March 30, 2017

November 7, 2012

The Path We’re Made to Travel

Props to doomsayers Sarah and David for correctly calling this election (and to Matt for phoning it in). I wanted to put some thoughts down as soon as Ohio was called for Obama, partly because I think they’re worth pondering, and partly because I hope to take a long, long vacation from politics beginning Wednesday the 7th.

A Taste for Depravity

For many years I made my living in film, video and other media production. As my studies progressed in college, I found myself more and more dreading the tasks of actually setting up cameras and lights, running power, wrangling a crew, threading a camera, and shooting take after take. Instead, I found myself looking forward to sitting down in the editing suite, stacks of logged footage beside me, and putting it all together with music, graphics, and narration to tell a story. I didn’t stop to think why that was, but by the time I had graduated and was making a living in the industry, I was focused almost entirely on this phase, called “post-production.”

A few years after graduation, with some time and perspective to think about it all, it became clear. My non-production studies in college had centered around film theory, and I had taken an especially keen interest in the early Russian pioneers Sergei Eisenstein, Vsevelod Pudovkin, and a more obscure one named Lev Kuleshev. At the time, I didn’t know why; this was the last area of film I would have predicted I would take an interest in.

Later, it became crystal clear why I had gravitated toward this obscure corner of film theory, and toward the editing phase of production: I was fascinated by the power of montage, and especially juxtaposition. They were the raw elements I preferred to work with, and with which I was most effective - the finished images on film, not what I saw as the monotonous drudgery of production.

So as I’ve watched the American political landscape change over my adult life, I’ve often thrown my hands in the air at what I’ve seen as lost opportunities by Republicans to use visual media - everything from print to commercial television to the web and social media - to emphasize the failings of liberal politicians and their policies.

Never has this frustration been more intense than the past few weeks, in particular the horrific failing of the Obama administration in the Benghazi consulate attack. I thought that a particularly effective TV ad or Facebook image would be a juxtaposition of our dead ambassador and Navy SEALS, beside Barack Obama partying the following night in Las Vegas with Beyonce and Jay-Z and their tower of champagne bottles.

How, I thought, could any reasonable person, with any moral grounding, look at that image and consider that situation for over two seconds without being repulsed? How could anyone who had drunk in even a sip of the disgusting actions of our president even entertain the notion of re-electing him?

My answer didn’t come immediately, but it came soon enough. The answer is this:

- There are millions of voters who can’t tell you that Benghazi is in Libya, can’t tell you that our ambassador was murdered there, can’t even point to Libya on a map.

- There are millions of voters who, while perhaps being able to tell you that our ambassador was killed in some sort of attack, are wholly ignorant of the administration’s fecklessness and perhaps traitorous culpability in all of it.

- But the most important answer is this: There are millions of voters who can be sat down, and have it explained to them exactly what happened, and fully comprehend the disgusting failures of leadership and morality of the Obama administration… they can look at the photos of the men who died fighting in Benghazi and have at least some understanding of their honor and courage and sacrifice, and look at the photos of Barack Obama partying with Beyonce and Jay-Z beside a champagne tower… and they prefer the champagne tower. They prefer the depravity of Barack and Beyonce and Jay-Z to the honor and courage and sacrifice of the men who died in Benghazi.

And combined, those millions of voters outnumber the ones who cannot conceive of preferring depravity over honor.

We could run the same exercise using other questions of morality - photos of partial-birth abortions, for example, or the indignity of the poverty and insecurity that results from socialism - and we would get the same results.

The sad fact is that there now appear to be more voters in America who prefer the soullessness of socialism to the ethic of self-sufficiency, and the depravity of celebrity to the example of honor.

In other words, we are no longer a nation of people united by their common sense of right and wrong, of why government exists and what it is for, yet bickering over the minutiae of how to implement it all. We are in fact a nation of people divided by our wildly different senses of what is moral, and what it means to be an American.

So show them all the ugly pictures you like. They don’t care. They’re not repulsed, because they don’t share our values, our morals, our ethics, or our appreciation of this country.

The Sure Things, RIP

I fell prey to one of the oldest traps in politics - banking on an outcome predicated on the fact that it had never happened before.

Because no president had ever won re-election without increasing the number of states he won the first time, there was no way Barack Obama could win.

Because no president had ever been re-elected with less than 50% approval, there was no way Barack Obama could win.

Because no president had ever been re-elected after trailing so late in the campaign, there was no way Barack Obama could win.

And on and on it went. But Barack Obama won anyway.

It’s not that the sure things aren’t sure anymore. It’s that there’s just no such thing as a sure thing, and we’re foolish to tell ourselves there is.

This goes for the inevitable analysis on strategy we can expect in the coming weeks, the main ones being:

Was Mitt Romney too “moderate” - meaning too much of a flip-flopper, trying to have his cake and eat it too on issues such as abortion and government health care?

Does that mean we could have won with a more conservative candidate?

Or Was Mitt Romney in fact too “conservative” - on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, and on fiscal issues like taxes and government spending?

Does that mean we could have won with a more liberal candidate?

I’m brought around again to the question of just what the majority of the American electorate is made up of: If they are what I think they are, then no candidate to the right of Romney could have won.

But just how much more liberal could Romney have been, without being indistinguishable from Barack Obama?

Nice Guys Finish Last, and Decent Guys Don’t Do Much Better

One of the main themes that emerged during Romney’s campaign was that, in stark contrast to John McCain, Republicans grew to like Romney the more they got to know him. The precise opposite was true of McCain.

What we all agreed on was that Romney is a “decent guy.” We may not agree with all of his positions - we may even make a good case that taken as a whole, his positions aren’t terribly conservative - but we all agree that he is a decent guy, and nothing about his loss in this election will change that.

One problem with that is we talked ourselves into believing that voters teetering between Obama and Romney would be swayed by this, when in fact all we were doing was swaying ourselves into believing that far from casting a vote against Barack Obama, as we did in 2008 with McCain, we would actually be casting a vote for Mitt Romney, and that that change was a significant one.

The other problem is that decent guys have a lousy record at winning the presidency, and an equal lousy record when they do.

John McCain was a genuine war hero, for crying out loud. He spent years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, refusing to go home before his turn, even though he knew he would be tortured for it. True, he has a reputation as a hothead, and he’s certainly not what I or most other conservatives would call a conservative, but there’s never been any question about his fundamental decency.

And yet, he lost to Barack Obama.

Gerald Ford was an obviously decent man, and before he descended into terrorist-coddling senility, so was Jimmy Carter. But they were both failures at being president.

George H. W. Bush was another decorated war hero, with a decades-long faithful marriage and an honorable career as a public servant. A thoroughly decent man… and a one-term president.

His son was also a very decent man, conquering alcoholism and rising to the challenge of the September 11th attacks. But in the end, he approved an odious new prescription drug entitlement, approved the equally odious TARP plan, and left many conservatives feeling - rightly - betrayed.

We’re left with Ronald Reagan as the only man we can describe as both decent and successful, and even then we have to put an asterisk beside a couple of years of his second term. I suppose if you squint you could call Eisenhower “successful” - although “not a failure” is probably more apt.

Other than that, who are we left with in the modern era? If FDR was decent, he also presided over a fundamental and, frankly, cancerous transformation of the United States into a welfare nation. Johnson was decidedly not a decent man, and was a raging failure as a president as well. Nixon had some early successes but was also not close to what we would like our “decent” presidents to be. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are two of the most execrable humans ever to occupy the office; nothing more need be said about that.

So this is the sad reality: We don’t do ourselves any favors by convincing ourselves that decency will translate into votes, or that it’s any reassurance that our guy will do a good job.

Furthermore, we have to find a way to deal with the reality that a conservative must be a “decent” guy in order to withstand the savaging of his character by liberals during the campaign, but that the liberal candidate will not be held to the same standards. So Bill Clinton can be proven to be an adulterer who lies to the American people about it, and get a free pass while Bob Dole, another thoroughly decent fellow, gets savaged in the press; Barack Obama can support partial-birth abortion and even infanticide and get a free pass, while Mitt Romney, a faithful husband who doesn’t even smoke or drink, gets painted as some evil cross between Snidely Whiplash and Thurston Howell, III.

