behavioral economics, for which Richard Thaler was recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, is that it easily can become the lazy man’s substitute for character. Everyone wants to do what is right, but only if it is easy. By contrast, character, defined using some economic terms, is the ability to withstand the nudge of incentives toward badness. The charge of virtue is frightening, hence Augustine’s prayer that the Lord make him pure, “but not yet.”

Perhaps there is nothing wrong with nudges toward the sort of amoral maximizing of utility that these days constitutes a little too much of the metaphysical basis of economic science. That’s just it though: maximizing utility is one thing; substituting an external restraining power on “will and appetite” for the inner one atrophies the muscle of character. Burke knew of the need for inner moral restraints, but he wrote of it in contrast to the (external) formal control of the French state following the Revolution. He appears not to have anticipated the contemporary evolution to the form the external sort of restraint takes today, which is courtesy of the anthropology of homo economicus. By rigging the market, we hope to have our cake and eat it too, remaining free while encouraging virtue, misappropriating institutions to our own degradation.

One effect of the overextension of market (or other institutional) incentives toward good behavior in place of robust moral development is that, like the air in a half-inflated mattress when sat upon, vice collects wherever it finds the least resistance. Sin taxes, for example, have been found not to decrease sin, but to shift it elsewhere.

That is why moral education is so necessary: to build habits, and eventually character, that will keep us standing in the face of incentives to protect our own tribes, our own comfort or our own economic and job prospects. Those who held — and continue to hold — the open secrets of Hollywood’s sexual abuse and do nothing, and likewise those of us who would rather we were forced or incentivized to do good than to leave it up to our will, undermine a free society intended to empower the individual. The responsibility that comes with liberty and with power includes the personal responsibility to build habits of strong moral character in each of us, for as Burke observed, “It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

Stage-4 Cancer Can’t Hold This American Hero Back

Sometimes it takes the worst tragedies to bring out the qualities that restore our faith in humanity. Hurricane Harvey has left us with more than devastation: in its aftermath, numerous people have performed heroically, saving other human beings and animals. There was this man who now famously  took his boat out to “save some lives.”

Houston police officer Bert Ramon is another man doing extraordinary things in a trying time. He says the need to rescue so many in Houston helped him to find faith and purpose.

He was looking and praying for purpose since he has been battling stage-4 colon cancer, which had confined him to desk work. But the desperate times Harvey has wrought meant that no one who can help is turned away.

Ramon has since helped rescue nearly 1500 people.

CBS News reports that in spite of the fact that he had his most recent round of chemotherapy on Sunday, he feels fine:

“I said, ‘hey, I’m fine.’ I said, ‘don’t hold me back. I’ll go wherever I need to be,'” he recounted.

Asked if he ever thought it might be a bad idea, Ramon said, “No it never crossed my mind at all – never.”

He put his health concerns on hold, for the city he swore to serve.

Ramon braved the “apocalypse” — his words — that is post-Harvey Houston, saving people in desperate situations, from children to senior citizens, while all the time his platelet counts were low, meaning that he can bump, bruise and bleed especially easily. The cancer has spread from his colon to his liver and lungs. His wife Cindy knows this, but she also knows there is no way to keep him from doing his job.

“He looks at me and I say you crazy. He says ‘I’m going.’ ‘I’m going in,'” Cindy said.

Ramon is not the only police officer who has performed his duty in spite of hardship. Reportedly, the homes of over 400 officers were destroyed or damaged, but they stayed on duty anyway, which should remind everyone of the power of putting others before yourself.

We should remember as well that the vast majority of police across our nation are ready and willing to do the most difficult and dangerous jobs to rescue others. It is this sort of self-sacrificial heroism that truly makes America great, especially when it is accompanied by faith and prayer.

“God answered my prayer. It came out of this flood. I hope I can inspire other cancer patients that you know don’t let this hold you back. If you feel strong, don’t let it take over your life at all,” Ramon said.

