Averting a Nightmare

Tomorrow is D-Day. The decision will be made, after a marathon campaign season. I will be speaking at a local Republican Club on Wednesday evening, giving my analysis of the election results. I hope it will be a joyous analysis.

If you have been watching any of the final campaign events, you should have no trouble spotting the difference between the candidates at this juncture. Obama sounds pugnacious, angry, even a little resentful. He resorted to the word “revenge” when calling upon his followers to vote. Revenge? For what? Romney is not in power. He hasn’t done anything for which one should seek revenge. That comment showcased a petty incumbent who seems offended that anyone would even dare to knock him off his perch.

Romney, on the other hand, has been quite winsome in his speaking, exuding optimism for the future and a quiet confidence that he will be able to get the job done. His crowds, unlike Obama’s, have been huge and enthusiastic. He’s now even foraying into formerly forbidden territory, making stops in Pennsylvania. Polls show he has pulled even in states like Ohio, Michigan, and Iowa. He’s slightly ahead in Wisconsin and making it a tight race in Minnesota, of all places. It may be somewhat clichéd to talk of momentum, but it is clearly visible on the Romney side.

Obama has so much to answer for—from a terrible economy to a government takeover of healthcare that threatens religious liberty, from a futile stimulus that spread its money to his cronies in the unions and green industries to a foreign policy that is unraveling. Libya is not going away, no matter how he tries to ignore it. Even with all the help he’s received from an obedient media, the word is getting out that his sympathies for Muslim extremists led to inadequate security and death. The word is getting out that he failed to protect our diplomats. The mainstream media no longer holds a monopoly on the news:

Charles Woods, the father of Tyrone Woods, one of the slain ex-Navy seals who gave his life to save others, has spoken out frankly about how the president’s inaction is responsible for his son’s death. Does anyone remember when Cindy Sheehan tried to make life miserable for George Bush when her son was killed in action? Recall how she became a media celebrity? Not so Charles Woods.

Evangelicals, despite Romney’s Mormonism, have rallied to his side because of Obama’s war on Biblical morality, from abortion on demand to same-sex marriage to trying to force Christian organizations to violate their deeply held beliefs with an Obamacare mandate. Obama has tried hard to accuse Republicans of a war on women. Nothing could be more hypocritical:

This may be the most important presidential election in American history because we’ve never before had a president so eager to transform America into a socialist utopia. If he succeeds in holding on to his office, the next four years will be nightmarish for those of us who want righteousness to prevail. The nightmare needs to be averted. I believe it can be. I pray it can be.

Clear Distinctions

I’ve been storing cartoons dealing with the upcoming presidential election. I think it’s time to unleash them. Some have done a fine job at showing the clear distinctions between the two candidates. Here are a couple of my favorites:

In his criticisms of Romney, Obama has tried to have it both ways. All that does is undercut his criticisms. Hopefully, hypocrisy won’t play well:

There’s been talk about Romney’s Mormonism. If you have read my ponderings for any length of time, you know I have concerns about that as well. However, we have to consider the alternative:

I agree—no matter how off-base theologically I believe Mormonism to be, there’s nothing worse than worshiping a mere mortal. Certain things have begun to be revealed about this mere mortal, things that should have been vetted in the media four years ago. What’s fascinating is the source of the revelations:

Naturally, the president wants to scrub his record clean with the voters, but he may find that task more daunting than he realizes:

May sanity return this November.

Ponderings on the Values Voters Summit

Each year in D.C., family-friendly organizations sponsor the Values Voters Summit, which ends with a straw poll to determine which candidate comes closest to the traditional Judeo-Christian moral values of the attendees. Two controversies emanated from this year’s summit: the first had to do with Ron Paul emerging as the winner of the poll, despite the fact that other candidates had stronger credentials for pro-life and pro-traditional marriage stances; the second revolved around a comment by a pastor that Mormonism is a cult, and not Christian.

Let’s deal with them in that order.

Paul seems to have a knack at doing well in these types of polls. Every time there’s a TV debate with the candidates, he always seems to come out on top when viewers are asked to phone in their choice for the winner. Yet his numbers are never very high in scientific polls. Why is this? As I’ve noted before, Paul has a loyal following that is deep, but not very wide. They are quite organized, especially in these types of situations. Attendees at the summit question the validity of the final result, where Paul took 37% and runner-up Herman Cain got 23%. I wasn’t there, but those who were noticed something: even though this summit lasted two days, an unusually high number showed up to register on the second day (about 600), listened to Paul speak, then left.

