On Rigged Elections

This election is rigged. That’s been Donald Trump’s theme for a couple of weeks. Is that possible? Accusations of a rigged presidential election are rare, but there are a few examples.

john-quincy-adamsIn 1824, John Quincy Adams won the presidency after no one got the majority of the electoral votes and the decision was thrown into the House of Representatives. Henry Clay, Speaker of the House, was later chosen by Adams to be his secretary of state, considered at that time to be the stepping-stone to the presidency. Andrew Jackson, the loser even though he started with a plurality of the electoral tally, charged that it was a corrupt bargain. He lost the election, he said, because it was rigged against him.

What Jackson didn’t allow into his thoughts is that Clay, who undoubtedly used his influence as Speaker to put Adams in the presidency, felt that Jackson was unfit for the office and gave his support to Adams because he believed Adams was the better of the two men. That, of course, never stopped Jackson from thinking he was cheated out of the office and he held bitterness over it for the rest of his life.

rutherford-b-hayes-2The 1876 election was one of the most controversial in American history. Democrat Samuel Tilden won the popular vote but neither he nor Republican Rutherford Hayes had an electoral majority due to claims of voter fraud in some of the Southern states. This was after the Civil War and the rancor of Reconstruction.

A special commission had to be set up to determine the winner. It took until just a few days before the March inauguration to solidify Hayes’s victory. The only way Democrats accepted Hayes as the legitimate president was after he promised to serve only one term and bring Reconstruction policies to an end. Still, some Democrats refused to acknowledge Hayes as the legitimate president.

jfk-nixonThen there was 1960. Everyone knows John F. Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon, right? Well, that’s not necessarily true. Most historians admit that voter fraud was so plentiful in Illinois and Texas that those two states should have gone to Nixon, thereby making him the next president.

Chicago has been a source of voter fraud continually; it’s amazing how many dead people vote there every time. Texas was Lyndon Johnson’s home state, and he made sure there were enough votes counted to gain the victory there, regardless of how many actually voted.

Nixon was aware of the fraud and many in his circle encouraged him to challenge the result. Tempting as that was, Nixon instead chose to step back from any challenge for the good of the nation. He felt it would be damaging to the country, especially at a time of Cold War tension with the Soviet Union, to disrupt the government in that way.

Most people don’t know about Nixon’s selfless decision; all they ever think about is Watergate.

So, yes, voter fraud might take place. In fact, I’m convinced it does on a regular basis. However, here’s the real question: could it be massive enough to make a difference this year, as Trump intimates?

First of all, it would only matter in a very close vote within a state. Consequently, you can dismiss any issue of damage to the Trump campaign in states that are going for Clinton by wide margins. California, New York, and Illinois are lost causes for Trump anyway. Even if we were to wipe out all of Chicago’s graveyard votes, he will still lose Illinois.

The only real possibility of voter fraud affecting this election would have to focus on Texas or Florida, yet both of those states are controlled by a Republican majority who will guarantee that Trump won’t be trumped by Democrat tricks.

Let’s be real. Voter fraud, while always a concern, is not going to be any kind of determining factor this year. The determining factor is Donald Trump, pure and simple. Well, he’s simple, at least.

Donald Trump Addresses GOP Lincoln Day Event In MichiganHave you noticed that every time Trump loses, he has a scapegoat? Recall the Iowa caucuses. Why did he lose there, in his mind? Ted Cruz cheated. “Lyin’ Ted” cost him Iowa. That was his story and he was sticking to it. He pretty much used the same mantra wherever he lost.

Why? Because Trump believes he is a winner. Remember that he told Republicans he was going to win so much that they were going to get tired of winning. If he loses, it can’t be his fault; it has to be some kind of “rigged” election.

Much has been made of Trump’s comment in the last debate that he will wait and see if he will accept the results of this election. Some feel he is destroying the American electoral system by saying that. I don’t go there. I know there can be fraud, and I use 1960 as a prime example.

However, what really bothers me is what it reveals about Trump’s character. His ego is so huge and vast that he cannot even imagine losing due to his own uneven temperament, lack of knowledge of the issues, and moral turpitude.

