A Plea to our Next President

By Graham Glover

We are less than 9 months away from electing the next President of the United States. After months of talk and preparation, the electorate and pundits are knee deep in the primaries. There are still a lot of votes to be cast, but I suspect that after the 15th of March we will have a pretty good idea of who the nominees are going to be for each party.

Like almost every other political prognosticator, I am at a loss for how the 2016 election is unfolding. The rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders is simply unexplainable. The demise of Jeb Bush and to a certain degree, the lack of inevitability of Hillary Clinton, is almost impossible to comprehend. I’m all but certain Hillary will prevail on the Democratic side, but the Republicans are a mess. Nobody knows what to expect over the next 3 weeks from the GOP. For starters, I cannot fathom how Donald Trump is convincing over 30% of the Republican electorate to vote for him. Regardless of how you fell about this man, he doesn’t fit the Republican mold in any way. Senator Cruz may well find a way to win, but the disdain so many of his colleagues (to include many Republicans) feel toward him is very Goldwater-esque. Senator Rubio is now the “Establishment” alternative to Trump, but tell me where and how he wins. Dr. Carson is all but forgotten and as much as I wish it weren’t the case, I can’t see Governor Kasich finding a way forward.

But no matter who wins the primaries and is ultimately elected as the next President of the United States, I have a simple plea for the next leader of the free world. I’m pretty sure my thoughts won’t ever be considered, but in the off chance my soon-to-be boss might be reading The Jagged Word, here it goes: Please, for the sake of our Republic, stop the madness. Stop the incessant partisanship infecting our land and guide our leaders to govern with those from the opposition party. Our democracy needs this. Our electorate, despite the rise of Trump and Sanders, truly wants this. Common sense pragmatism dictates it.

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Regardless of who wins, the very first thing they should do is reach out to the other party. Instead of rallying their base and focusing on implementing their campaign platform, the next president should seek ways to work with the opposition, to include implementation of their platform. Crazy, I know. Unlikely, I’m sure. But it’s the right thing to do.

For the Democrats, this means having an honest conversation about fixing our health care system with those who wish to dismantle the hallmark of President Obama’s administration. I still don’t think Obamacare will ever be overturned, but it has a long way to go to meet the health care needs of our nation. It’s ok Democrats, to admit the system needs a lot of work. This doesn’t make you a bad Democrat. It’s also ok to reach out to private insurance companies to help make it better. Speaking of private industry, the vast majority of private business owners are honest, hard-working Americans, just trying to make a living. So stop vilifying those who succeed in the private sector. I know you don’t really believe your campaign rhetoric about those who have done well for themselves, but the class warfare you sometimes espouse on the stump only exacerbates the emotions of an already volatile electorate. So invite business leaders, many of whom are hard-core Republicans, to help design your economic package. Encourage them to be a part of the process instead of the popular image that you want to punish them for their success. It would also be worth your time to sit down with the pro-life movement. I know, I know, Planned Parenthood will lose their minds when you do this, but what could be more “democratic” than looking out for life? And even if you don’t think life begins at conception, you can’t possibly think that the encouragement of this great evil is a good thing for women? Don’t believe me? Try talking with the grass roots members of a movement whose only purpose is to support life.

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For the Republicans, this means entirely changing the focus of your tax strategy. You can’t have the foundation of your economic plan geared toward the betterment of the top 1% of the wage earners. The super-donors of your campaigns should be uninvited from any conversation you have about the economy. They don’t deserve to be part of the political process. However, you should invite some of the most socially and culturally liberal activists you can find to your conservative White House. I have in mind members of those groups who support redefining marriage and sexuality, as well as the throngs of college-aged students who are feeling the “Bern”. Instead of rallying the religious right against the “sins” of these folks, why don’t you take the time to listen and learn what it is that inspires so many to rebel against the norms of our society. You’ve also got to take a deep breath before you think about getting in another war. Look, I get it, there is a lot of evil in the world and the United States is and will remain, the lone super power. With great power comes great responsibility. But this doesn’t mean we go to war with our every enemy in the world. Military strength is great, but so too is patient diplomacy. Finally, you might want to reconnect with some of the truest conservatives out there, those of “The Front Porch Republic” type who have a love of locality, the environment, and a simple populism. The neoconservative movement is over. It’s time to turn the page.

Can you imagine the possibilities?

That’s my plea. That’s my hope. For Hillary, the Donald, Senator Cruz or Rubio.

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13 thoughts on “A Plea to our Next President

  1. “Can you imagine the possibilities?”

