Florida in the Limelight . . . Again

I didn’t live in Florida in 2000 when the nation was focused on the presidential recount. I was one of many who found it simultaneously concerning and amusing. There was a photoshopped meme at the time that I still use in class.

Along with that one, I share this:

It’s funny, but now that I live in Florida, I would really like to see my state not be the focal point once more when it comes to election miseries. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Of course, not all of Florida can be blamed for this. My county apparently knows how to count votes. Broward County? Well, not so much. And the supervisor there, Brenda Snipes, can credibly be accused of having what one might call a “slight” slant toward Democrat hopefuls.

Oh, I believe in counting every vote—every legitimate vote. I hope I, and countless others, can be excused for wondering how legitimate this current recount really is.

Gov. Rick Scott, seeking to be the next senator, seemed to have a clear victory over incumbent Bill Nelson, but this recount has narrowed his lead from 50,000+ to less than 15,000. For the record, such a drastic change is unprecedented in recount history, leading to a strong charge of some kind of fraud being perpetrated. Knowing what I do about Democrat tactics, please allow me to be one of those who has, shall we say, grave suspicions about the integrity of this recount.

All that is not to say that Democrats haven’t made gains nationally this time around. They now will control the House of Representatives. While not exactly an overall Blue Wave, to say this is negligible is to deny reality.

Are there any other optimistic signs?

What might this portend for 2020?

I’m being facetious, as I think cartoonist Ramirez is also. Yet I do believe that Republicans need to take seriously what this election means. Many suburban voters abandoned the party, allowing the House to fall to Democrats. Races that should have been won going away were extremely close. There is reason to believe a major factor is perception of the man who currently sits atop the Republican establishment.

Monticello & Yorktown: The Tour Continues

Monticello FrontOur tour of historic southeastern Virginia continues. Tuesday was a full day at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home. I’ve been to Monticello numerous times, but every time I learn more. Particularly interesting was the interpreter’s talk about slavery at the plantation. He interspersed the overall picture with vignettes from the lives of various slaves who labored there. There were three levels of slavery at the plantation: farm workers; artisans/craftsmen; house servants. One family—the Hemings—was almost slave royalty, resented by those who didn’t get the same privileges. If the name Hemings sounds familiar, it’s because Jefferson might have been the father of a number of those children via Sally Hemings.

Jefferson was a complex man in some ways, engaged in the world of politics but liking nothing better than to experiment with various plants and garden seeds. He also was fascinated with architecture, and never really completed his vision for what Monticello should be.

Dome Room 2In all my previous trips to the house, I just took the basic tour, but this time we had a more extensive tour that took us into the upper levels, even to the famous dome on the top. It was nice to be part of a smaller group for this special peek into areas where tourists normally don’t go. Yet for all Jefferson’s ingenuity, there is an incompleteness to the house that you can feel. He was never satisfied.

Historians like to talk about how brilliant he was, but he certainly didn’t come to a brilliant conclusion in his religious beliefs. I was able to peruse his version of the gospels at the bookstore, and it was exactly as I have often taught: the supernatural is omitted, and it ends with Jesus being laid in the grave. There is no resurrection account.

Jefferson wanted people to follow the morals of the Bible, but not the One who established those morals from eternity.

Nelson HouseYesterday was Yorktown day, scene of the final major battle of the American Revolution. We didn’t have time to drive around the battlefield itself, although I would like to do so sometime since I’m now more focused on those details than before—I now teach an upper-level course on the era. That will have to wait for another time. One of our stops, though, was the Thomas Nelson house in historic Yorktown. Nelson was governor of Virginia at the time of the Battle of Yorktown in September-October 1781. The town was occupied by the British under Gen. Cornwallis. There’s some evidence that Nelson’s house may have served as the headquarters for the general.

Nelson was at the battle, but outside the town as part of the besieging army. He is said to have told Washington not to spare even his own home if it would mean the surrender of the British troops. I’m not sure that bit of information is adequately documented, but it does apparently showcase Nelson’s attitude and his commitment to the cause.

While we were there, I thought I’d get a good picture of some of my traveling companions in Nelson’s garden. Nothing historic in this photo, but I just thought it was a neat picture:

Nelson Garden

On the edge of the historic district is the monument commemorating the victory.

Yorktown Monument

Although the standard name for this war always has been the American Revolution—and I have to use that name so people will know what I’m talking about—I tell students that a more accurate name would be The American War for Continued Self-government. You see, in this “revolution” the “haves” were the leading figures, not the “have-nots.” They weren’t trying to uproot a system; they hoped to salvage the good in it. They had governed themselves for many decades, and the British government changed the status quo. If you really want to see the revolutionaries of the period, look three thousand miles across the Atlantic. The united colonies, which became the United States, achieved their original aim: self-government was established once again.

Moral Courage . . . and the Lack Thereof

The Senate of the United States is supposed to be one of the most august legislative bodies in the world. This is where political maturity should be exemplified. The Founders envisioned a a select group of men [and now women] who would calmly and rationally make the best decisions for the nation as a whole, and not be swayed by pettiness.

This is the same body that has long since passed the deadline for enacting a budget—getting close to three years now without one.

Yesterday, the Senate added to its shame by tabling an amendment that would have done nothing more than confirm the right to religious liberty that already should be guaranteed by the First Amendment. The amendment to a bill simply said that the HHS mandates the Obama administration is attempting to cram down the throats of religious organizations had to contain a clear exemption for those whose religious beliefs opposed the measure. Only three Democrats found the moral courage to vote in favor of that amendment.

For those in my current state of Florida, be it noted that Sen. Bill Nelson was not one of those who found courage. This November, you have an opportunity to let him know what you think about that.

Of course, this is hardly the first time in American history that the Congress has disgraced itself, but it always hurts to witness a travesty.

Travesty number two: the Republican party in Michigan decided to go against its own rules; instead of splitting the delegates evenly in the recent primary, which should have happened since Romney and Santorum both won the same number of districts, the committee in charge of awarding the delegates moved one delegate from Santorum to Romney, thereby changing the delegate count from 15-15 to 16-14. It was noted by those familiar with the process that the committee had a number of avowed Romney supporters and none for Santorum. This was a political ploy that has been condemned not only by Santorum’s team but by other fair commentators who haven’t necessarily supported Santorum.

Both of these examples showcase the dire need for Christian morality to come to the forefront in our politics. Moral courage seems to be in short supply.