He’s also preparing the context for his loss. You see, he didn’t really lose; the election was stolen by “Crooked Hillary.” By the way, she is Crooked Hillary, but he’s “Delusional Donald.”

He will never accept the hard truth that he is his own worst enemy. Rumors abound that once he loses, his next venture will be a media network to promote his views (whatever they may be next year).

Lose he will, and probably “bigly.” And it won’t be because of voter fraud. It will be because he is the worst candidate the Republicans have ever chosen as a standard-bearer.

And on the Democrat Side . . .

More attention has been given to the Republican race for the nomination than what’s happening on the Democrat side. Yet I want to give the Democrats their due. If the Republicans can put forward such a woeful frontrunner, why not the Democrats as well? And they have a doozy of a frontrunner with quite a record:

Hillary's Lies

For a while, Bernie Sanders gave Hillary a minor scare, but everyone knew the fix was in regardless. With all the so-called “super-delegates” in her corner, he never had a chance. Not that I want an old socialist to have a chance at the brass ring, but when it comes right down to it, there’s little difference between Sanders and Hillary. She just takes more money from Wall Street (while saying she doesn’t).

It looks now as if Sanders is an also-ran, but there’s a new race Hillary’s in, whether she’s willing to admit it or not:

Left Bernie

Yes, that pesky FBI investigation continues, along with the threat of an indictment. Other political cartoonists have picked up on the same theme as illustrated above:

Frontrunner

Running Mates

Her campaign slogan, “Ready for Hillary,” has a new twist:

Ready for Hillary

One can hope.

Yet, if an indictment is held off long enough, she may have an ace in the hole:

Pardon Myself

I know that the mainstream media likes to promote the idea that Richard Nixon was the epitome of political corruption, while ignoring what other presidents of the Democrat variety have done (anyone remember another Clinton?), but the allegations against Hillary, if proven legally, will dwarf anything Nixon did to protect members of his administration:

Big Shoes

The last thing I want is for both parties to put forth the most corrupt, most immoral candidates possible. I’ll conclude with the same cartoon I used yesterday to explain where I stand:

Wall We'd Pay For

The Hillary Update–If It Makes Any Difference

Islamic terrorism. Donald Trump. Refugees. Immigration. Lost in the headlines is the ongoing Hillary Clinton saga, but I’m here to remind you all about her and her character.

For instance, did you know that more classified e-mails were released lately. You know, the ones she said she never sent from her private e-mail server? Last count? I think it’s about 1,000. But who cares? That’s old news, right?

New E-mail Releases

I seem to remember a president who had to resign from the office for an offense far less serious than this:

Hillary-Nixon

We also now know, from one of those released e-mails, that the military actually was ready to go to the aid of those under siege in Benghazi but never got permission from the Hillary-led State Department. She failed to send help when it could have saved lives.

There are also all those whoppers she has told over time. Here’s a pretty good summary:

Little Phony

Yet, incredibly, there is no real alternative in the Democrat field (not that I’d vote for any of them, given the party’s stance on moral issues). What would it take to get Democrats to reconsider?

Asking Democrats

I believe that’s a pretty accurate assessment of how things stand at the moment. I grieve for our nation.

A Historian’s Perspective on Bad Times in American History

I don’t think there’s really any disagreement about how pessimistic the majority of Americans are about the future. Currently, all the polls reveal that pessimism.  As I survey the scene—the spiritual/moral, political, and cultural aspects [what does that leave?]—I have grave concerns as well. I’d like to offer a historian’s perspective.

Since I teach American history, I have a more in-depth knowledge of what has transpired previously. I can imagine myself transported back into earlier eras and think about how I might have felt about current events at those times. Bad moral climates, disunity, and devastating government policies have cropped up throughout our history.

If my life had spanned the late colonial and revolutionary era, for instance, I would probably have been quite distressed over the state of affairs. The colonies had declared independence, and it was a thrilling prospect, but the progress of the war was anything but thrilling.

George Washington was often near despair over the inability of the Congress to pay his troops or provide for their needs. Thousands deserted during events such as Valley Forge. There was talk of meekly bowing to the British because all hopes for the future now appeared to be delusional. Even after achieving independence, the new states didn’t seem to want to work together; the entire national governmental structure was on the verge of collapse.