What was going on? There’s good reason to believe these were Paul supporters who showed up just for the purpose of voting for him, and that they had little interest in the overall summit, the purpose of which was to listen to all the candidates, then decide. They, in effect, were not true attendees with the same goals as the others; their goal was different. Critics of the final vote note that without those extra “attendees” on Saturday morning, Cain would have won the poll handily. In other words, it was a skewed result.

Reports are that Cain deeply impressed the real attendees, and that he had them on their feet constantly, generating tremendous enthusiasm. And Cain’s numbers in the scientific polls are far more impressive than Paul’s. One, a CBS poll, has him tied with Romney for the lead; another has him twenty points ahead, although that seems to be more dubious. Overall, though, Cain is making real strides toward the nomination, despite the charge against him that he has no government experience.

Then there’s the Mormonism issue with Romney, who is a member of the Mormon faith. The pastor who introduced Rick Perry labeled him a true Christian, as opposed to Romney, who was part of a cult. That has raised a ruckus, even to the point of calling the pastor a bigot. What to say about this?

First, the pastor is guilty of bad politics. If you are going to point out a departure from the Christian faith, you need to do so in a manner that allows a fuller explanation of your belief. It doesn’t fit in a short intro; all that does is provide ammunition for those who seek to denigrate your viewpoint. He needed a different venue for making the statement.

The substance of his comment, however, was accurate. Mormonism started in the 1820s, the brainchild of Joseph Smith, a man who was very good at coming up with schemes for making money. He said he was visited by angels. One of them told him where to dig to find an ancient book, and he [Smith] was the only one who could interpret what was in the book. Supposedly, the angel said that all the Christian denominations had fallen away from the true faith, and Smith was the only one with the whole truth. The Book of Mormon tells of an ancient civilization in North America descended from the lost tribes of Israel. The only problem is that there is no archeological evidence at all for this claim. Theologically, Mormonism doesn’t have the same view of who Jesus Christ is. He is not the unique, only-begotten Son of God. He’s no different than we are when we take our rightful place as rulers in eternity. There are too many differences with orthodox Christianity to list here. Suffice to say, the pastor was correct when he made the distinction. Mormonism is not a Christian denomination; it is something else entirely. That’s not a bigoted statement; it’s merely an observation based on the evidence.

Meanwhile, Romney, who is supposed to be the frontrunner, did very poorly at the Values Voters Summit, earning a mere 4% of voter preference. The true activists in the Republican party are not satisfied with Romney as the heir apparent:

This race is not over.

The Albatross & the Trump Card

Two businessmen are making noise as presidential contenders: Mitt Romney and Donald Trump. Both have serious flaws. I know my opinion of them will not sit well with everyone, but I always strive to be as open as possible about my views, realizing that I could be wrong, but believing that it is important to air legitimate concerns.

For Mitt Romney, this is a second time around; he fell short in 2008, but now feels the time is right for a comeback. I freely admit that his Mormonism is a stumbling block for me. From my perspective, Mormonism is a cult, and not a variant of the Christian faith. Yes, I know Mormons are moral, and I wish to work with them on policy issues where we have agreement, but it would be troublesome to me to have someone with Mormon theology as the chief executive in the land. Would that be worse than someone whose religion is false in other ways, such as radical liberation theology? Neither is desirable.

But beyond his religious beliefs, I have deep concerns about his policies. Is he really pro-life, or is this late conversion to that stance just a political ploy? That is a real issue, given his past pro-choice position. He also now claims to be opposed to Obamacare, but isn’t that simply a newer version of what he championed in Massachusetts when he was governor? Romney may be trying to run away from his past, but it’s going to weigh him down.

On to Trump, who is a surprise entry into the race. He’s certainly a celebrity, and he’s definitely made a mark in the business world. Anyone who is a billionaire has left his imprint.

But just who is Donald Trump? What does he believe? A few years ago, he was trumpeting [pardon the slight pun] his own plan for universal healthcare that mirrors both Romney’s and Obama’s. Are we to believe he is now totally opposed to what he formerly proposed?