The Place for Prosperity in the Church is Within Community

One of the most distinctly American movements in the contemporary church is that of the “prosperity gospel.” Joel Osteen’s million dollar smile probably cost that much. Leroy Thompson is not lying when he says “money cometh to me now.” It seems that the prosperity its proponent ministers teach is mostly their own. Treating Christianity as a self-help strategy or a get-rich-quick scheme impoverishes the soul and critics have correctly targeted the singularly-focused teaching that takes verses out of context.

Growing up, I was exposed to many of the more moderate manifestations of the prosperity gospel, for which reason I think that there are valuable lessons to glean from it which had been underappreciated in Christianity previously for some time. Placing the popular verses back into the contexts in which they would have been understood when written helps us to see an overlooked aspect of God’s character without the insular focus of the prosperity gospel movement.

One example of such proper interpretation is to recognize that provision, even prosperity, should be understood within the context of Christian community, not Western individualism. This is not to criticize Western individualism, but simply to say that interpreting God’s promises in our contemporary context prevents us from understanding His will as He was conveying it in these scriptures.

Acts 4:32-35 tells of the new Church in which everyone had everything in common. They did not sell everything they had, as they continued to meet in the homes of some of the early Christians. They did, however, sell their surplus often in the form of land, giving the money for the provision of the Church.

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

Among other things, Luke is making reference to promises from Deuteronomy in order to draw a line of consistency and inheritance from the Israelites and the early church. The first six verses of the fifteenth chapter of Deuteronomy reads as follows:

“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a remission of debts. This is the manner of remission: every creditor shall release what he has loaned to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother, because the Lord’s remission has been proclaimed. From a foreigner you may exact it, but your hand shall release whatever of yours is with your brother. However, there will be no poor among you, since the Lord will surely bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, if only you listen obediently to the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all this commandment which I am commanding you today. For the Lord your God will bless you as He has promised you, and you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow; and you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you.”

Reading these two scriptures together and considering the context, we can see blessing and provision alongside community. The Lord promised the nation of Israel that there would be no poor among them because he would bless their land. At the same time, debts were to be periodically canceled among neighbors. God wanted His people to prosper to the point of avoiding poverty, but no one was to become rich from others, at least through lending, within the community. Certainly, it was entirely possible for God to bless Israel to the extent that they never went into debt or could afford it, making such a commandment unnecessary. But in addition to provision and prosperity, He also fostered solidarity. The Israelites were to bless each other as fellow members of people; that is to say, prosperity did not only come directly from God, but also through people learning to act like Him.

Luke deliberately words his story in a similar manner to that in Deuteronomy, drawing the lineage of God’s chosen people to the new Christian Church. Here we see again that God ensured that no one would be poor. How did he do it? Partly God blessed individuals and the Church directly; partly he provided indirectly through some members of the Church. (Deuteronomy 15:6 shows that the source of prosperity can come from outside.)

Some people are blessed with substantial inheritance, good fortune or exceptional talent that brings them great wealth. Others are blessed to know these people. The Lord can make anyone wealthy at anytime if he wishes, but it is important to remember that just much as the Lord is interested in blessing and prospering all of his people, he is interesting in making them more like him. He wants to make them more giving and less selfish. He wants to them to become more thankful and less prideful. He wants them to be in communion with each other, just as he wants to be in communion with them.

It is easy from an individualistic Western perspective to interpret verses regarding material blessings, provision and prosperity — such as the ones in Deuteronomy 15 (see also verse 10) — in a way that we expect them to be fulfilled personally and directly. It may be done that way, but it is at least as likely that there is to be an element of human community to it as well. For every Proverbs 10:22 in scripture, there is a Luke 3:11.

Verses about prosperity and blessing should not be interpreted as a get-rich-quick scheme, but as part of God’s plan to simultaneously provide for his people and bring them together. If you are a successful businessman, for example, part of God’s will for your wealth is to bless the Church, from those who are temporarily down and out to the underprivileged to those in poor countries. If you have no talent for bringing in money, but minister in other ways, He wants to provide for you in part through the wealth of others.