If I had experienced the 1790s, I would have been shocked by the vitriol that spewed forth daily in some of the newspapers, particularly those that accused Washington of wanting to set himself up as king. The French Revolution, which took place at that time, was one of the bloodiest episodes in all of history, and many in America were hailing it as a magnificent development. I would begin to question the wisdom of the electorate and wonder if this fledgling country could survive its first decade after the Constitution.

Later, during the War of 1812, our military defenses were so disorganized that the British actually burned Washington, DC, including the president’s house and the Capitol. Their troops were ravaging the countryside, destroying everything in their path without any effective countermeasures. What a low point for a nation.

Then there’s the Civil War and the decade that led to it. Passions were so heated in Congress that representatives started bringing their weapons with them into the House and Senate for protection. Slavery, by this time, had become entrenched. The Founding Fathers had hoped to eliminate it, but now the South was proclaiming it to be a positive good from God.

The nation split; more than 620,000 died in the war that followed, the highest tally for any American war. Bitterness remained for years afterward [you can still see its remnants today].

The Progressive Movement, after the turn of the twentieth century, introduced more government involvement in people’s lives and decided that the Constitution was an outdated document that had to be reinterpreted. Woodrow Wilson, a racist and a eugenicist, took the presidency. The eugenics movement sought to limit who could have children; only the “best” should reproduce. This movement formed the cornerstone of Nazi policies in Germany later.

Wilson moved the country down the path that led to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s—the fulfillment of progressive dreams as the government took charge of getting the nation out of the Great Depression. FDR’s policies were so dismally foolish that the Depression continued until WWII. If I had lived during those decades, I would have mourned the loss of Biblical principles and constitutional limitations. The reigning ideology tossed out the concept of the rule of law. Now, anything could happen.

I did live during the 1960s and 1970s. It was not pleasant. First was LBJ’s Great Society, which could be described as the New Deal on steroids, followed by the rancor of the Vietnam War, then Nixon’s Watergate fiasco, and finally, the debilitated presidencies of Ford and Carter. The economy was in the tank, the worst since the Great Depression. Along the way, we also concluded that innocent children in the womb could be murdered.

I say all of this to make this point: there have always been bad times. Quite often, those who believe in Biblical morality and constitutionalism have come to the edge of despair. Yet we are still here. There is still hope to turn things around. We survived the disunity of the Revolution and the Civil War. We overcame the disgrace of the burning of the nation’s capital. Calvin Coolidge reversed Woodrow Wilson’s policies and Jimmy Carter brought forth Ronald Reagan.

Will the disaster that is the Obama administration become a footnote in our history that will bring forth another resurgence of sanity, or have we turned a corner and lost our way forever? That page in our history has yet to be written. We are the ones who will write it. If we take our responsibility seriously, hope remains.

Yes, Hillary, This Is Serious

It’s as if she doesn’t even realize she is in trouble. I’m talking about Hillary Clinton. She airily dismisses all allegations about her secret e-mail server and confidential communications she conducted in an unsafe manner. She even continues to say there were no confidential communications, although we are now up to more than 300 identified (and I may be behind on the latest calculations).

Now we discover a small company in Colorado, connected to the Clintons, housed that server in a closet in a bathroom. Real secure.

Let’s be clear. No other secretary of state or other high federal official has ever conducted all business on a personal e-mail server. This is the height of foolishness, at the least, but also potentially criminal. This is not going away.

E-mail Scandal

Richard Nixon was driven from office for trying to protect his subordinates from investigation and prosecution, and in doing so, stepped over the line. Yet that was only a political indiscretion during a campaign. Hillary’s indiscretion may have opened up all of her e-mails to Russia and China. That’s far more serious.

Gen. David Petraeus, as CIA chief, was convicted for having confidential materials in his home office and sharing them with one other person. Comparatively, what Hillary has done is worse, especially since she took it upon herself to decide what to turn over to the State Department and then attempted to destroy all the others. If Petraeus had to face the music for his actions, why should she be allowed to dodge the legal system?

