My doctoral dissertation was on Noah Webster, widely considered America’s first schoolmaster. His Speller taught generations how to read; his 1828 Dictionary was unique, not only in its being the first produced by an American, but in its Biblical basis. Webster’s illustrations for words included Biblical citations and short homilies on the significance of some key words. His influence in early America was great.

Noah Webster Books

I’m highlighting him today because he offered insight to his generation when it came to choosing political leaders. His words are timeless; they apply to our current situation.

“In selecting men for office,” Webster urged, “let principles be your guide. . . . Look to his character as a man of known principle, of tried integrity, and undoubted ability for the office.”

To ignore lack of principle and integrity in a candidate is to violate the sacred trust given to us as citizens:

When a citizen gives his vote to a man of known immorality, he abuses his civic responsibility; he not only sacrifices his own responsibility; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country.

Webster continued: “If rulers are bad men, it is generally the fault of the people.” After all, who puts men of depraved character in office? We can too often be deceived by them, he notes, but often we vote them in simply because they belong to “our” party. Here’s how he framed it:

Noah WebsterThey choose men, not because they are just men, men of religion and integrity, but solely for the sake of supporting a party [emphasis mine]. This is a fruitful source of public evils.

But as surely as there is a God in heaven, who exercises a moral government over the affairs of this world, so certainly will the neglect of the divine command, in the choice of rulers, be followed by bad laws and as bad administration.

I trust you know why I chose to emphasize that one phrase in the quote above.

By 1837, Webster was becoming distraught by what he was seeing in the culture and politics of his nation. He wrote to a friend,

Principles, sir, are becoming corrupt, deeply corrupt; & unless the progress of corruption, & perversion of truth can be arrested, neither liberty nor property will long be secure in this country.

And a great evil is, that men of the first distinction seem, to a great extent, to be ignorant of the real, original causes of our public distresses. Many of our greatest men are making vigorous efforts to remove present evils, but not an effort is made to correct the radical cause of our political calamities.

Webster’s concern in 1837 should be our concern today. Our principles have been corrupted; integrity is discounted; truth is being perverted. Yet we don’t address those fundamental issues. Instead, we rally to someone who either promises free stuff or who pledges to build a wall.

Webster’s prescription for the ills in our society is a return to Biblical principles and integrity of character. I agree with that prescription. That’s why I will never vote for anyone who lacks the very rudiments of those qualities. That’s why I will not vote for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or Donald Trump.

WebsterNoah Webster was a man of his time, but the ideas he fostered are based on the Book that applies to all men at all times. If you wish to know more about Webster, his views, and his influence during his lifetime, my book, Defining Noah Webster: A Spiritual Biography, is available. You can find it on Amazon right here.

We are faced with virtually no good choice in this coming presidential election, so let’s keep in mind that government is not our savior. There is only one Savior. Our responsibility is to be faithful to Him and maintain our integrity. Stand for righteousness, then stand back and see what God will do.

Doing Away with Childish Thinking

“All politicians are the same.” “We need to fire all of the bums.” “There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the parties.” “We need someone outside of politics to lead us.”

Those are the refrains I’m hearing constantly. They stem from anger and frustration with the current mess. I agree that we currently have a mess. Yet I don’t use those phrases. Why not? I find them to be emotionally driven, intellectually lazy comments.

Christians, in particular, need to forego superficial analyses like those. Do we really believe that every last congressman, senator, and governor is a bum? Should we throw out every person in government simply because we don’t like the overall direction of the country?

If we do, we will lose a lot of principled people as well. We will lose many whose experience with the system can make them effective. Novices may arrive en masse with no idea of how to make things happen. How is that an improvement?

And when we lump everyone together into the stereotype of “the crooked politician,” we are condemning the innocent along with the guilty. Christians are to judge each person on an individual basis, just as God does. The kingdom of heaven consists of individuals who have submitted to the Lordship of Christ.

Are we saying there are no such individuals in our government?

Righteous JudgmentWe are to judge, to be sure. That’s what I’m doing with these comments also. But our judgment is to be an honest one, not merely a flip statement that condemns everyone involved with politics.

Look carefully at the Republican candidates for president. Can you not find even one who has a record of achievement in politics based on principle? If you say you cannot, I would have to respond that you are not taking enough time to investigate the field.