    I can imagine the possibility that you are going to receive a lot of negative comments on this thread. 🙂

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  2. Graham, I understand your plea and I have some sympathy for why you make it. I agree also that what is happening in this election cycle is hard to understand. I have to say a couple of things about it that may help. First of all, I cannot imagine a lot of common ground between the parties as they stand. There is, I think, in my mind a great deal of perception about what the two find to be important. I believe with all my heart and soul that what most Democrats of the political class want is very bad for the country, and even for them. If they got what they wanted, in general, they could not do any of what they want right now. They would find no freedom or resources to do it, as self-destructive as it is (I know that is probably hard for many to swallow – another long discussion, I suppose). The Republican political class is in trouble, too. What they espouse as conservatives doesn’t work for them, because they believe it will damage their pursuit of power to do what they espouse (that’s kinda paralyzing). In summary, political types want what will only hurt their current goals.

    Bernie Sanders is doing well vs. Hillary because he’s honest and has some apparent charisma to connect with people. She is not honest, is perhaps even criminally corrupt, and has no charisma. What he wants is insane in my mind, so he probably won’t get enough backing to win, finally, because thinking people know that what he wants is probably not viable in the political system right now. Also her political connections are too strong, strong enough to make even small wins or close losses insufficient for him to finish. Still, he does connect to people and is showing well.

    Donald Trump is a strange phenomenon born, I think, of the horror and inefficacy of liberal government joined with the utter paralysis of political conservatives to do what even they want to do. He is not political in nature, much like Fiorina and Carson (I think that’s why they started out well); and so not, by nature, connected to either party’s faults or motivations. He wants what is good for the country and is not beholden to the system that has failed us all, or so he has so far convinced many voters. His lack of conservative credentials upsets his rivals’ supporters, but also separates him from the political operatives that control how policy is pursued (or not) these days. Most interesting about him is how no one has any political ammunition to hurt his run. No one believes the traditional political operatives when they try to fault him (which separates him further from ordinary politicos), the press only helps him by trying to point out his flaws which are in the end exactly why people like him. That is because he says, not what people want to hear (as politicos advise politicians to do), but what people want to say and feel like they dare not for PC reasons. In short, he is nearly invulnerable politically, and probably will try to do what he said. More than that, he will have a better chance of succeeding because he knows how to make deals (much like you said you want) that will accomplish his own goals and not cave to the desires of destructive political forces. He may even be able to appease his opposition (hard-nosed conservatives, appeasers, and the liberal-minded) with attractive deal-making and public support. I also suspect he doesn’t need this job – it’s surely a pay cut for him, and not a particularly large boost in power or prestige. If that is so, he has no reason to do anything aside from what he said (unless he’s a total scoundrel).

    He has supporters in both parties, all walks of life, and all demographics. I’m not certain yet, but I suspect he’s going to win big. I don’t even know if this is good yet, but I am waiting with anticipation with many others to find out what will happen next. Maybe I helped with this – I hope so. Peace, Graham.

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  3. I really, really hope some of the 2nd tier Republican candidates will drop out of the race. The only hope for beating Trump is to consolidate some of the primary votes behind one, maybe two candidates (i.e Cruz and Rubio). If the Kasich supporters become Rubio supporters and the Carson supporters become Cruz supporters, then we’ve actually got a race. Until that happens, we’re walking the Via Trumpera. I am honestly afraid of what that will entail. You should write a post pleading with the remaining Republican bench to follow the example of Bush and get out of the way so that someone with a shot can actually beat Trump.

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    1. Ken, I think Carson leaves after next Tuesday. I like Kasich a lot, but agree, it’s time for him to leave too (although I bet he hangs on until the Ohio primary).

      Absolutely concur on an alternative to Trump. Who do you prefer, Cruz or Rubio?

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      1. I genuinely like Rubio. I think he’s legitimately a great candidate. Cruz, I don’t really like, but he doesn’t scare me the way Trump does. Trump is a loose canon, he’s terribly deceptive, he’s flip-flopped a million times, and I think his rhetoric is dangerous. The only reason I would vote for Cruz is because he’s better than Trump and has a legitimate chance of beating Trump. He wouldn’t be my first choice, but at least he seems like a reasonable, thoughtful person.

        The only thing positive I can say about Donald Trump, is that when it comes to tearing down the prevailing assumptions about what is and is not politically correct, you kind of need someone like Trump who is just completely bombastic and offensive. I think he would be really effective as a radio shock jockey, where he wasn’t really accountable for the things that he said. He would be misunderstood (often intentionally) and accused of all kinds of inaccurate things, but he would have his own little “screw the establishment” kind of following. In that capacity, he could help our public discourse by attacking our tendency to cry over every micro-aggression and perceived harm. I think that would be a great role for him, but I just don’t want to make that man our next president.