But the bottom line is that nice guys rarely win, and even when they do, it’s a crapshoot as to whether they’ll even be competent at the job.

GOP: Change or Die?

I was listening to Laura Ingraham several weeks ago when she went down a laundry list of Barack Obama’s failures and the many dire indicators of the nation’s security and economy. At the end, she said - I’m paraphrasing - if the GOP can’t win against this disaster of a president, then they need to shut it down, clean house, and start from scratch.

I’ve never been a fan of third parties, for several reasons, among them:

- They never win. See John Anderson in 1980, Ross Perot in 1992, etc.

- They siphon votes in lopsided proportions from the two parties, often dooming the party they’d support if they had to make a choice. Again, see Ross Perot in 1992.

- Non-parliamentary governments such as the United States’ do not serve more than two parties well at all, given everything from its winner-take-all electoral systems down to the way legislative committees are constituted.

In the case of the Libertarian Party in particular, I have always thought of libertarianism as something the GOP would do well to graft onto its stock, but something that comes up well short of being sufficient to build an entire party around. (I also characterize libertarianism as being little more than conservatism divorced of traditional morality, which I believe is accurate but outside the scope of this piece).

But the GOP’s experience with third parties, and the chord the notion strikes every four years with what seems like a growing percentage of its base, force the question: Is the GOP forever doomed to defeat in presidential elections unless it changes - radically - the kinds of candidates it nominates, and thus, presumably, the methods by which it vets and nominates them?

There is the perennial debate within conservatism on social issues - dominated by abortion, but including other issues such as gay marriage, drug policy, euthanasia, etc. - that amounts to: Are we driving off more voters with our positions on these issues than we’re attracting with our far more unified positions on fiscal issues?

In other words - should we stop taking positions on abortion, gay marriage, drug legalization, assisted suicide… letting those issues play out in the states; and focus on presenting a more attractive product to voters that appeals to something they all want, which is more money in their pockets at the end of every month, and a more reassuring economic future for their children?

This is a suggestion that gets a lot of traction in wonky conservative ranks, but I think the answer is maddeningly complex.

The first issue is that the opposition takes what are usually unequivocal and very “loud” positions on all of these issues. They are doctrines of the liberal faith. One can barely be considered by Democrat voters for dog catcher if one doesn’t support abortion, gay marriage, assisted suicide, and legalizing at least marijuana. So why should we drop our positions on them?

Conservatives who advocate this approach like to point out that that’s not the stuff of politics - that the GOP is larding up with boutique social issues what should be a lean, mean platform concerned mainly with economics and to a lesser extent foreign policy, and that’s it. Their message is: Present a concise, well-articulated plan to keep the trains running, and leave the dramatic social issues to ensnare and confound the opposition.

What I point out to them is that keeping the roads paved and making the trains run on time is bureaucracy - mere administration.

Politics is the means by which we attempt to codify our values.

Politics is how we translate into law our opinions on right and wrong: Whether it’s right to kill unborn children, whether it’s right that two men be able to marry, whether it’s right to assist in someone’s suicide.

What do we say about ourselves - and what kind of product do we offer the voting market - if we decline to take positions on these issues?

At a national level this may in fact be workable, as so many of these issues - drug legalization, assisted suicide, for example - could likely be left to the states with minimal complications. But abortion cuts directly to the heart of how we define a human being; gay marriage cuts directly to the heart of how we define the most important social institution in human history. While we might be able to delegate these decisions to the states, the constitutional nature of the questions and the structure of our government ensures that they will sooner or later be brought before the Supreme Court, at which point they will become the law for all the states.

And even if we could delegate these decisions to the states such they were kept out of the Supreme Court, aren’t we then engineering a patchwork of legislation which is not only unworkable in a practical sense, but an incoherent expression of our national character? In other words, even if we could do this, would we really want to?

Which brings me back to the question of whether the GOP must “change or die.” There can be no doubt that America is facing an existential threat exceeded only by the Civil War, the Great Depression, and World War II. There can also be no doubt that Barack Obama has been a horrible failure at the job of setting this right.

Yet neither can there be any doubt that, given the chance to elect a decent man with a proven track record as an executive, America rejected him, and administered a similar defeat to several key down-ticket offices as well.

It’s obvious a majority of the American public doesn’t want what the GOP is selling. The question is: Does a majority want anything to the right of it? If the answer is to “scratch it and start over,” what does that party look like, and what chances does it have of doing any better than the current one?

Do we really believe that there are enough voters left who recognize the severity of the situation, and are both informed enough and disciplined enough to vote for people who will make us face tough choices?

The Self-Deluded Voter

Conservatives have to face a very uncomfortable fact: By and large, the polls were right. Many of us - myself included - comforted ourselves by “un-skewing” the polls. We took the “toplines” - the percentages of voters who said they were voting for Romney or Obama - and shifted them according to things like party affiliation and projected turnout models.

We kept seeing polls with Romney running a point or two ahead, or a point or two behind, and we kept seeing absurd turnout models: D+9… D+11. We took the difference between the poll’s turnout model and what we expected the actual turnout to be - D+4, even R+1 - did some simple math, and told ourselves that Romney would win by 5, or 6, or 7. “Landslide” got thrown around by some big names in the polling business - the excitable Dick Morris, of course, but also by men of much more sober and exacting standards: George Will, Karl Rove, Michael Barone. They were off by dozens of electoral votes. Even Brit Hume, who predicted an Obama victory, said about the polls, “Something is very, very wrong.”

So at least at this early stage of the post-mortem, it’s not the pollsters who have a lot to answer for - it’s most of the analysts we’ve long looked to as the best in the business, conservative or liberal.

This brings up another fact we’ve got to face, one that I didn’t see mentioned very much over this long and exhausting campaign, and it should have been obvious to us. I only started piecing it together in the past week, as I tried to make sense of the huge discrepancy between the toplines and the internals, but it’s this: People tend to describe themselves as being significantly more conservative than they actually are.

I illustrated this to a friend of mine who was describing a friend of his to me. “He went to [politically-middle-of-the-road-college], and I’ve known him for twenty-five years… he’ll probably vote for Obama, but overall, he’s an old-school, sort-of-conservative Democrat.”

I knew exactly what he meant by all those seemingly contradictory descriptions, and I suspect you do too. You’ve probably described at least one of your friends over the years that way.

The problem is that this fellow, if asked “Do you consider yourself liberal, or conservative?” would almost certainly answer “Oh! Conservative, definitely!”

When… in fact, he’s not remotely conservative.

If, instead, you asked him, “Do you support expanding government-backed medical financial aid for the poor and the elderly?” he would answer “Of course I do!”

If you asked him, “Do you support a woman’s right to choose whether and when to terminate a pregnancy, even if it doesn’t present a threat to her life?” he would answer “Of course I do!”

If you asked him, “Do you support the right of homosexual couples to marry?” he would answer “Of course I do!”

If you asked him “Do you support a reduction in military spending, with the savings applied to investments in green energy initiatives?” he would answer “Of course I do!”

In other words: He is not a conservative by any stretch of the imagination. But most pollsters don’t go to the trouble to tease out all of his positions on these and other issues - they simply ask him how he would describe himself, liberal or conservative. And he will, without a trace of irony or twinge of deceit, answer with “Conservative.”

Longtime readers of this site will recognize this pattern from the countless skirmishes that have led to the situation we now have in the Episcopal as well as Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Methodist churches: It is not nearly so common that a priest or a bishop will knowingly lie to you and say he is a conservative when he is not; it’s that he honestly believes he’s a conservative even while embracing positions far left of center.

For whatever reason, people’s default description of themselves is conservative, and they have difficulty processing the notion that they may be wild-eyed liberals. It’s an example of the idea that “fish don’t feel water,” or yet another iteration of the famous story of New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael in which she expressed astonishment that Richard Nixon could ever be elected president: “I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon.”

Many Episcopalians grappling with the leftward lurch of their church continue to struggle with this: Even now, far too many of them don’t evaluate a priest’s or bishop’s actual position on the conservative/liberal spectrum based on the stance they take on specific issues. Instead, they ask vague and easily-answered questions which amount to little more than, “How do you see yourself - liberal, or conservative?”