Another problem is that we—and this applies to Christians also—are drawn to celebrity and other outward forms of “strength.” Instead, we should concentrate on personal character in the candidates, not their ability to be bombastic and anti-establishment.

We should examine what they have accomplished, not whether they know how to get attention or use catchy phrases. Neither should we be impressed by anyone who descends into juvenile behavior in response to criticism.

It seems that with every approaching election, I, and others, say that this one could be the most crucial of all. Is that the case for this next round of elections? If so, we need to be sober in our judgments and choose as wisely as possible.

“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child,” notes the apostle Paul. Then he says, “When I became a man, I did away with childish things.”

It’s time to stop acting like petulant children. It’s time to be men and women of principle and sound judgment. Truly, the fate of the nation depends on that. Christians are to be the salt of the earth. When we speak and act like everyone else, we are useless.

Trump & the Loss of the Conservative Mind

I’ve witnessed a myriad of political delusions in my lifetime: the Kennedy administration as Camelot; the Great Society; Jimmy Carter as the outsider who will redeem us from Vietnam and Watergate; high approval ratings for Bill Clinton despite all the scandals and gross immorality; the belief that Barack Obama is a great healer, uniter, and messiah. All of these, though, were delusions in the general public primarily.

What I’m seeing now—and finding it difficult to swallow—is the delusion on the conservative side of politics when it comes to Donald Trump. Normally clear-eyed commentators are throwing away all their practiced discernment in a foolish rush either to support Trump for the Republican nomination or at least to defend what he says and ignore his history.

It’s truly dismaying to hear Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Ann Coulter—just to name a few—rally to Trump’s side. Websites that I have relied upon for unfiltered information about the culture and politics are doing the same.

Is this the equivalent on the Right of the mania for Obama on the Left in 2008?

Donald Trump, in my view, is not presidential material. First, his character precludes giving him the respect that is due any president. His massive ego, far more evident than in any other candidate (with the possible exception of Hillary Clinton), should, in itself, be a disqualifier.

Losers

Those who have spent so much time criticizing the moral character of the Clintons and Obama are now trumpeting Trump? How sad.

Then there’s his suspicious “conversion” to conservative beliefs, all, it seems, within the past few weeks as he decided to jump into the field as a Republican candidate. Has the collective memory of the conservative movement self-destructed?

My Record

For Trump, I get the feeling that winning the presidency is just another in a long line of trade deals.

Acquisitions

Consider this post a plea for conservatives to regain their political acumen based on true limited government philosophy and Biblical principles of character. Return from the wilderness, please, and reestablish your reputations as trusted sources for sound reasoning.

The Trump Factor

Donald TrumpYes, I must write about Donald Trump. He’s become such a controversial figure that I have no choice. One wing of Republicans seem to view him as the straight-talking savior they’ve been waiting for, while a broad swath of Republicans deem him the out-of-control candidate that is going to ruin everything. Which group is closer to the truth?

I hoped Trump would not jump into the presidential race. When he took the plunge, I didn’t anticipate he would do so well in the polls. So it’s crucial to know Trump’s character and where he stands on issues, both past and present.

He created a stir with the announcement of his candidacy when he attacked the government’s policies (or lack thereof) on illegal immigration. Most of the country agrees with the anger he expressed over that issue. Critics pointed, though, to his choice of words when speaking of Mexico; they said he was painting a broad brush and stereotyping.

This past weekend, new controversy ensued when, at a forum in Iowa that included most of the Republican candidates, he commented that John McCain was not all that much of a hero for suffering torture during the Vietnam War. He said he preferred people who didn’t get captured, thereby seeming to denigrate not only McCain for having been captured, but all prisoners of war.

Got My Vote

The furor over this has been high-pitched, and may I say, rightly so. One doesn’t have to particularly appreciate McCain’s record as a senator to feel this was a low blow at someone who did suffer significantly during that war. He didn’t choose to be a prisoner of war; he didn’t become one because he was a “loser,” which was the impression Trump gave.

Trump is hitting a nerve with some Republicans who are angry with Obama and fed up with the lackluster performance of a Republican party that controls the Congress and could be setting a stronger agenda. Trump is their outlet.

To jump on the Trump bandwagon is a big blunder for Republicans.

Let’s start with what he really believes. Talk about evolving—he is the champion in that sphere.