He also recently taped an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network in which he espoused pro-life views that he never held previously, and in which he declared that he is a Christian—which will probably come as a shock to most who know him. Amazing, isn’t it, how born again someone can become when running for president in a party that includes the majority of politically active evangelicals. Please forgive me if I sound less than convinced that his conversion is genuine. Much as I hope it is the real thing, it will take more than one interview during a run for the top spot in the land to thrill my heart.

Political use of religion? Has anyone ever done that before? The better question is—when has this not been done? I worry about his character, and that he may stop at nothing to achieve his goal.

There’s already speculation—fueled by his own comments—that if he fails to win the Republican nomination, he will run as a third-party candidate. Putting his own ego first, he would doom the eventual Republican nominee to defeat by this scheme. He would be the ultimate spoiler, practically ensuring that Obama survives to take the nation down a disastrous path for another four years. Trump’s role would be similar to Perot’s in 1992, which gave us eight years of Bill Clinton.

Yes, he is a “trump card,” and he’s also just a celebrity out for his own advancement. He’s not a serious candidate, and it is astounding that some polls already show him ahead of the Republican pack. That’s not merely astounding—it’s nearly depressing.

If Republicans really want to lose in 2012, they can’t do better than nominating either Romney or Trump. But I’m still counting on the rank and file of the party to show more common sense.

Is This Romney's Time?

In the 1960s, there was a Romney who was a successful businessman, who was a popular governor of Michigan, and who ran for president—unsuccessfully. His name was George. He had a son who also became a successful businessman and governor of a state—Massachusetts—and who ran for president as well—unsuccessfully.

Thus far, Mitt Romney has followed almost precisely in his father’s footsteps. Prior to his political career, he was best known for taking over a scandal-plagued Olympics committee in 1999, and turning it into a world-class Winter Olympics program in 2002. His ability to do that helped ease him into the world of politics.

Using the prestige earned by his Olympics management, he won the Massachusetts governorship in 2002. He declined to run for a second term, setting his sights instead on the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

He attracted a lot of support from conservatives, particularly economic conservatives, not only for his time as president of the Winter Olympics Committee, but also for his background as CEO of a private equity investment firm. In fact, he won the endorsement in the primaries of the conservative magazine National Review, which lauded him on its cover.

As I watched the primaries unfold, I wondered why he was getting so much support from such staunch conservatives. His views on abortion kept changing over time, and he had set up a healthcare plan in Massachusetts that many see as a state version of Obama’s plan. Romney says he opposes Obamacare, and I don’t doubt his sincerity about that, but he has a lot of explaining to do as his Massachusetts plan has followed the same trajectory of increased costs that Obama’s legislation is beginning to manifest. Some people are wondering, “What’s the difference?”

This political cartoon from a few years ago poses the same question with respect to Hillary Clinton’s proposal back in the 1990s:

While it seemed he might have the inside track for the 2008 nomination, he stumbled in almost all the primaries, much to the chagrin of his supporters who felt he was the most qualified of all the candidates. When he pulled out of the race, economic conservatives were crushed. But why they were so crushed is a mystery to me when I consider what he did to healthcare in Massachusetts.

So, on policy issues, let’s just say I’m not convinced he’s all that solid. One of the complaints against him is that he sometimes seems rather opportunistic, willing to change his views to get ahead.

I have to bring up one more point. It’s a sore point, and will undoubtedly open me up to charges of bigotry [the accusation of choice these days]. He is a Mormon, and I hold steadfastly to the belief that Mormonism is not Christian. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not simply another Christian denomination; it is an entity unto itself. And, in my view, it is a rather strange entity in its doctrine. Individual Mormons, it is true, often lead lives of strict morality [which is good for the nation], yet the foundation for what they believe is far afield from the Biblical understanding of the nature of Jesus Christ and how salvation occurs.

Some will say, well, what does that have to do with governing? I would rather not place someone into a high office in the land whose religious beliefs are based on what I perceive to be a great deception. This does not mean I hate Mormons. On political matters, they are usually quite conservative, and we can agree on what needs to be done with respect to government. Yet, on spiritual matters, I have to disagree, and religious beliefs do form the foundation for everything else we believe as individuals and as a nation. Personally, I would want to limit Mormon influence in our society.

As I said, I realize this opens me to charges of intolerance, but I submit that is not the case, at least in the manner most would think. I do not think God wants us to tolerate error, yet He always wants us to reach out to those who are in error and be willing to share His truth. We are to love, not disdain or reject, those who have followed a wrong spiritual path.