All of us who have fought the church battle - no matter what denomination, and increasingly, no matter what the flash point that triggered the crisis - have experienced that unsettling feeling when we realize that the person, or the couple, or the entire group we’ve sat next to in the pews, organized cookouts and camping trips with, and taken communion with all these years, are not who we thought they were.

This is the same feeling we now have in the aftermath of this election, when we realize that so many of our fellow citizens have a radically and fundamentally different worldview than our own. It is every bit as unsettling, and we have allowed ourselves to be jarred this way for the same reasons: We too easily assume that the person who looks like us, or drives the same kind of car, or goes to the same church, or likes the same TV shows, or went to the same college, shares all - or at least the most important - of our core values, when in fact many surprises almost certainly await us in coming months and years as it becomes more important to us to determine exactly who believes what.

The Laws, and Unintended Consequences

Finally, we need to face squarely the reality of what may happen to this country if the left’s socialist agenda continues to encroach into our lives and our businesses.

Yes, socialism fails because, as we like to chuckle, “sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.” But it also fails because it runs counter to human nature. It is not natural to feel motivated to work hard when you know you’ll keep fewer of the fruits of your labors, and especially when they will be redistributed to many who simply choose not to work as hard as you do.

I, for one, don’t plan to participate in the forced redistribution of my earnings any more than I can possibly manage to, and I have no reason to doubt that I’m any different from anyone else who works hard for a living.

This won’t be a terrible blow to the left’s redistributionist goals, because I’m not a wealthy man. But there are millions of people just like me who will do the same thing. What’s more, there are plenty of truly wealthy people who have the means I do not to shield an even larger portion of their gains from confiscation by the government.

And they - we - will all do this, with a vengeance. And the combined effect, when you motivate smart, talented, successful people to make sure they and their families are provided for, is to create an even larger gap between rich and poor than we have now. It is impossible to tax the successful in a way that pulls all the poor out of poverty, and besides, if your definition of “poor” is always a line that divides the bottom X-percent of earners from the top Y-percent earners, then you will always have “the poor.” And as long as you always have “the poor,” you will always have calls for more and more taxation and redistribution.

It is an unsustainable model, as we have seen time and time again, from the behemoths of the former Soviet Union to pipsqueak backwaters like Cuba and Cambodia. There is a conceit among the left that “socialism works” because tiny, all-white, boutique western European countries like Sweden and Finland are able to make a go of it; but it’s nothing more than a conceit, as the success of socialism when attempted in geographically large, demographically diverse countries of hundreds of millions of people can be characterized within a range from “economically miserable” to “genocidal.”

Obviously it’s uncertain how all of the assorted leftist miseries this administration would like to impose on us - and it’s probably more fair to say “how all of the assorted leftist miseries a slim majority of this nation has chosen for us” - will play out, but one thing is certain: No country can run trillion-dollar deficits forever. Sooner or later, China will stop lending us money. Sooner or later, the world will decide it no longer has a need for the dollar as a reserve currency, and it will all come crashing down.

I would like to think that the American people have the insight as well as the foresight to understand this, and can correct their course before this happens, but I’m continually reminded of Alexander Tyler’s observation that a democracy “can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the Public Treasury.” I fear that we have reached the point of no return in this regard, and frankly I fear for the future of this country and everyone around the world who depends on us for their livelihoods and security.

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Thanks for this. Can’t sleep but know God’s in charge and that Calvin was an optimist. I was on email lists for at least three groups of religious/evangelical/Roman Catholic/value voters and from the energy and commitment shown me and from the noticeable enthusiasm of Republicans I thought that would carry the day. But the electorate has changed. More minorities, more secularists, more looking for government help, more poorly educated and/or informed. But it is what it is. A moral revival is more needed than a political revival. We need worship the God of creation and not creation, the God of power, and not power. Until people can see God as easily as they can see creation and power, then the challenge remains. I suspect this nation is doomed, which, if one considers it from God’s perspective, is only fair and just. Consider the wasted (?) eloquence of OT prophets of doom that were not well received.

[1] Posted by Don+ on 11-7-2012 at 04:14 AM · [top]


[2] Posted by paradoxymoron on 11-7-2012 at 05:18 AM · [top]

Great observation, Don+

I don’t know much about USA, but from Greg’s description. you have the same need as every other westernised country - true religion, and plenty of it.

Why have things got to a low moral ebb?  Because the mainline churches abandoned their true vision many years ago, and the results are still filtering through. 

That means that each of you who are fighting the battle to reform those mainline churches are doing work of INCALCULABLE VALUE

[3] Posted by MichaelA on 11-7-2012 at 05:28 AM · [top]

oops, hit send too soon! Message continues:

... not just for your church, but for your very country.  Be encouraged, and return anew to the fight.

[4] Posted by MichaelA on 11-7-2012 at 05:30 AM · [top]

I admit that I am in shock at the result but, then, I considered the USA was only a little way behind the UK. Now you have caught up.

Economically it is going to be devestation.  Indonesia is in boom time in large part just because Western investors are bailing out tot he East and SE Asia’s largest (though very undeveloped) economy as fast as it can.  They are giving up on the West.  ASEAn is now planning for a future in which Europe is no longer a player.  Soon it will be the US as well.  SE Asia is starting to see the West as a socialist wasout and working to to ignore it.

But the issue you now face - God go with you - is persecution.

Now Obama has a second term do you think he will allow the Churches to stand in the way of the imposition of his Atheistic utopia?  Do you think this narcissist for one minute is NOT going to take this as a mandate for atheism from the people (which I contend it probably is.  I think the US has hit the point of religious by name only) to sweep religion away?

The constitution is toast.  A second term guarantees Obama imposes Soviet style rule.  He WILL take this as a mandate and I think the ;checks and balances’ have been sufficiently weakened to allow for this.  Hey, the UK has gone that way already.  You are just catching up.

So you are facing - as has already begun in the UK but will accelerate - a process of genuine, Soviet style persecution.  Websites like this will not be allowed much longer.  Church going will become a monitored activity and, as the economy collapses it will be the “Right wing, religious bigots who got us into this mess.”  They will be the scapegoats.  You will not be allowed to work, have your children go to University but they will be taken for training camps.

I thought you had four more years of grace.  You don’t.  Now ALL of the west is going to charge ahead with full blown Christian persecution of Soviet style and this time with technology.

I have always said that TEc is the forecaster of the West entire future.  See what happened when the leaders felt invincible.

God go with you. Now is the time of martyrs.  How glad I am to have leapt before this and have a chance of a real career passing on Christian values, and how sad at heart I am not to join those destined for glory.  Keep the faith.  They plan to tear it from you.  Hang on for glory!

[5] Posted by jedinovice on 11-7-2012 at 07:04 AM · [top]

The final scene of “Planet of The Apes” (1968) comes to mind this morning.

[6] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 11-7-2012 at 07:17 AM · [top]

A couple thoughts coming out of the depths on the morning after…

First, conservative pundits expressed consternation at how a “center right” people could elect for the second time a liberal president openly campaigning on a left-wing agenda. I’d propose this: the American citizenry is still, on the whole, center-right on economic matters – at least compared to Europe – but it has become center-left on cultural matters. Charles Murray in Coming Apart has shown how the secular cultural values of the liberal elite have seeped down to the white working-class, with destructive effects on marriage and family and economic self-sufficiency.

We have witnessed in electoral terms the fruit of the culture wars and the emergence of a new dominant national character. We conservatives are loath to admit that “the American people” can change its character any more than the Romans wanted to admit that the Republic and republican virtue was a thing of the past. But it can happen, as in the change in British character from the “stiff upper lip” (Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth) to the quivering upper lip” (Princess Diana and Sir Elton John).

Secondly, the most striking and horrifying thing about the election was that the “Julia” cartoon and the Lena Dunham “Your first time” video seem actually to have had an impact on the electoral map. I was reading an article yesterday saying that 65-75% of college students participate in the “hook-up” culture. Part of me wants to think this statistic an exaggeration, but maybe it’s true. In any case, it is no big step to move out of the frat-house bedroom to vote for some guy on the basis of “your first time.”

