Party Foul

As I mentioned in my last post, I will never vote for Donald Trump for president. I will never vote for Donald Trump for city councilman nor will I vote for him for dog-catcher, for that matter. But I realize my post about Ben Carson’s endorsement with my conclusion about never voting for Trump left some readers with a few questions.

So I’d like to address those two questions. The first: Why will you never vote for Donald Trump? And the second: If it comes down to Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton, what will you do?

The first question is easy.

The Case Against Trump

It is not because of his multiple affairs and divorces, or the way he brags about his dealings with women, or the way he objectifies women, or the way he compares women he doesn’t like to animals. It’s also not because of the way he incentivizes violence at his rallies, or the way he is threatening riots at the Republican convention if he doesn’t emerge as the nominee. And it’s not because he tried to evict a woman from her house so he could build a parking lot for his since-bankrupt casino. It’s not even because of his vulgar and pompous late-night Twitter tirades against any and all who dare question him.

I don’t mean to diminish the weight of these things. These things make Donald Trump a nasty human being. These are the kinds of things that disqualify a person from dating my daughters, as Max Lucado eloquently put it. And I think the character of a person matters when we’re considering electing that person to public office. The writer of Proverbs noted, “When good people run things, everyone is glad, but when the ruler is bad, everyone groans.” And about three thousand years later Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Wise and good men are in my opinion, the strength of the state; more so than riches or arms.” And in his farewell address, George Washington said, “It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”

Granted our country has a rich history of electing nasty human beings as presidents. From Andrew Jackson to Woodrow Wilson, and Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton, we’ve had a solid roster of unsavory characters leading the charge for our nation. We even revere Jackson by putting him on our twenty-dollar bill—despite that blemish on his legacy known as the Trail of Tears. And there are apparently strategists who believe Clinton helps his wife by supporting her on the campaign trail—despite his reputation as a sexual predator.

To be clear, I don’t think we need to elect a pastor or priest to be our president. And we know Jesus isn’t running for office this year. So we’re limited to only electing humans, which means we have to accept some level of moral failure. As the apostle Paul said in his letter to the Romans, we have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory. At the foot of the cross, I’m equal to Donald Trump. In terms of my need of God’s grace, I’m with Donald Trump, along with Bill Clinton and Andrew Jackson.

But we’re at a time when voters are willing to look the other way in regard to a person’s character, because of a perception that that candidate can “get things done.” I don’t fall into that category, but because there are many people who do, it’s necessary to make the case against a Trump presidency aside from all of that.

With that in mind, my decision not to vote for Donald Trump (no matter what) is because of his—drumroll, please—policies. Or lack thereof.

I know. Kind of anticlimactic, huh? That’s definitely not exciting or sexy.

But since we have been blessed to inherit this democratic republic, it seems we should look to elect people who represent the values we believe will further the best interests of our country. We should look at their policies, or their proposed policies, rather than their personalities.

We should figure out what each person wants to do as president, rather than examine who we would like to have a beer with.

We should look for the policies which will give us the best chance of creating our preferred future, rather than the ones which play to our fears and encourage us to hunker down and shut ourselves off from the world.

Here’s the biggest problem with Donald Trump: In my assessment of his policies, I can’t figure out what he actually wants to do. Like I mentioned, I agree with Dr. Carson’s observation that there are “two Trumps.”

It’s nice that he has begun posting policy proposals on his website, but he is known for contradicting his own policies in interviews and debates—and we still don’t know what he says about his policies behind closed doors. We do know he has a strong admiration for himself and his poll numbers. But we don’t know what his core values are, or which policies he will choose to stick with if elected. Is his strongest value pleasing people, such as the editors at the New York Times? Or is he willing to stick with what he believes is right, despite ebbs and flows in public opinion?

I don’t know the answer to that. No one does. If you are planning to vote for Donald Trump and you think you know what he is going to do, just remember, even he doesn’t claim to know what he is going to do—he wants to leave room to negotiate and make deals on seemingly everything.

With that said, it would be difficult to clearly define the positive policies of a Trump presidency. But there are some definite negatives, and some clear reasons I have come to the conclusion I will never vote for Donald Trump. Here are a few:

Planned Parenthood

When Donald Trump praised the “wonderful things” Planned Parenthood does—in a Republican primary debate—I wondered, what will he say in the general election when he is campaigning against the first presidential candidate to earn Planned Parenthood’s endorsement? I also wondered, when referring to Adolf Hitler, why do so many people forget to mention the Autobahn or his plans for a really cool future city? Why are they so hung up on the one or two bad things he did? I wonder what percentage of Hitler’s activities were rounding up and killing Jews as opposed to all the really wonderful things he did?