His history of political donations leans heavily Democrat, even to the support of Hillary Clinton. He is on record as favoring Obamacare and would like to see America go further and adopt the Canadian universal healthcare system.

On the illegal immigration issue, where he is making a huge splash today, back in 2012, he criticized Romney for being too harsh with his “self-deportation” comments.

He’s always been a supporter of abortion “rights” and is, we are told, “evolving” on the same-sex marriage issue.

The controversy over the McCain comment overshadowed another one he made at that same Iowa forum: he said he had never asked God for forgiveness for anything. According to those who reported on the aftermath of his time on stage there, that was the comment that created the most stir in the audience, as many, for the first time, realized he has no concept of what it means to be a Christian.

When I look at Donald Trump, I see a man who is in love with himself more than anything else. He is self-centered to the max, akin to Barack Obama’s constant usage of the words “I,” “my,” and “me” in all his speeches.

Trump seems to think he deserves to be president because he has made a lot of money (to which he refers constantly) and is super-smart.

For all these reasons, I cannot support the Trump candidacy, and I think Republicans in general, and Christians specifically, who do support him are either ignorant of his true character and beliefs or are letting their anger over what is occurring in our nation influence their vote.

Some seek to portray the Trump candidacy as a split between true conservatives (his supporters) and the Republican wishy-washy establishment that fears he will take away their authority.

Combover

That’s not an accurate assessment. Those who understand Biblical truths and a conservative philosophy of government should be the first to avoid a Trump candidacy.

And all those “establishment” Republicans? They have a point. Trump, when asked directly, refused to rule out a third-party candidacy if he should not win the Republican nomination.

I can say with some assurance that he will not win the Republican nomination. If he then follows through with a third-party candidacy, what will be the result?

Welcome to the Hillary Clinton presidency.

That, by itself, should be enough to shake his supporters out of their dream world. He could be the instrument for ushering in a new nightmare.

It was a strong third-party candidacy—Ross Perot back in 1992—that gave us Bill Clinton. Isn’t it time to learn something from history?

A Question of Character

As a nation, are we so jaded and cynical that one’s personal character doesn’t matter anymore? When someone runs for the highest office in the land, shouldn’t we have greater expectations of that person than, say, someone who picks up our trash weekly?

Might we want to weigh character along with one’s accomplishments? Who am I talking about, you ask?

Accomplishments

Isn’t this the same person who only got her political stripes because she married a man who ended up as president (that’s another whole story and primer on lack of character)? Yet now she is able to snap her fingers and make money in a way few can, all the while hypocritically savaging those who make money the old-fashioned way—by earning it.

Greedy

This is the person who ensures that she doesn’t have to answer too many questions from the press—many of whom don’t want to find the truth anyway—and uses unique means for keeping them at bay:

Trust Me

On those select occasions when she deigns to allow a conversation, she makes sure to find a reporter who is acquiescent in anything she says, one who lets her spin whatever lies she chooses without any follow-up questions. That happened recently with a CNN “interview.” It was a joke.

Less Obvious

There are so many scandals, false stories, and outright lies emanating from this person that one might be excused from wondering how anyone can support her:

People Trust Me

Her behavior has been compared to . . . . well, to this:

Oldest Teenage Girl

Might I suggest a modification to her official campaign logo?

Hilarious

Is the electorate really this foolish? We’ll see.

Lewis: Do We Want Vision or Virtue?

C.S. Lewis 9Is there a moral law to which all men are subjected, or do men create whatever morality exists, according to their own lights? C. S. Lewis says that the second proposition is a disaster. Unfortunately, it’s where we are, to a great extent. In his essay “The Poison of Subjectivism,” Lewis states,

Many a popular “planner” on a democratic platform, many a mild-eyed scientist in a democratic laboratory means, in the last resort, just what the Fascist means. He believes that “good” means whatever men are conditioned to approve. He believes that it is the function of him and his kind to condition men; to create consciences by . . . state education and mass propaganda.

When we do that, here is what happens:

But if there is no Law of Nature, the ethos of any society is the creation of its rulers, educators and conditioners; and every creator stands above and outside his own creation.

In other words, the politicians and educators (may we add the news and entertainment media here?) determine right and wrong for the whole society, apart from God’s right and wrong. They, in essence, set themselves up as gods who are not subject to the laws they impose on others.