Which leads me to this concrete agenda for conservatives if we are to start building from the rubble: repeal the Nineteenth Amendment on women’s suffrage! OK, it’s just a thought experiment, but I do suspect the founding fathers did not see an intractable problem in limiting the franchise to men only because they saw husband and wife as part of a societal unit whose interest was expressed by one vote. This was the family described by de Tocqueville with strong, dynamic women working alongside their husbands and children.

What we saw yesterday was the defeat of the married woman by the single woman, the fruit of cultural-left individualism over center-right traditionalism. The difficulty of restoring a tradition, once lost, is daunting indeed, and I’m not sure it will be possible until the current culture reduces itself to rubble.

[7] Posted by Stephen Noll on 11-7-2012 at 07:25 AM · [top]

Two words: Voter fraud.
I saw it in the last presidential election and again in this one. It is time to make our election process secure.

This time, I was accused of voter fraud by having voted earlier in the day. Nope. I did NOT. It just happens that my husband had voted earlier than I did as he voted before work.  I voted later in the morning when the lines were shorter.

When I came up to vote and handed over my voter registration and photo ID (driver’s license- required by the state of SC), I noticed the two women who were checking IDs,etc were talking. First off, they had a hard time spelling my last name. Not uncommon occurrence. (They should be glad I am married as they would have had a worse time with my maiden name) so they had to look for awhile before they found my name in the list. I said “Is there a problem?”. They replied that they had me listed as having voter earlier. I told them I had not voted but my husband had voted earlier in the morning. When they checked, they had indeed put my hubby’s info on *my* line. I stood there while it was corrected. Then I signed both papers and got the ticket to give to the poll worker to turn on the voting machine so I could vote. Now how many people would have done what I did? I hope most but you never know. What if it had been someone who is older and is forgetful. They may very well walk away without having voted at all.

In South Carolina where I live, voters sign in on a sheet of paper and the line you sign is recorded by poll workers. Also, this time there was a second sheet of paperthat you had to sign.  This paper had an oath at the top The oath was that you had NOT voted before in this election. That line number is also recorded by the poll workers. Interesting as that second sheet of paper was not there in the last election.

I can see both of our votes getting thrown out for voter fraud when the mistake was by the poll workers.

Good thing I am not in charge of elections as I would not only require photo ID but I would make everyone get a passport (or something similar for those who could not afford it) so that voter registration is tied to proof of your citizenship status. That would cut out a lot of voter fraud. Not a citizen? sorry. Also, I liked how in one online (cat fancy) election, you were given a password that you had to use in order to vote.  I wonder if something similar could be mailed to all registered voters and then you had to use that password to “unlock” the machine. you and only you could use that password. No. I would never use SS# as password.

Yep. it is time to make our election process secure.

[8] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 11-7-2012 at 07:46 AM · [top]

“Jedi mind tricks” kind of describes what happened.

[9] Posted by Fr. Dale on 11-7-2012 at 07:51 AM · [top]

Dr. Noll, if I could fix the mess we’re in by giving up my right to vote, I would do it.  It is humiliating to know that Obama’s appearances on vapid women’s talk shows is part of how this election result happened.  We are now an intellectually and morally unserious nation.

[10] Posted by Katherine on 11-7-2012 at 07:59 AM · [top]

I’m sorry Greg, but I think you are dead wrong.

The message that we, as Christians, should have taken away eighty years ago was that love of money is not a strong enough force to get the wealthy to do the right thing, for whatever reason. Now Christian conservatives have imperiled their cause by a misbegotten alliance with those same wealthy, whose raw lust for money and power is as good an explanation for their political views as any economic theory. One could tell at the last debate that they were hardly serious about the economics anyway: I heard Romney talk about expanding the navy, and besides wondering if those employed at the Bath Iron Works would thenceforth carry Maine for him (they didn’t), it was obvious that a Romney administration intended to run the same huge deficits that Bush did, in a welfare plan for defense contractors.

We have no traction on social issues because we are, by and large, whores to the rich and powerful. Thus we can never successfully call out liberal churchmen who have prostituted themselves to a different (and often overlapping) set of secular forces. All the time we spent erasing “for the love of money is the root of all evil” from our sermons gets noticed.

Finally, the “if Obama is elected we are going off a cliff” rhetoric is obviously contrary to fact. He has been president for four years, after all, and if the country was going to collapse under his rule, the time for that has passed. He underwhelms me, and he should have been vulnerable. But Republicans frittered it away, chasing after loopy and patently underqualified losers before settling on the as-lackluster-as-Obama Romney. Meanwhile the various personal lies about Obama continued to be spread. Conservatives cannot successfully oppose liberals unless they give up their commitment to stupid self-delusion and get back to dealing with the real world. Yes, social conservatism is in retreat—in large part because we put forward crass liars like Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh, and in part because we are so obviously willing to mouth the words of the powerful rich. Yes, economic conservatism is in retreat—in no small part because it has signed up for theories that, again, are convenient to the powerful and rich. It’s time to confess our sins, and in particular to the hysterical falsehood that re-electing Obama means the end of the world. What it means is that we have become incompetent as opposition to the liberals.

[11] Posted by C. Wingate on 11-7-2012 at 08:18 AM · [top]

I think I may be one of the few conservatives who are not surprised this morning.  Disappointed, heartbroken, disgusted…yes; surprised…no.  I don’t have much to add to what has been written above, except that I would like to see some sort of competency test for voting.  You have to pass a basic test to get a driver’s license; it should be the same for voting.  I am convinced that many of those who voted for Obama have no clue as to what he stands for, though, of course, many do and agree with him.  They voted for him because he is black (yes, he is) and because he is a nice guy (no, he isn’t).  I have the great misfortune of being a student of Roman history, so I know what is coming.  I also have the misfortune of having the gift of prophecy and the fate of Cassandra.

[12] Posted by Ann Castro on 11-7-2012 at 08:37 AM · [top]

Yes, Ann Castro.  Bread and circuses.

C. Wingate, enjoy your perspective.  You don’t see, evidently, the crony capitalist ties to big money which Obama has used and will continue to.  He has rewarded supporters with federal money.  To pretend this is a Republican problem (only) is blind.

[13] Posted by Katherine on 11-7-2012 at 08:56 AM · [top]

Catastrophe has overtaken us.  Lord have mercy.  God save the republic.

[14] Posted by evan miller on 11-7-2012 at 09:04 AM · [top]

Evan Miller…there is no Republic anymore.  There is only an Empire with an Emperor.  It’s that Roman history thing again!

[15] Posted by Ann Castro on 11-7-2012 at 09:26 AM · [top]

So show them all the ugly pictures you like. They don’t care. They’re not repulsed, because they don’t share our values, our morals, our ethics, or our appreciation of this country.

I think the attitude that links what Greg describes with my comments on the hook-up culture is “shamelessness.” Yes, it is a divergence of morals, but it is also a deadening of sensibility, instigated by personal sin and by society’s connivance. Woody Allen’s film “Crimes and Misdemeanors” is a marvelous and horrible presentation of this phenomenon.

[16] Posted by Stephen Noll on 11-7-2012 at 09:39 AM · [top]

Well said, Greg.  And I am of the same mind.  What this election says about the electorate disturbs me more than the re-election of Obama:

[17] Posted by Newbie Anglican on 11-7-2012 at 11:04 AM · [top]

1.  The Lord placed BHO in office.
2.  God has some great plans for our nation—interesting times ahead.
3.  The country is about evenly divided.
4.  Romney ran a great campaign—he played down his liberalism and got many reluctant conservatives to vote for him.
5.  There will never be a third party—we can only have two viable parties in our nation, so until one party dies will there be a replacement?
6.  Maybe we can get a different Republican party.  They have some great second stringers like Jindal,  Rand Paul and others, but will the up east establishment ever let them rise to the top or will they continue to give us Ivy Leaguers like McCain, Romney,  Bushes, etc. ?
7.  As a murderous nation we really don’t deserve anything but judgment.  But God is merciful and can save a nation or an individual.

[18] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 11-7-2012 at 12:41 PM · [top]

I take heart in remembering that even in the darkest of times good and faithful people have brought light and hope to those who longed for it.

[19] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 11-7-2012 at 01:08 PM · [top]

This is not the first time the faithful have been in the minority. Buck up (gird your loins) not it usn’t even as bad as it was then because Jesus lives and we know he’s already won the victory that matters. Even at a purely materialistic level, there are over 49 percent who haven’t bent the knee to Ba’al.