Here’s the bottom line: For me, taxpayer funding of abortion is absolutely a non-negotiable. There is no “deal” to be made in that regard. A candidate whose moral clarity wavers on the issue of taking my money and giving it to the organization that murders the most babies in the United States is not a candidate I will ever consider voting for. Ever.

Supreme Court Nominees

Our country suffered a devastating loss when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February. He was perhaps the most eloquent and convincing defender of the Constitution and individual liberty we have ever had on the Supreme Court. If there is any hint of a bright side to his death, it is that this wake-up call happened during this election. His passing serves as a reminder that the presidency is only four years, but the legacy of each president lives on for decades through the lifetime appointments of justices.

On this Donald Trump waivers again. His first inclination was to announce that his sister, a judicial activist and progressive statist, would make a phenomenal Supreme Court Justice. On the contrary, I think she would be a horrible replacement. He later retracted his statement (as he often does), saying that he couldn’t nominate her because it may be seen as nepotism. In terms of determining Trump’s rationale for appointing judges, nepotism is a non sequitur. As in, yeah, that’s great—don’t nominate your sister because of favoritism. But what about the fact that her values are completely different than the guy you’d be replacing?

No, thank you. We can’t get this wrong. The future of religious liberty in this country, along with the lives of a multitude of unborn children, hang in the balance, largely because so many important votes come down to 5–4. If that one vote swings the other way because we like the guy who is good at “telling it like it is”, we are literally bringing judgment upon ourselves.

Economics

Imagine with me that you are really good at making sneakers, and I am really good at making potato chips. I can make 35 bags of potato chips in one hour, and you can make four pairs of sneakers per hour. Since you’re so good at making sneakers, you should focus on that, and not spend your time making potato chips. And since I can’t make more than four pairs of sneakers in an hour, I’ll focus my time and energy on making potato chips, and we’ll trade with each other. I’ll give you some of my potato chips in exchange for some of your sneakers. Win-win, right?

Play that out a bit more. Say you recruit your neighborhood to help you make sneakers, so you can make a lot more of them. I do the same thing. And now our neighborhoods can buy and sell our products with each other, and also with neighborhoods all around us, so that we are able to make the things we specialize in, and trade for things like cars and toothbrushes and pencils.

That’s a very rudimentary way of explaining a basic economic concept called comparative advantage. This concept based on free trade is at the heart of productive, flourishing societies. It should come as no surprise then that it is also part of the economic foundation of our own society.

What comes as a surprise is a man who is seen as having great wealth because of his success in business who seems to have little to no understanding of basic economic concepts, such as these. And yet, Donald Trump wants to economically wall off the United States from the rest of the world by imposing tariffs on China and Mexico as punishment for their success in trade, and for their illegal immigrants. But as any economic novice (like myself) understands, charging a tax on imports only costs us more. To put it into real life terms, if we have to pay more for iPhone parts made in China, the price of our iPhones could go from $650 to $950, based on Trump’s 45% tariff. That’s just one product. Look no further than the “made in” tags on all your stuff—everything from T-shirts to computers—to discover how many times that could play out.

The result of Trump’s absurd retaliatory tariff can’t just be measured in the cost of things we buy. The Chinese would almost certainly impose their own tariff on any goods we sell to them, thus hurting our companies overseas. They may pass the cost of lost business onto consumers here at home, or perhaps cut back workforces in order to meet the lower demand. Higher prices, and less jobs—but we’re going to make China (and their 100 million people living on less than $1 a day) pay. Just one way Donald Trump plans to make America great again.

These are the top three on my list of reasons not to vote for Donald Trump. I would also add his fascistic desires to close off part of the internet and to force companies to make products in the United States to the list.

To wrap up, there may be some positive things about Donald Trump as a political candidate. But it’s difficult to discern which is the real Donald Trump. Is he in favor of a high border fence, or is that just rhetorical framing for negotiations? Is he “very, very pro-choice,” or is he so pro-life he thinks we should punish women who have abortions? It would be difficult to objectively define his position on most of the issues. But there are enough strong reasons for me not to vote for Donald Trump.

That’s a high enough word count for one post (or seven). I’ll answer the second question, If the presidential election is Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton, what will you do? next week. (UPDATE: Read part two now.) Thanks for reading.

Day of Deliverance

There is a lot of turmoil in the United States and around the world today. Stateside politics and Supreme Court decisions have us divided as a nation. People in countries all over Europe, Africa, Asia and South America are rising up in revolt, leading to unrest all over the globe.

But despite our troubles and the tumult all around us, today remains a dichotomous day of solemn reflection, and of celebration. I think our second President, John Adams, said it best:

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not. (The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784, Harvard University Press, 1975, 142).

Americans have come a long way in our 237 years together. We have had turmoil and trouble throughout our history. But I believe it’s the pursuit and protection of freedom, and the “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” which have allowed this fledgling nation to rise to such prosperity that the entire world benefits from its existence.