If it came down to a stark choice—Romney or Obama—there would be no hesitation on my part. Obama’s worldview is so blatantly anti-Christian, and the policies he promotes are so unbiblical, that I could never wish another four years of his administration upon us. In such a circumstance, Romney would have my vote. I just hope I won’t be reduced to those options.

There is no question Romney is running again; his team is already together and moving ahead. In that respect, he is ahead of nearly every other potential candidate. Will he have what it takes to win this time? Personally, I am more comfortable with either Sarah Palin, the subject of yesterday’s post, or Mike Huckabee, the subject of tomorrow’s.

The Restoring Honor Rally: A Reflection

I wasn’t able to attend the Restoring Honor Rally in D.C. last Saturday, but I know a couple of people who did. They were deeply impressed by what they experienced. The crowd easily exceeded expectations, with estimates running as low as 300,000 [how’s that for a “low”?] up to more than 500,000. The central stage was the Lincoln Memorial.

In this picture, you get only some idea of the size of the crowd. A bird’s-eye view provides a better perspective:

That’s the Lincoln Memorial in the distance. Up close is the WWII Memorial. The crowd filled the entire space between the two, and even went further back than this picture shows, all the way to the Washington Monument.

Impressive, to say the least.

What inspired people to make this journey? Well, there certainly were some attractions. For one, Sarah Palin was a key speaker, and undoubtedly a drawing card for many. She, and all the other speakers, set aside partisan politics for the day and spoke instead about honoring those who have served in the military, remembering another speech at this spot in 1963—“I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King—and calling for a return to faith in God.

Of course, the main organizer for this rally, Glenn Beck, was on hand as well. His stated goal was to bring together people of all faiths for a common purpose, what he and others termed a spiritual revival.

This is where it gets controversial. Before going any further, let me say that I am in complete agreement that a spiritual revival is essential to bring this country back from the brink of an untold disaster. I understand Beck’s desire and support him in that quest. The real question is whether there can be a genuine spiritual renewal if Jesus Christ is not central to it.

I have watched Beck’s television program on a consistent basis. I applaud most of what I see. He has provided a valuable service in exposing the roots of progressivism, in upholding the authority of the Constitution and the rule of law, and in telling people that faith in God is the most significant factor for any restoration of the Founding principles. Building a coalition of groups who have that same vision is a good thing. Therefore, I do support the intent of the rally and I know that it was a force for good in the country.

The key, though, is whether this movement, as it goes forward, is going to be a Christian-based endeavor. Beck is a Mormon. I have some knowledge of Mormon theology, and it is decidedly not Christian. I know it is politically incorrect to say such a thing. I can never now run for office. That’s okay—I never planned to do so. The Mormon concept of the nature of God and Jesus is not compatible with orthodox Christianity. The theology of salvation for Mormons is not the same as the Christian explanation.

Now, as I’ve listened to Beck, I’ve wondered just how much he really understands Mormonism because his words, at least as he explains his view of salvation, sound as orthodox as any Christian’s. I can safely let God be the judge of his heart. However, a clear line does need to be drawn between what is definitively, uniquely Christian and that which is not.

In the political world, as I’ve noted, coalitions need to be formed. I can unite with Mormons, Jews, and anyone else who wants to see the same political result as I do. But a government is not the church. Salvation will never emanate from any government. The message of individual salvation remains in the Christian faith, which proclaims that Jesus is the only way, truth, and life.

I’ve read some critiques of the rally that have been rather censorious of it due to its mixed leadership—the attempt to meld all religious beliefs into one. I understand that. However, we should keep in mind that the movement, such as it is, does promote basic Biblical attitudes and principles, even if some in the movement are not personally Christian. Anything that nudges us closer to the truth is welcome.

When I teach about the American Founding, I make it clear that not everyone was a Christian at that time, yet nearly everyone operated on a consensus that was formed from the Biblical worldview. We could be seeing that same development today.

I think it is highly likely that the majority of those who attended the Restoring Honor Rally did so as proponents of the Biblical worldview. If the rank and file is made up of that type, there is hope for our future. We certainly could do worse than return to the status of the Founding, where even those who were not Christians still understood the world through the Christian prism.

Therefore, I urge my Christian brethren not to be too critical at this point. Let’s see where this leads. God works through His people, but He also works through those who don’t always realize He is doing so.