1 Kings 19:14-18 NIV84

He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”

[20] Posted by Doug Stein on 11-7-2012 at 01:33 PM · [top]

Katherine, that’s why I said “overlapping”. I’ve said plenty about the ECUSA leadership’s failure to acknowledge their actual ties to power and wealth. But rich people pushing for a tax-and-spend president gives an impression of social responsibility, not self-serving double talk.

I want to see conservative pushback against the liberals. But it seems to me that this campaign was saved from being an object example of how not to do that only because Obama started with such disadvantages. I would have welcomed a Ron Paul vs. Obama campaign, not so much because I think Paul would have won (he would have lost worse, I think) but because the campaign would have been a lot more edifying. Romney was too much “Obama with big tax cuts, no Obamacare, and increased defense spending”; everything I object to most about Obama, he promised to do more of. Meanwhile, every Republican who stepped up to sexuality issues and abortion seemed to say something stupid and alienating. It’s no surprise that they all lost.

[21] Posted by C. Wingate on 11-7-2012 at 01:38 PM · [top]

C. Wingate, I was tempted to draw comparisons between the ECUSA leadership which took my church away from me and the national leadership which is in the process of taking away my country, but I didn’t.  You brought it up.  I will return to politics.  I don’t think your view of the campaigns, either of them, is what really happened.  Romney, in the general election campaign, presented a responsible conservative alternative to current policy.  Even this “moderate” version of the conservative message was rejected in favor of an Obama campaign which promised what it has no plans to deliver and which engaged in a destructive and dishonest attack on a highly respectable opponent, assisted by “news” media who should be ashamed of themselves but aren’t.  Voters wanted the fairy tale and not reality.  That is what the majority in the country want now, and they will have it.  When the hyperinflation, devaluation, and rationing of medical services begin, they should reflect on this vote—but they won’t.

[22] Posted by Katherine on 11-7-2012 at 01:53 PM · [top]

Katherine, I won’t engage in the folly of trying to explain the thinking of others; I can only explain mine. But I will say that you’ve left out an important part of this, which is to say, the primary campaign. When you look at the winnowing out, Romney was the only one left after the wacky, the underqualified, and the too sane (I for instance would have liked Jon Huntsman) were eliminated. Romney was the only one who managed not to sound too crazy or too stupid, who had enough of a resume to be plausible, and who could bring himself to pander to the tea party enough to get them to give him an edge over the other sane candidates. This left Romney objectionable on some ground or another to almost anyone who didn’t have a partisan commitment to a Republican victory.

And as for fairy tales: consider this Atlantic analysis of conservative media involvement in the campaign. A quote:

Conservatives were at an information disadvantage because so many right-leaning outlets wasted time on stories the rest of America dismissed as nonsense. World Net Daily brought you Birtherism. Forbes brought you Kenyan anti-colonialism. National Review obsessed about an imaginary rejection of American exceptionalism, misrepresenting an Obama quote in the process, and Andy McCarthy was interviewed widely about his theory that Obama, aka Drone Warrior in Chief, allied himself with our Islamist enemy in a “Grand Jihad” against America. Seriously?

And this isn’t even the most damning passage.

[23] Posted by C. Wingate on 11-7-2012 at 02:15 PM · [top]

C. Wingate, complaining about World Net Daily among others is hardly constructive when your side has included wackos such as Andrew Sullivan and Bill Maher, among many others.

I am done.  I have no interest in re-fighting a lost campaign on the same foolish terms on which the original battle was fought and lost.

[24] Posted by Katherine on 11-7-2012 at 03:11 PM · [top]

[7] Ok, let’s go along with your ghastly thought experiment for a second and say we strip women of the vote.  So then single men and married men both have the vote but not women, right?  One man—one vote, one women—no vote, and one married couple—one vote.  Seems me to that says to women that their additive political power is zero and that women’s only hope of political power is through petitioning men who have the right to ignore them in a secret ballot.

But I’m sure you didn’t wish to imply that women, humans made in the image of God, have no “interests,” a word you use.  The implication seems to be that women have interests but that they need men to exercise them responsibly at the polls.  Women need men to vote on their behalf seems to be the idea.  Paternalism.  Ok, so let’s extend that idea out.  Let’s give every adult woman a guardian who’s charged with exercising her vote on her behalf.  So married men and the fathers, uncles, brothers, and lovers of single adult women would also gain votes too.  So man with many women—many votes; man with no women—one vote, and women single and married—zero formal votes.  In other words, patriarchy.  We’d have a caste of single, relatively disenfranchised men, i.e. a warrior caste, and a ruler caste of older fathers and husbands incentivized to accumulate power by accumulating women.  Of course, that’s a society that structurally encourages… polygamy.

[25] Posted by The Plantagenets on 11-7-2012 at 03:29 PM · [top]

I guess I am the only who sees the fraud for what it really is- the ability to eliminate the conservative part of our country so we can all be happy Dem’s. Oh joy…..... not.

[26] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 11-7-2012 at 03:43 PM · [top]

Katherine, I must confess that I lost track of Sullivan after he left the Atlantic (which is hardly an outpost of loony leftism: at the moment they seem to be rather pissed at the conservative press machinery for being such idiots), but I was under the impression that he was supposed to be on your side. And back when I did read him, I thought that a lot of the time he was incorrect, but never really that he was actively delusional or lying. Maher was never on my radar at all but anyone who takes down 9/11 conspiracy nutcases can’t be all bad. The whole birther thing by contrast passed extremely quickly from dubiously legitimate doubts to bald lying and rumor-mongering in no time at all.

[27] Posted by C. Wingate on 11-7-2012 at 05:07 PM · [top]

So, how did Obama shore up his base?

1.  Supported homosexual marriage
2.  Taxpayer-funded abortion
3.  Bailed out automaker unions
4.  200,000 new federal employees
5.  15,000,000 more folks on food stamps
6.  Eliminated work requirement for welfare
7.  More folks on welfare than any time in history
8.  Loaned $90,000,000,000 to Green Energy companies, many run by large campaign contributers
9.  Started campaigning in swing states 18 months ago

Those of you paying attention will note that 2-9 were done using YOUR MONEY.

However, Obama won because too many folks are “one issue” voters.  Obama cobbled these strange bedfellows together under one tent - homosexuals, unions, pro-abortion supporters, those-on-the-government-dole, federal employees, etc.  These folks don’t care that Obama is bad for the economy, or is dooming our nation to Socialism - so long as he supports their cause.  Selfish beyond belief.

[28] Posted by B. Hunter on 11-7-2012 at 05:14 PM · [top]

“Maher was never on my radar at all but anyone who takes down 9/11 conspiracy nutcases can’t be all bad.”

Coming from a man who supports the man who tried to appoint Van Jones.

[29] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 11-7-2012 at 05:36 PM · [top]

SJSP, I missed that particular round of appointment drama, but from what I can tell, Jones’s appointment was sunk by the allegations, which would be OK even though it’s not all that clear that he actually did sign the document as claimed. This does not strike me as a telling point. At any rate I’m just as contemptuous of loopy leftist 9/11 conspiracy buffs as I am of those on the right.

[30] Posted by C. Wingate on 11-7-2012 at 05:56 PM · [top]

I’m absolutely shocked to read the comments here. I’m a devout Christian and I think Barack Obama has been, and will continue to be, a wonderful president. Let’s keep the nation and its leaders in our prayers. President Obama is, after all, our leader, and will be for another four years.

[31] Posted by marthamary on 11-7-2012 at 07:13 PM · [top]


Please square your devout Christian faith and your admiration of Barack Obama, with the president’s unqualified for support for abortion, as well as leaving infants born alive after failed abortions to die on operating tables.

I mean, as long as we’re talking about being absolutely shocked.

[32] Posted by Greg Griffith on 11-7-2012 at 07:20 PM · [top]

I’m guessing that MarthaMary’s shock is because she didn’t realize how many Christians—indeed, Episcopalians—value individual liberty, limited government, free enterprise, private property rights, and the Constitution, not to mention not killing innocent babies in the womb.

And now she knows . . .

She’ll get used to her new-found awareness after a while.