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  4. American politics has a history of volatility and sadly….corruption in all political parties. The present administration, as in past administrations and future ones, will have corruption, influence peddling, lobby groups of all types, misconduct, ineptness, financial mismanagement. We have the continuing struggle between liberals and conservatives, struggles over ideological direction, discontent on both sides. We live in a nation in spiritual crisis, moral lapse, ethical confusion. Our problems with drugs are intense and debilitating. Reality TV shows how stupid and childish a technologically advanced country can often be. We are consumed with IPhones and tech devices which have shortened our attention spans to sound bytes, slogans, and puerile amusements. My one single vote, like a pebble among a pile of river rocks, may not mean much, however, it is my only vote….and it should reflect thoughtful consideration. Since I am pro-life, my vote can never ever go to any candidate who has no regard for the life of the unborn. If I fail to vote my conscience, and do not seek out all relevant information about each candidate….then I have failed to be a good citizen and became a knee jerk and careless member of the uninformed reflexive class which prefers emotion to any shred of wisdom. Lastly, We should, as Christians, vote with our conscience and our faith in mind before we cast our ballot, a ballot which shows by our action what we believe.

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  5. I always think the issue is that you look to think that “conservative” politics and economics (despite the radicalism of current “market” economics which follows a libertarian bend and descends from Reaganomics moreso than any classical notion) is the only possible companion to faith and that “liberalism” in politics and economics must be antithetical. Such has never been the case with the Church and not even with 20th century Christianity. Legality is morality. A gay couple are not married because the state’s law says they are. That the Church has decided that marriages outside the faith and proper doctrine are good, merely because they are one man and one woman, and may be legitimate if performed by any guru, JoP, ship’s captain, or out of deference to a clergy of a false faith, is to our shame. Rabbis will tell you that a child’s life is not equal to the mother’s until the head or most of the body has been birthed. But we would have a law proscribing their religious liberty because only ours counts? What a waste of time! Crime is not sin, legality is not morality and the concern of Christians is sin. An unborn child is in the hands of a merciful god. We should be sure that the mother is, as well. If she conceives of abortion as something right and possible, she sins. If only the law and fear of prison deters her, the Church has accomplished nothing.

    Some thoughts from CS Lewis:

    “All the same, the New Testament, without going into details, gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian society would be like. Perhaps it gives us more than we can take. It tells us that there are to be no passengers or parasites: if man does not work, he ought not to eat. Every one is to work with his own hands, and what is more, every one’s work is to produce something good: there will be no manufacture of silly luxuries and then of sillier advertisements to persuade us to buy them. And there is to be no “swank” or “side,” no putting on airs. To that extent a Christian society would be what we now call Leftist. On the other hand, it is always insisting on obedience-obedience (and outward marks of respect) from all of us to properly appointed magistrates, from children to parents, and (I am afraid this is going to be very unpopular) from wives to husbands. Thirdly, it is to be a cheerful society: full of singing and rejoicing, and regarding worry or anxiety as wrong. Courtesy is one of the Christian virtues; and the New Testament hates what it calls “busybodies.

    If there were such a society in existence and you or I visited it, I think we should come away with a curious impression. We should feel that its economic life was very socialistic and, in that sense, “advanced,” but that its family life and its code of manners were rather old-fashioned-perhaps even ceremonious and aristocratic. Each of us would like some bits of it, but I am afraid very few of us would like the whole thing. That is just what one would expect if Christianity is the total plan for the human machine. We have all departed from that total plan in different ways, and each of us wants to make out that his own modification of the original plan is the plan itself. You will find this again and again about anything that is really Christian: every one is attracted by bits of it and wants to pick out those bits and leave the rest. That is why we do not get much further: and that is why people who are fighting for quite opposite things can both say they are fighting for Christianity.

    Now another point. There is one bit of advice given to us by the ancient heathen Greeks, and by the Jews in the Old Testament, and by the great Christian teachers of the Middle Ages, which the modern economic system has completely disobeyed. All these people told us not to lend money at interest: and lending money at interest-what we call investment-is the basis of our whole system.”

    “What a pity you haven’t got our National Health system in America.”

    “What you have gone through begins to reconcile me to our Welfare State of which I have said so many hard things. “National Health Service” with free treatment for all has its drawbacks—one being that Doctors are incessantly pestered by people who have nothing wrong with them. But it is better than leaving people to sink or swim on their own resources.”

    “I am sorry to hear of the acute pain and the various other troubles. It makes me unsay all I have ever said against our English “Welfare State”, which at least provides free medical treatment for all.”