Today let’s eat a burger, watch some fireworks, and celebrate. Let’s also pause to give thanks for our freedom—given by God, enshrined in our founding documents, and protected by the men and women of our military. We are truly blessed.

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!


Enjoy and celebrate this day off of work. It’s a great day for friends and family, grilling, beer, great movies, and fireworks at night. I love that stuff, and believe times of joy and celebration are much needed in a culture where we work more and more and seem to spend less and less time with the people who matter most.

While celebrating this year, I think we should take some time to remember what this day is all about. The day we often refer to as the “Fourth of July” has a lot more significance when it goes by the name which gave it its reason for existence: Independence Day.

Just as Christmas is celebrated with presents, but we remember its meaning by reading the story of Jesus’ birth, this day ought to be remembered for its true meaning.

On this day, 236 years ago, representatives from this continent declared that they knew where our rights come from. They declared that since we were all created by God, and since we are all equal in His eyes, and since our fundamental rights come from Him, we ought not let men take our rights from us. If God desires us to be free, why should we give our freedoms to a tyrant king who, in the eyes of our Creator, is equal to every other human being?

After establishing the Source of our Rights and the role of Government, they went on to list the crimes committed by the King of Great Britain against the people of these young States. These “injuries and usurpations” were recorded and made known not only to the people of both continents at that time, but they are now recorded in history, and every generation since can read for themselves exactly the kinds of encroachments this tyrant made. This was important for them to do, as now no one can call into question the motives of a people who reclaimed their Freedom.

Finally, as they appealed to the “Supreme Judge of the world” for the integrity of their intentions, they declared their freedom and absolved their loyalty to the Crown. Then they declared the new subject of their allegiance. In taking on the British empire and risking everything they had to go to war with the best Navy in the world, they said to each other and the universe:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Wow. Everything they had. They knew they could lose it all. Yet they firmly trusted God for protection and they pledged everything to each other for the sake of the greatest cause their lives would ever know.

That’s worth celebrating. And it’s worth remembering.

To help us all remember what this day is about, even as we celebrate, I’ve created an Independence Day playlist. It has songs about freedom, rebelling against oppression, and just some classic American songs. It’s no substitute for reading the Declaration again this year, but it’s another way to remind us today. You can Subscribe to it, share it, or take it with you to play at parties. While you’re relaxing with friends and family, remember where we came from. Remember why we are so free. Remember where our rights come from and how blessed we are to live in a land where those rights are protected.

Happy Independence Day!

Filled with Hope


Yesterday, I explained why I’m inspired and hopeful after the Supreme Court’s monumental ruling on Obamacare. I believe we’re only in Act Two in a three-part story and that We the People get to decide the ending.

Read Part 1 for my prediction of how Act Three of this story will play out.

Here’s how we can turn the story’s Act Three into reality:

  • Make sure you, your friends and family are registered to vote. Then go vote on November 6 for the candidates who understand where our rights come from and what the role of government ought to be, and who have vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare.
  • Pray for our country. God is not neutral with regards to the freedom or oppression of the people He created. God gives us freedom—it is man who takes it away. When God appeared to the King of Israel, He said, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” We have to pray for our country and its leaders, and we have to start with ourselves. If we want leaders who understand limited spending, we have to limit our own spending and debt in our households. If we want leaders who are honest and lead with integrity, we have to tell the truth in our own lives and be a people of integrity. True change must start with us.
  • Finally, we need to inform ourselves and teach our children. We are blessed to live in the freest, most prosperous nation in the history of human civilization. Did we just end up that way? Or is there a reason? If it’s not by accident, what are the principles that led to our nation’s success in such a short existence? Are we still great or have we lost our way? Is there a way back?

    To answer these questions and more, I highly recommend a great book by a constitutional scholar who studied law during the Great Depression and grew up during some of the toughest times our nation has ever faced. He saw the past greatness and achievement of our young country and wanted to know how, after 5,000 years of human civilization, this newborn infant of a nation came to create so much opportunity and freedom and prosperity for people around the world. He captured what he learned in his book, The Five Thousand Year Leap. I suggest you read it, reread our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and teach your children these concepts in age-appropriate ways.

I believe that if we commit ourselves to following these steps, we will write a happy ending to our story. But that’s not the end either. Repealing and replacing this one bill is only the beginning. We have a long road to getting back to what once made a philosopher who visited our country say, “America is great because she is good.” In fact, if we overturn this massive power-grab only to go on living our lives as if nothing ever happened, I would submit that the effort is meaningless. If we truly want to save our country and preserve its blessing for future generations, we need to continually follow the steps above.

I believe it’s worth the effort. And I believe we can do it. That is why I’m inspired and filled with hope.