[33] Posted by Sarah on 11-7-2012 at 07:33 PM · [top]

Sarah, you’re correct, I didn’t realize how many Christians valued the things you mention—and seem to value them over membership in the body of Christ. In a civic context, I’ll happily take things like paved public roads with traffic signals, clean water, safe food, and regulations against child labor over individual liberty and limited government any time. I’ve always understood a call to Christian faith precisely as a call to give up one’s worldly freedoms in exchange for another, more lasting kind of freedom. I find the association between Christianity and the kind of individual liberty you speak of quite unsettling.

[34] Posted by marthamary on 11-7-2012 at 08:07 PM · [top]

Kill all the unborn children you want, as long as the trains run on time. Got it.

[35] Posted by Greg Griffith on 11-7-2012 at 08:18 PM · [top]

“I’ve always understood a call to Christian faith precisely as a call to give up one’s worldly freedoms in exchange for another”

But of course you’re not giving up your freedom. In order to assuage your guilt about not giving up the things you value so highly, you think other people ought to be compelled to give up whatever the government thinks they ought to, even if the government spends it in ways that are evil, wasteful, etc. You’re pulling a bait and switch.

I don’t think even the most devout proponent of limited government has anything against roads, child labor laws or clean water. To leap from there to paying for abortions, Solyndra, welfare devoid of the Clinton reforms, and ceding freedoms to the UN, etc. is a complete non-sequitur.

Why do liberals have so much difficulty or such reluctance to discuss these details?

[36] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 11-7-2012 at 08:20 PM · [top]

Also, as a devout Christian, do you think Jesus Christ gets to define marriage? Or is His Word trumped by the Zeitgeist? What do you think of Obama’s record in that area? (June, DOMA, DADT, Kevin Jennings, his flunkey Rahm & Chik-Fil-A, etc. etc.)?

If you have kids in your immediate family, do you want them to be indoctrinated with the junk Obama is peddling?

[37] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 11-7-2012 at 08:25 PM · [top]

RE: “and seem to value them over membership in the body of Christ.”

I hadn’t realized that voting for Barack Obama and not valuing the document that our elected officials all swore to uphold as the standard by which we would run this country were the requirements for “membership in the body of Christ.”

That certainly takes church-state connection to new heights.

RE: “I’ve always understood a call to Christian faith precisely as a call to give up one’s worldly freedoms in exchange for another, more lasting kind of freedom.”

I hadn’t realized that giving up Constitutional liberties was required in order to experience freedom in Christ. I’m guessing, then, that those in North Korea must be considered quite superior followers of Christ by that standard.

RE: “I find the association between Christianity and the kind of individual liberty you speak of quite unsettling.”

Oh, somehow I suspect that your idea of “Christianity” is a sight different from mine. For example I’m guessing you treat the rule of the Christian faith much like you treat the founding documents of our country.

[38] Posted by Sarah on 11-7-2012 at 08:26 PM · [top]

Excellent observations Mr. Griffith.  I’m still struggling to get my head around this but your words help make sense of what’s rumbling around my head.  The Conservative/Liberal continuum has been moving steadily to the left.  Today’s mainstream Liberals would have been considered dangerous in previous generations and today’s conservatives really aren’t.  In 2008 I felt that the nation could withstand 4 years of Obama, but not 8.  Obamacare will not be repealled.  Our taxes - everyones taxes - will rise but politicians (both Libs and Cons) won’t tighten their belts one bit.  Unemployment will remain at unhealthy levels - my guess is above 5-6%.  GDP will be anemic.  The country might be ready for a “Republican” in 2016 but not the remedy that will be be even stronger and more bitter.  I generally hate the excesses of doomsday predictions, but I doubt we will see much vibrancy from a conservative movement.  This was a victory for lying Yellow Journalism.

[39] Posted by Nikolaus on 11-7-2012 at 10:04 PM · [top]

I think that it will be some time before we can really absorb yesterday’s results, but here are several thoughts.

1) Gay “marriage” proponents won all 4 ballot measures on that subject last night.  It won’t be long before gay “marriage” will be the law in virtually every blue state.  Obama will also have 4 years to appoint more liberals to the Supreme Court.  These two trends make it much more likely that gay “marriage” will soon be deemed to be a fundamental constitutional right.

The next two thoughts look north to the experience of the Canadian Conservative party.  Both a positive and a negative example.

2) Many are suggesting that the GOP needs to become socially liberal and fiscally conservative in order to win again.  This, they say, will make the party attractive to urban hipsters.  Well, the Canadian Conservative party has done this - despite having a majority government, they won’t introduce any legislation to hamper taxpayer funded abortion at all (i.e. taxpayer funded abortion up to the moment of birth is the law right now), and they have jumped on board the gay “marriage” bandwagon.  Yet, for all that….the media still accuse them of being right wing extremists.  The media elite will always back the more liberal party no matter what.

Having said that, the GOP needs to rethink how it portrays itself in this area.  I do believe that Akin and Mourdock caused serious damage to both themselves and the GOP brand with their foolish comments.  I would suggest that the GOP needs to have some sort of candidate school where they are told to shut up about social issues unless they are relevant.  The media will ask questions but the media isn’t genuinely interested in hearing a well thought out or theologically nuanced answer.  The ONLY reason they ask the questions are to trip up the candidate.  So the candidate should never answer the question asked because they are being dishonestly asked.  A US Senate candidate should respond by asking “why are you asking me about abortion?  This election is about [insert campaign theme advocating conservative government generally here].”  The only rejoinder that should lead a candidate to respond further would be “but you as a Senator will vote to confirm judges who may rule of Roe v. Wade” to which the candidate should respond that he would favor judges who apply the constitution as written and do not try to mandate social policy from the bench.

3) I absolutely agree that the GOP needs to reach out to Latino and other ethnic minority voters.  But not by pandering.  A positive example from Canada.  For many years, the Conservative party was the party of whites.  And they frequently lost or cobbled together minority governments.  The Liberal party was the favorite of the ethnic groups because the Liberals routinely pandered to ethnic voters, handing out shiny trinkets to buy votes.  About 10 years ago, a forward thinking Conservative member of Parliament (MP) embarked on a long-term, in-depth outreach to the ethnic minorities in Canada.  Not by pandering, or just paying attention during election seasons, but by an extended engagement with the communities on a continual basis.  He worked hard at getting to understand them, what they wanted, what their values were.  And he discovered that the ethnic communities often held conservative values but felt that they were not welcome in the Conservative party.  Anyway, this past election in Canada, his work paid off and the Conservatives won big and won big amongst the ethnic minority voters.

This is what the GOP needs to do.  It needs to seriously engage and include Latino and Asian-American GOP leaders and GOP leaders need to get out and seriously engage these communities.  Build relationships - real relationships, not fake ones.  Make it clear that there will be no pandering.  Find out what the Latino community wants on immigration and share appropriate concerns.  Share a vision of authentic conservatism.

4) It seems to me that we have seen the “Californization’ of American politics as a whole.  What do I mean by that?  In its endorsement of Obama last week, the Economist magazine pointed out that America likes to have big government spending with small government taxes.  This strikes me as very Californian.  California routinely elects big-spending Democrats to government but then tries to limit the government’s ability to raise taxes - at least on THEM.  So compare two tax propositions voted on this fall - Prop. 30 and Prop. 38.  The supposed problem that both were trying to address was funding cuts to schools.  Prop. 30 proposed to tax rich people only along with a small sales tax increase, but there were monster-sized holes to allow the increased taxes to go directly to the government’s general fund.  Prop. 38 was much stricter about the funds going to the schools, but would have taxed EVERYONE.  Prop. 30 won, but 38 lost big-time.

The American people seem to have caught this disease.  They elected big-spending Obama whose basic re-election strategy was to demonize his opponent and give away nice shiny trinkets (free birth control, anyone?) to the voters.  And Americans went for that.  But then they were also sure to return a GOP majority to the House (heh, no tax increases with those guys there).  This can’t continue forever.  In California it was pushed the state to the fiscal edge.  At some point, the piper will need to be paid, but so many people in California now respond to government handouts of one form or another like Pavlov’s dogs.