    Republicans are not all orthodox Christians (Ted Cruz is proof of that unless sacramentarians are no longer heterodox/ heretical.) Democrats are not all atheists (Hilary Clinton is, as I recall, a Methodist – no less orthodox, by our, measure than Ted Cruz.) Nations and parties are never Christian, only individuals. Want to argue the practical merits of certain stances, go ahead. But the “American Way” or our traditions or preconceptions of economics and politics do not have the absolute moral dimensions such that one can exclude PNHP and Medicare for All as unchristian possibilities or even make a moral case for letting people opt out of providing medical care while forcing others to disregard their religious liberties out of respect for a uniquely Christian stance on abortion.

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    1. Excellent quote from C.S. Lewis!

      Absolutely concur that Republicans are not all orthodox Christians and that Democrats are not all atheist. Honestly, it matters little to me about a politician’s faith.

      You hit the nail on the head when you not that our American preconceptions about economics and politics are not shared by other nations. For me, this is a point of great frustration.

      As an aside, there are some interesting conversations going on among some Roman Catholics about the appeal of Bernie Sanders. With the exception of his abortion stance, he is appealing to many “conservative” Catholics.

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      1. Of course! Between NPR stirring that up and my wife being Roman Catholic and both of us having been long-time fans of Sanders, it definitely got noticed. I’ve always had a soft spot for the “seamless garment” approach to human life and how that colors social issues. Some of that goes to my time as a teen socializing with the Franciscans across the street from my high school (one reason why I also take my anti-Roman stances so seriously, as well.)

        People overlook the natural law teachings and the effect that single-kingdom theology and the ensuing social teaching has on mainstream Catholics. Throw in a little guilt and…

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      2. Graham, if it matters so little about a politician’s faith, then it matters little if you are supporting a scoundrel? Indeed, therein is the reason many Christians so separate their professed Faith from their political vote that a man who would work to increase funding for abortions would receive more votes than a pro-life politician like Santorum. Christians are supposed to influence the culture with the teachings of their Lord and Savior, and the sanctity of life is very significant. To merely walk away and turn one’s back on one’s faith and convictions in the name of political expediency shows a concern more for the world or self interest than for conscience. I personally do not concern myself with winning or losing an election. God is still the one we will answer to not only for our sins, but for our actions in regard to propping up evil men when it was within our power to cast our own vote for another candidate. That is my opinion. No doubt, you and others disagree.

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  6. John, I’m not saying to walk away from your faith, I’m saying one’s faith is not (necessarily) indicative of how one will act as a politician. As HLewis noted above, Hillary is a lifelong Methodist. She is a Christian. Yet I’m pretty sure most conservatives and most LCMSers would consider her politics horrific.

    Yes, Christians are to be examples of Christ, but how that plays out in the political realm is very unclear. Even on abortion, the issue is not as clear-cut as many Christians profess. Should it be illegal in every instance? Should there be a 24-hour waiting period? Should fathers have a say? Should minors be required to have parental consent? To that end, is there a Christian answer to these questions? Is it impossible for a politician to be a Christian and not support the overturning of Roe v. Wade? Remember, Griswold v. Connecticut established the right to privacy before Roe…

    You are spot on to say that elections matter little in the God’s plan.

    One final question, who determines what politicians are evil? Is Sanders evil because he supports abortion rights? Conversely, is Santorum not evil even though he supports economic policies that I think are hardly reflective of a Christian ethos?

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  7. Graham, since the Bible clearly says we would know believers (I.e. Christians) by their fruits, we can surmise that a politician who claims to be a Christian but whose actions speak differently is likely not. However, we cannot judge the heart and cannot know if eventually such a politician might be converted. But the evident fruit, noted in decisions and values can indicate whether a profession is real or bogus. Wisdom would tell us, in the case of such politicians, that we should therefore cast our lone votes of support and encouragement to more worthy candidates.
    As for abortion, it is not nearly as vague as you suggest. It is as clear cut as the fingers on your hand which you used to type your comments today. Those fingers were once very tiny, and they were formed when you were about 7-8 weeks in the womb. They did not form by accident, but on the command of your Heavenly Father. The unborn, made in God’s image, are destroyed in 93 percent of all abortions entirely for the convenience of the mother, with the remaining 7 percent aborted for health reasons, incest, or rape. In our nation, as well as in China, Russia, and other “civilized” Western nations, abortions are primarily done because a child is unwanted, inconvenient and therefore expediently worthy of death. If one wishes to build an argument for supporting abortion, one need to ask Hillary Clinton and her party, which agrees with Obama and many others that even a late term abortion is acceptable. Oh, how savage and with such ruthless abandon we so easily condemn unborn infants to death…,wherein the womb, a place of refuge, becomes a killing ground and its tomb. Tears are shed for the dying rainforest, the declining numbers of polar bears, but for the unborn child…..a mere political issue to some.
    Lastly, one must decide if being a member of this earthly kingdom is more important than the kingdom to which you are called as a Christian. One can be in the world, but still remember it is God whom we serve and our faith must guide even our politics.

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