Fancy Meeting You

Can you imagine if the candidate who did this happened to be a Republican? Do you honestly think the party would actually put forward that person as its nominee for the presidency? Panic is beginning to bubble to the surface, but it’s not easy for Democrats to know where else to turn:

Recycle Bin

Meanwhile, Hillary will maintain her innocence and try to make jokes about it all. Those jokes keep falling flat, by the way. She is a Clinton, so in her mind she is exempt from consequences. Clintons always get what they want and thumb their noses at what they consider to be petty legalities:

Got Nothing on Me

If, God forbid, she ever attains the highest office in the land, it might be a unique inauguration:

Repeat After Me

Let justice be done.

Reagan’s Presidential Library

I’ve been in California this past week, researching at both the Reagan and Nixon libraries as part of one of the projects I’m working on during my sabbatical. I’ve promised to provide updates along the way for those of you who are interested, so here’s another one.

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The Reagan Library, in particular, is impressive, not only because it’s located on the top of a high hill from where you can see for miles, but also for its beautiful architecture.

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As an academic researcher, I got to see a section of the library that most don’t see. I could go behind this rather imposing door into the “inner sanctum.”

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Of course, it’s not all glamor. I was there to work—hard—so I thought I’d provide evidence of that:

Research Room

I was able to take one entire day to walk through the museum. I took my time, reading everything I could and taking photos of significant items I might be able to use in class. For instance, on display is the handwritten copy of Reagan’s final letter to the American people when he discovered he had Alzheimer’s. It was his last public communication:

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Also poignant, for me at least, was what Margaret Thatcher wrote in the condolence book at Reagan’s funeral. She wrote simply, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” echoing the words of Jesus.

I hadn’t been to the Library since 2003, so the new addition for me was the Air Force One exhibition, complete with the actual plane Reagan used while president.

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This led, of course, to the obligatory photo everyone takes when entering Air Force One:

Air Force One

Not sure my presidential wave passes muster, but it will have to do.

Another highlight of the trip was the opportunity I had to interview the man who served as Reagan’s pastor from 1964 until 1993, Rev. Donn Moomaw. What a wonderful time of fellowship we had, and I came away with some fascinating insights not only into Reagan’s spiritual status but also into the heart and mind of one who took his pastor’s role seriously.

The other significant event of the week was a trip to Reagan’s Ranch, but that will be the subject tomorrow.

The Productive Year Ahead

Colonial Williamsburg--CapitolLater this week, I’ll begin showing students around some of Virginia’s best historic sites. I’ll be staying in Williamsburg, one of my favorite places on the planet. The historic colonial area always attracts me.

We’ll also tour Jamestown’s original site, the re-created Jamestown settlement, Yorktown, Monticello (Jefferson’s home), Mt. Vernon (Washington’s home), and sites in Richmond (Virginia capitol, John Marshall’s house, St. John’s church, where Patrick Henry delivered his “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” oration).

That’s just the beginning of a year of travel for my sabbatical. I’ll be at Wheaton College in August to examine the Billy Graham papers. If I can, I also hope to squeeze in some time to at least begin looking at the papers of C. S. Lewis, also housed at Wheaton. Then I hope my collaborative colleague and I can make a trip to North Carolina in September to interview some of Graham’s family and associates.

October is the target date for the Reagan and Nixon libraries in California. On that trip, I may also have the opportunity to interview Michael Reagan and visit Reagan’s ranch. I’ve been to the Reagan library three times before, but all prior to the erection of the massive building that houses Air Force One, and also before the renovation of the museum. It will be like seeing all things new.

Air Force One

November provides a change of pace, as I’ve been invited to return to Puerto Rico to teach at a Youth with a Mission base. That’s always a highlight for me. Then I’m aiming for a Texas excursion in December. I have three presidential libraries to visit there: both Bushes’ and Lyndon Johnson’s. That will leave the Eisenhower library and any others I might be able to add (if the funding holds out) for 2015. Everywhere I go, I’m hoping to reconnect with friends and former students.

The goal for all these trips is to provide enough research to write a series of books on spiritual advisers to presidents. In addition to that, I’m collaborating with another faculty colleague on a book that showcases prominent individuals who switched from being political liberals to political conservatives.

This will be a full year, and a very productive one. I simply thank the Lord for this great opportunity.