Lewis then brings this down to earth and thinks about what this means when we vote in our elections. What do we look for in our candidates?

Unless we return to the crude and nursery-like belief in objective values, we perish. If we do, we may live, and such a return might have one minor advantage. If we believed in the absolute reality of elementary moral platitudes, we should value those who solicit our votes by other standards than have recently been in fashion. While we believe that good is something to be invented, we demand of our rulers such qualities as “vision,” “dynamism,” “creativity,” and the like. If we returned to the objective view we should demand qualities much rarer, and much more beneficial—virtue, knowledge, diligence and skill. “Vision” is for sale, or claims to be for sale, everywhere. But give me a man who will do a day’s work for a day’s pay, who will refuse bribes, who will not make up his facts, and who has learned his job.

Think about it. Aren’t we much more attuned to those who promise “vision” and who come across as “dynamic” than those who simply exhibit personal virtue and have the skills necessary to the task? When we focus on the former, we get the ideologues who lead us astray. When we focus on the latter, we get the kind of people of whom God approves.

My Ideal President

Presidential SealLet’s talk about an ideal world, where we have someone residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. that we can trust. Having the right president is not the solution to our national problems; those problems go much deeper, since they are spiritual in nature. But it can make a difference who the chief executive is.

What am I looking for in this ideal president? I’ve been thinking a lot about this as I’ve surveyed the field of candidates for 2016. Here are the characteristics that I want.

Dedication to Biblical Principles

This is the starting point. Our president should understand that God’s law is the basis for man’s law, and that anything in man’s law that contradicts God’s law is invalid and should be changed. He or she needs to be someone who honors God above everything else, realizing that public opinion is not the final judge of one’s actions.

This president would advocate for the sanctity of life, the Biblical definition of marriage, a limited role for government in our lives, and private property and free enterprise. The rule of law would be this person’s hallmark, overturning the rule of man that has characterized the current administration.

As I said, this is the starting point, but it’s not enough.

Christian Character

I could give a whole laundry list of character traits I would like to see in this president’s life, but I can summarize with these three, which I believe might encompass many others: integrity, courage, and humility.

Integrity means this president would be a person who does what he/she says, and acts with complete honesty, above board and truly transparent. This president must be a person who has the kind of courage that will tackle the knottiest of issues, regardless of the personal cost to one’s popularity, which is fleeting at best anyway.

As an aside, what we have witnessed the past few days in Indiana and Arkansas is lack of courage on the part of the governors in those states. The so-called Religious Freedom Restoration acts eventually signed into law in those states are worse than useless now; they actually may be turned against Christians’ freedom of religion. That kind of spinelessness at the national level would ruin us completely.

The courage I seek in the ideal president would be coupled with a genuine humility. This president needs to acknowledge that he/she is not the “savior” of the nation, but merely a servant who is fulfilling God’s command to do His will. There is no room for arrogance; pride leads to destruction.

Strategic Wisdom

It’s not enough to simply believe in the right things and have the proper character. This president must know how to make things happen to turn the country around. There might be any number of candidates who fit into the first two categories, but who lack the wisdom to carry out the correct policies. How do we get where we need to be? Not everything can be a frontal attack. Politics is a tricky business. This president will have to know how to manage the system for good without compromising principles or personal character.

Excellent Communication Skills

My ideal president will be a great communicator, in the style of Ronald Reagan, who knew how to connect with the people. Unfortunately, Republicans often choose a candidate who is marginal, at best, in being able to help citizens understand the principles that the country needs to be based upon and the policies that flow out of those principles. We need someone who can articulate those principles and policies clearly.

There may be other traits necessary, but if those four exist, I will be ecstatic. I think that kind of candidate can win this next election. Who is that candidate? I’m still evaluating the options before us. I see solid principles in some; I resonate with the character of many; I have opinions about the strategies they have used in the past and about their ability to communicate effectively.

One thing is for sure: the mainstream media will hold Republican candidates to a level of scrutiny that they will not apply to Hillary Clinton.

Media Bar

I’m holding the Republican candidates to a high bar also, but it’s not the same one the media is interested in. Let’s make our decision for the best candidate based on the kinds of traits I’ve listed above. This next presidential election could be the most crucial in our nation’s history.