5) One of the things that is a huge problem for the GOP right now is that they have utterly and completely lost the “culture war” for the nation’s elite institutions, such as academia, schools, media, professional groups, entertainment, and large corporations.  All of these elite groups are unabashed social liberals.  The response of the GOP has not been to re-tool and take back these groups, but rather to reject them.  Thus a GOP hero is one who is anti-academia, anti-media, anti-elite, but all too often in a way that sounds anti-intellectual.  This is the problem with the Tea Party.  It’s just not enough to nominate the loudest, most anti-elite person you can find - the GOP needs to find intelligent, articulate, rational candidates who can incisively criticize the liberal elites.  And conservatives need to work to gain influence in these elite groups - not to “take them over” or such, but to ensure that the conservative voice is heard.

6) Final thought is that the GOP needs to find candidates who believe thoughtfully and passionately in rational conservatism and who can simply and articulately convey that larger vision to the nation.  I agree with Sarah that Romney did not do this because he didn’t really believe in conservatism.  Conservatism does NOT (contrary to some comments here) mean opposition to any government whatsoever.  Yes, conservatives do believe in paved streets, clean water and no child labor.  Conservatism believes, however, that the best role of government is to maintain a basic civil order, and then step back and let Americans get on with their own lives.  This as opposed to the Obama/Democrat vision of the European/Scandinavian cradle-to-grave welfare state (Julia, anyone?) which holds forth that citizens can’t be trusted to make their own choices (except of course in terms of sex and abortion, in which cases those choices must be subsidized by the taxpayer).

It may be that America has past the point of no return, and if it has, so be it.  There is nothing we can do but prepare ourselves (as Sarah points out).  Think about it - I’ll bet that if you could travel through time back to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, the people would not have thought of it as such.  Ordinary people continued to live - many of the more vulnerable had very hard lives, while those that knew how to take care of themselves survived, and those who knew how to game the corrupt system did very well.  So it will be in a future Democrat America - the poor and vulnerable will be hit hardest; many will manage to survive; while the Democrat cronies will do very well for themselves.  And if this is the fate of America, we can hope that the torch of liberty could eventually pass somewhere else for a new national experiment in liberty.

[40] Posted by jamesw on 11-7-2012 at 10:58 PM · [top]

I want to reflect for a moment on the similarity between the takeover of the US government (and potentially its polity) and the takeover of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. Several quick points:

1.  It’s the same progressive ideology behind both. That’s why I don’t think it matters whether it’s Barack or Hilary or Frank or Katherine in charge. They are united in their worldview and plans to be “transformative.” The TEC hierarchy are progressives with collars just as the MSM are progressives with bylines. The irony is that religious progressives need their secular counterparts, but secularists do not really need religion. Hence the only religious effort by the Obama campaign was to divide the RC Church and they made no direct appeal to the mainline churches. They didn’t need to: the latter were already their dependents.

2.  Progressives aim to break down subsidiary structures – family, church, local government, constitution (and canons)  - and to centralize power from the top. At the Anglican Communion level, the “Lambeth bureaucracy” controls all the official “Instruments” both by the purse-strings and by techniques like indaba (see ACC-15).

3.  Progressives break down the subsidiary structures by divide–and-conquer, by picking off individuals and making them feel aggrieved and deprived of their rights. This observation was behind my admittedly absurd suggestion to repeal the 19th Amendment. The very fact that it seems absurd, i.e., that we should think of the family unit as a little kingdom unto itself, is a sign of how far the progressives have used individualism to undermine the social order. Similarly, it seems absurd to deny the right of a woman to be bishop in order to preserve the solidarity and order of the church. (I’ll withhold comment on the newly-rumored ABC, except to say his unreflective support of women’s ordination does not bode well for his charting a new course for Canterbury.)

4.  We are in the midst of a culture war in both Church and society. Conservatives usually think of this as a war of ideas and so they try to take on the opposing viewpoint. Progressives dismiss conservative ideas as relics of “guns and religion,” fundamentalist religion in particular. Their understanding of “right” and “truth” is less foundational and more notional (political correctness). Absent true reason, the achievement of power becomes their highest good.

5.  When progressives do take power, conservatives face difficult choices: stay and fight, withdraw and form a counter-culture, compromise and hope for the best. In the case of a country like UK or USA, one cannot easily withdraw, though one can find temporary relief by moving from California to Texas. In the USA, churches are voluntary societies, so one can stay or leave, if one is willing to pay the price. In UK, the notion of the Established Church complicates this matter, I suppose.

[41] Posted by Stephen Noll on 11-8-2012 at 06:42 AM · [top]

The sad part is, whoever follows Obama, one to three elections from now, will pay the price for Obama adding 80-100% more to our national debt.  When we finally grow up and elect an adult as president the pain from that will be far far worse.  By re-electing Obama the “safety-net” that gives folks free cell phones and contraceptives will collapse under the weight of the desire for more “free stuff.”

Unlike Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy, we don’t have a Germany to bail us out.

What will we do when the Fed takes its thumb off the scale and the deficits aren’t being financed at 0.5% interest and all we can do is pay debt?  Social Security - gone, Medicare -  gone, Medicaid - gone, Food stamps - gone and Obama will be giving speeches overseas about what a crappy country America is because we can’t afford to help anyone anymore.

When your pal maxes out your credit card buying Cheetos and condoms, I fear we’re going to blame the adult who cuts up the card rather than your buddy who ran your credit score into the ground.

[42] Posted by Bill2 on 11-8-2012 at 07:44 AM · [top]

[41] “...but secularists really do not need religion.”

I respectfully somewhat disagree. Secularists need religion as a basis for (false or outrageous) strawmen against which to show the superiority of their ideology, compassion, whatever. The secularists rarely argue the merits of their ways in any absolute sense but only relative to constructs of their creation to show off their advantages. And they love to place believers on the defensive. When one cannot defend one’s positions or results on their own, one is forced to attack.

[43] Posted by Don+ on 11-8-2012 at 09:02 AM · [top]

Bill2 - the crash that Obama will usher in will take place well after Obama has left the White House.  And it will be blamed on others.  People rarely see the crash happening until it does.  And then there will be a tremendous amount of pain and hurt and damage.  But Obama and his cronies won’t be hurt, nor will they be blamed.  Look at Greece - how many protests to do you see in anger against the free-spending politicians that got them into the mess in the first place?  No, instead you see protests against Wicked Germany and Wicked Angela Merkel who won’t bail them out with no strings attached so they can continue their profligate ways.

[44] Posted by jamesw on 11-8-2012 at 01:23 PM · [top]

Look at the bright side - the Mayan calendar predictions about Dec. 22 might be right, and then the disastrous result of an Obama second term won’t happen.  wink

[45] Posted by Nellie on 11-8-2012 at 02:11 PM · [top]

Bill2, you’re right on about “blaming the adult who cut up the credit cards.” George W. was the irresponsible child, and now Obama is fixing the mess left behind. It won’t be an easy job, but at least now he’ll have eight years. You may not see things this way right now, but here’s some interesting information:

[46] Posted by marthamary on 11-8-2012 at 02:58 PM · [top]

marthamary - Statistics can be dressed up in lots of different ways:

You can’t just pick the one article in a million that makes the (weak) argument that Obama hasn’t been a profligate spender.  But economics aside, how can you possibly justify supporting Obama when he ran in 2012 on the most pro-abortion platform of any President who has come before?  I can see that a Christian might not like Republicans, or even may style themselves a socialist on economic issues.  I can understand that not very many people really understand economics and grasp at whatever articles might support their previously held opinions.  But I can’t understand how a Christian can possibly support someone who established as a major plank of his election platform the destruction and death of human beings in a cynical ploy for votes.

[47] Posted by jamesw on 11-8-2012 at 03:21 PM · [top]

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
John Adams


John Adams was correct and since we fail to meet the criteria for our form of government we are failing. People lacking restraint and self control are voting for their individual good over the common good.  I remember when there was stigma to being on the dole.  It should be noted that Africa is sending missionaries to America!

[48] Posted by Dave B on 11-8-2012 at 07:49 PM · [top]

By the way, I found this articleto be a very thoughtful analysis about the future of conservatism in the US.  The best overall point is that the Democrats will be facing the natural consequences of their policy proposals which will necessarily lead to major ruptures in their coalition.  What conservatives need to do is get back to the basics, get rid of a lot of the non-conservative window dressing that is dragging us down, and be ready to make our case when the time comes.