His promises apply to us individually in the sense that we are all a part of His people. Understanding that is the key to moving from dangerous misapplications of scripture that only result in self-centeredness and disappointment to truly blessing and being blessed by others.

Reminder: Democrats Would Cancel Elections Too




Yesterday, I reported on a disturbing poll from the Washington Post that found that more than half of Republicans would be willing to postpone the 2020 election if Trump proposed it in order to make sure no non-citizens vote. The Constitution allows for no such act by the president and U.S. Code as passed by Congress has delegated such decisions to states, but what is most concerning is the trust that Republicans appear to have in a particular man, whether personally or for partisan reasons, rather than our constitutional system. It is the sort of trust in politicians and government uncharacteristic of Americans, and which could put freedom and limited government in jeopardy.

I say that it is uncharacteristic of Americans, but perhaps it isn’t anymore. The instinct to trust “our guy” over a system of the rule of law (not men), check and balances, separation of powers, federalism — in short, our Constitutional system — is present in dangerous doses on both sides of the aisle. Erick was right when he wrote about this bipartisan problem yesterday and pointed out that these headlines about polls like WaPo’s are all the rage now because “they focus on the Republicans right now because of Trump.” So let’s focus on Democrats who do the same.




A little over a year ago, the polling outfit WPA Research found that 67 percent of Democrats “would cancel the 2016 presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump if it meant President Obama could serve another term,” as The Hill reported. Fascinating here was the dislike not only in Trump — predictable coming from Democrats — but the comparative dislike of Clinton compared with Obama.

The usual caveats about the reliability of this poll in terms of question ordering and wording should be mentioned; they apply to both this poll and the WaPo poll of which the shocking results from Republicans were reported. That said, let me pose two questions that I posed elsewhere in response to criticisms of the WaPo poll yesterday.

First, if you believe this poll is incorrect, how far off do you think the results are? Second, how far from the truth do the results need to be before you’re comfortable? If only 30 percent of Republicans would postpone an election because Trump said non-citizens would vote, would that not concern you? If only 40 percent of Democrats really favored canceling the 2016 elections and letting Barack Obama serve a third term, would it no longer be scary? Where do you think the number really is, and is it a number that makes you comfortable?

Now, it appears that Republicans have a better excuse for postponing an election — and they were asked about postponing it, not canceling it, as Democrats were in the WPA Research poll. Republican responses correlated with concerns over the number of non-citizens they believed had voted in past elections. The assumptions about the extent of vote fraud were based on wildly speculative survey results, the methodology of which, as I mentioned yesterday, has been thoroughly criticized and can’t hold up to common sense — but at least there was a reason.

That said, I’m willing to bet that the crossover between the Democrats who responded that they would cancel the 2016 election and give Obama a third term and the Democrats who think that “Russia tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected President.” According to a YouGov poll, that’s 55 percent of Democrats, even though there is no evidence that hacking of vote tallies occurred. Democrats can come up with concerns about the validity of election results just like Republicans can, and they can be just as bad.

That said, the real reasons for these responses is probably tribalism. To understand what I’m getting at, here’s another test: if your reasoning for postponing an election or holding a do-over is that it is likely fraudulent — say because of non-citizens voting or because Russia hacked voting machines and changed votes — then you will be okay with doing so regardless of which party proposed it. Republicans: if Barack Obama had postponed the 2016 election because he said illegal immigrants were going to vote in large numbers, would you have supported him? Democrats: if Donald Trump said intelligence reports confirmed a risk that Russian hackers could change votes and postponed the 2020 election until the danger was dealt with, would you support him?

That’s what I thought.

Abraham Lincoln famously said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” North Korea’s bellicosity may be grabbing the headlines this week, but if the American system of government continues to lose priority in comparison with a preferred strongman, it would be just as destructive to the Republic, if not more completely. Perhaps before we call the next election the most important in our lifetime, just like the last four, we can recognize that our country does not rise or fall from a single election, but by the continued effort of its citizens to preserve it beyond Election Day. It is time to relearn the lessons of history and liberty.