[49] Posted by jamesw on 11-8-2012 at 07:58 PM · [top]

Jamesw, I didn’t just pick one article in a million; I’ve read many, many articles that explain the many positive things President Obama has done for our country. I’ve also ready quite a bit about the good things Romney has done for MA. I happen to think Obama makes the better president of the two; so we disagree. I do think that George W. Bush left the US in pretty bad shape.

As for abortion, yes I think it’s wrong in most cases, but I don’t think making it illegal is the answer. Legislation tends to be written with such a broad brush that too often physicians and patients can be left unable to pursue necessary courses of treatment when women’s lives are at stake and often when the chances of the child being carried to term are negligible. Legislation moves slowly and laws have a hard time keeping up with changes and advances in medical treatments. I know abortion is an emotionally charged issue. Again, we can agree to disagree. I don’t think there’s anyone we could elect to any office who could do away with sin.

I’m just taken aback at the level of vitriol and negativity I find here. The most important thing is our common bond in Christ Jesus. Even if you’re not happy with Obama as president for four more years, can you at least find Christ in him?

[50] Posted by marthamary on 11-8-2012 at 10:44 PM · [top]

RE: “I’m just taken aback at the level of vitriol and negativity I find here.”

I’m not certain why. President Obama’s foundational worldview, his guiding principles, and his values are antithetical to our own. Obviously we find that highly negative, and the consequences of his actions, which are in keeping with his worldview, guiding principles, and values are quite dire and “negative” as well.  Of course, I don’t think the negative assessments of Obama’s actions and beliefs and rhetoric are “vitriolic” at all, so I can’t really respond to that descriptive.

RE: “The most important thing is our common bond in Christ Jesus.”

I’m not certain about whom you are speaking, so I can’t comment. I don’t presume to know who is in Christ and who is not—I cannot know whom Christ has converted to Him. I can only comment on their actions and stated worldviews, which in Obama’s case are not remotely connected to the Gospel.

RE: “can you at least find Christ in him?”

Not certain why one would attempt to do that. The image of God, of course, is stamped in every human being, which includes President Obama, and Christ is in every Christian believer.

But like I said, I don’t judge whether someone is a Christian convert, since I cannot see their heart. I only assess their actions and rhetoric, which is all we have to go on.

[51] Posted by Sarah on 11-8-2012 at 11:06 PM · [top]


How interesting that Obama is the ‘adult’ since the debt increased incrementally under Obama than Bush.  Have you ever spoken to a Republican congressman about his or her experience in dealing with the budget?

Well, the Democrats refuse to cut ANYTHING, anything even like cowboy poetry.  I think their unwillingness to even pursue a budget shows how irresponsible and craven they are.

While Obama may have done some good things according to you, they are actions centered around a Marxist philosophy of government.  Sorry, but I want to be free, and I am now questioning those of you who call themselves Christians and follow Obama. 

Marthamary, I want to be free.  Free of a burdensome government that decides for me where my hard earned money should go.  Limited federal government means that a government should only govern in particular areas of life in a country.  This would give the individual in each state more control over their lives and a tangible voice in how they wish to be governed.  It appears you want to give Mr. Obama the benefit of the doubt.  Many of us are far beyond that level of charity when we feel the tangible, small but growing persecution of conservatives from your viewpoint.

Would you like to come and defend me and my freedom of conscience?

[52] Posted by JRR on 11-9-2012 at 07:17 AM · [top]

Its sort of strange to see how “Stand Firm” has evolved from a discussion of differences within the Episcopal Church into one of a political forum for the right wing of the Republican Party.

[53] Posted by ruauper2 on 11-9-2012 at 01:21 PM · [top]

Where’s my TrollBeGone spray?

[54] Posted by Newbie Anglican on 11-9-2012 at 02:12 PM · [top]


Why is it “strange”? We announced this very publicly, in detail, last spring with our new design re-launch.

[55] Posted by Greg Griffith on 11-9-2012 at 02:57 PM · [top]


Jamesw, I didn’t just pick one article in a million; I’ve read many, many articles that explain the many positive things President Obama has done for our country.

Yes, I am sure that one can find many articles written by left-wing pundits applauding Obama.  And articles written by right-wing pundits that praise conservatives.  I am a librarian and I see lots of information overload.  What I try to teach folks is to critically analyze that which you read.

As for abortion, yes I think it’s wrong in most cases, but I don’t think making it illegal is the answer. Legislation tends to be written with such a broad brush that too often physicians and patients can be left unable to pursue necessary courses of treatment when women’s lives are at stake and often when the chances of the child being carried to term are negligible. Legislation moves slowly and laws have a hard time keeping up with changes and advances in medical treatments.

Why do you think abortion is “wrong in most cases”?  If it is because it is killing an unborn child, why is making it illegal not the answer?  Perhaps the laws against murder aren’t the answer either, since they could complicate things when people need to defend themselves.  Oh wait, we have laws that permit killing in self-defense!  Perhaps laws against speeding aren’t the answer because that could complicate things when lives are at stake and we need to rush people to the hospital.  Oh wait, we have laws to cover that too!  Your argument that abortion is “wrong in most cases” but shouldn’t be illegal is pathetic, especially coming from a self-described supporter of President Obama who seems to regulate everything else in life. 

I know abortion is an emotionally charged issue.

Yeah, because it involves killing innocent human beings, and why some people seem to have no problem with this killing being perfectly legal.

Again, we can agree to disagree. I don’t think there’s anyone we could elect to any office who could do away with sin.

And so, we repeal all laws???  The fact that you make this argument as a Democrat supporter is bizarre and surreal.  Democrats want to regulate virtually everything, but suddenly when abortion is brought up we are told “oh, no, regulation isn’t the answer!”

I’m just taken aback at the level of vitriol and negativity I find here.

Sorry that you seem incapable of dealing with criticism of your hero.  You might try thinking a little more critically about some of the things you assume and believe.

The most important thing is our common bond in Christ Jesus. Even if you’re not happy with Obama as president for four more years, can you at least find Christ in him?

What has this to do with the price of tea in China?  What if I said to you “Even if you’re not happy with Hitler/Stalin/Pol Pot/George W. Bush as [leader], can you at least find Christ in him?”

What does that even mean Marthamary?  This is an utterly meaningless, irrelevant, faux-pious comment.

[56] Posted by jamesw on 11-9-2012 at 04:27 PM · [top]

#56 “The fact that you make this argument as a Democrat supporter is bizarre and surreal.”

Beat me to it. #50 marthamary thinks government is inadequate to deal with issues, when it suits her. She says it is too “broad brush”, and gives no reason why.

But then again, she thinks government is perfectly adequate to deal with other issues, when it suits her. When specific objections are raised to government’s inadequacies on these points, she ignores them. I’m with #54.

[57] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 11-9-2012 at 05:43 PM · [top]

Excellent thougthful article and much appreciated. The secular world we’ve come to know more realistically has spoken, even though sadly through many who call themselves Christians, even Evangelicals and Charismatics, though their association with faith seems to stop at the door of the “I want” factor. Entitlements since for sure Roosevelt have weakened the resolve of our citizen’s desires to work rather than depend on a government check. Entitlements that go beyond Holy Scripture have weakened the resolve of most mainline church’s and paved the way to a rewrite of scripture that reflects the secularized mind that’s seized the hearts of this country. We reap what we sow and that’s the bottom line if there ever was one!

[58] Posted by GEM on 11-10-2012 at 12:55 PM · [top]

So glad we, the only remaining superpower, are going down the tubes.  It’s about time we let someone else take over.  Being the giant of the world is a tiring business and perhaps another nation would like to ‘take charge’ as it were!

As to the ‘conservative vs liberal’ debate, i find it a bit tiring since both parties seem to feed from the same trough.  when we have to live like peasants in 18th century Russia in order to just survive, I’ll start t listen to you all.

The oil is gradually running out, and our petroleum economy is weakening.  Anyone care about that?

And the dollar as the currency of last resort is possibly on its last legs.  anyone care?

I didn’t think so!

Good bye and please turn off the lights when you leave!

[59] Posted by rdrjames on 12-4-2012 at 10:53 PM · [top]

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