Election 2020: Mea Culpa and Taking out the Trash

After every presidential election since the first one in which I got to vote, I have posted some thoughts on this blog or in various other places on the ‘net. You can read the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 posts on this site; the 2000 post and a longer 2004 post have apparently been lost to the mists of time. This is my 2020 wrap-up.


As has become my tradition, I’m popping back on here to write up a few thoughts on the election. Only, this year, it’s going to be very different.

I won’t be talking about how I voted. I won’t be talking about how I feel about the outcome, except to say that, as I write this, it is clear beyond any reasonable doubt that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been elected to the offices of President and Vice President, respectively. I have yet to see or hear of any shred of anything resembling evidence to the contrary, despite the many wild claims, slanderous allegations, and conspiracy theories being thrown about. Counting votes cast before an election ends is not “stealing” anything or “cheating,” even if some of the counting happens after the voting stops (as it literally always does). A shift, during the counting, in the balance of votes between a candidate who discouraged early voting and one who encouraged it is evidence of nothing except that actions have consequences; it hardly indicates fraud or other misbehavior.

I also won’t be talking about how I feel about the winning ticket or their policies or about how I feel about the losing ticket of Donald Trump and Mike Pence or their policies. If you know me offline, you may already know my thoughts on those topics, but I’m not going to post them publicly for many reasons.

What I do want to talk about, briefly, is the incredible division in the United States right now. This can’t continue, because a country can’t continue when it has been this destabilized, unless it reverses course quickly and enthusiastically. It has been incredibly hard to watch the rise of completely irrational conspiracy theories, slander of various kinds, and extremism. That’s not to mention the many false, theologically unsound, and completely unreasoned statements I’ve seen along the lines of, “You can’t be a Christian and vote for Trump,” “You can’t be a Christian and not vote for Trump,” “You can’t be a Christian and vote for Biden,” or, “You can’t be a Christian and not vote for Biden.” You’re probably sick of all of this, too—at least, I hope you are—so I’m not going to rehash everything so many good thinkers and writers have said about how divided we are, how gross many of the divisions are, how we got here, or how to make it better, if that’s even possible.

I am going to say this: I’m sorry for my role in getting us here. I have tried, especially over the last decade, to maintain a very even, respectful, fair, and civil tone on here. To my shame, that was not always true. I wrote some very divisive, unkind, poorly supported things in some earlier years, especially in my 20s, even as I prided myself on steering clear of the worst conspiracy theories and forms of misinformation. But my hands were not clean. Not even close.

Part of the problem is that I listened to some of the wrong people to get my facts. Especially in my early 20s, I took some people seriously who did not deserve then—and, frankly, deserve even less in 2020—to be taken seriously. I might tell myself, “This blogger puts out a lot of great stuff and is a great aggregator of news, even if some of her views are over the top,” or, “These people have a professional reputation outside of politics to uphold, so their report of these [alleged] facts is surely at least basically honest.” That, alas, is not a very good way to think about the internet, talk radio, television, or life in general.

Over time, especially over the last couple of years, I have removed a large number of old posts from this site. Most of them were political in nature. In many cases, they no longer represent my views on this or that topic or simply stated my views in a way I would not stand by today. Many dated from the early 2000s, when this blog (like many others) served much the same role Twitter or Instagram might now: the post might be no more than a link or image, and many of those links or images went offline long ago. In some cases, I don’t even know what the post was about or what the link pointed to.

In short, in twenty years, this blog accumulated a lot of clutter and debris that has become either useless or harmful, with no value even for archival purposes. I don’t want to leave even a link up in some cases because I do not want to drive even one more visitor to certain sites or one more listener to certain voices. So, I’ve taken down a lot of junk and cleaned up my blog, and I have revised a few posts here and there to correct inaccurate statements or remove broken links or links to unreliable information. That process is by no means done; I’m still taking out the trash as I find it.

All that said, I do owe some people apologies. Most notably, I think I owe an apology to former Secretary of State John Kerry. While I never said anything about him that I knew to be false, I disseminated some links and statements in connection with the 2004 election that I no longer believe were accurate or fair. And I apologize to everyone for the role I have played over the years in boosting bad ideas and dishonest actors and in thus helping to bring about some of the divisions we see in the United States today. I am sorry. I am working—on here and on my social media accounts—to consistently, honestly, carefully disseminate only the truth and fair analysis. As a Christian, I am absolutely committed to truth, love for my neighbor, and grace, and that extends to how I conduct myself online. Alas, living well, online or off, is a learning process, and I haven’t always gotten it right. I am sorry.

Back to this election: good grief. I can’t discuss here the entire history of the breakdown in our society that has led to alternate realities in which some people can be absolutely certain of an observable, verifiable, fact, and others absolutely certain of the opposite “fact.” But I do know that each presidential election from 2000 to the present has featured more and more conspiracy theories, slander, character assassination, and general dishonesty. Now would be a good time, if it’s not too late, for us all to commit to dealing honestly and fairly with those who do not see things the way we do. If we can’t at least reestablish a shared understanding of reality—a more or less shared ontology and epistemology—things look bleak indeed. And if we are to have any hope of that, we must stop lying about each other, declaring people are heretics (or worse) for their political opinions, and choosing to believe the worst about each other.

I don’t put my trust in earthly leaders. (See Psalm 146:3-4.) And I cannot name a single politician or other leader who speaks perfectly for me on every issue or even every issue I consider important. I will no doubt have many disagreements with everyone elected or reelected to any public office this week, as with everyone who has gone before them. But I do commit to—and hope we can all commit to—trying to treat them and everyone else with civility, charity, and respect, no matter how much I may dislike certain opinions.

Here’s hoping the next four years represent a period of healing and repair from the hatred and divisions accumulated over the last four.


Image by Bianca Mentil from Pixabay

Post-Mortem, Episode III

After every presidential election since the first one in which I got to vote, I have posted some thoughts on this blog or in various other places on the ‘net. You can read the 2004, 2008, and 2012 posts on this site; the 2000 post and a longer 2004 post have apparently been lost to the mists of time. This is my 2016 wrap-up.


Like most of the country, I was stunned by the candidates’ reversals of fortune over the course of the evening. Like many others, I sat and watched the live forecast by the New York Times update, amazed as the needles on the win-probability, popular-vote, and electoral-college gauges ticked slowly, inexorably to the right. And like many others, I am now exhausted physically from a late night and exhausted emotionally from witnessing what will surely be remembered as one of the most amazing political events in American history.

Beyond that, though? I really don’t have much to say. I’m not happy about many of the results that we saw last night, but it has been almost a year since I had much hope of that. My musings won’t add much to anyone’s ability to process what has happened.

So, instead of waxing on, I’ll point everyone to some essential reading material as we all try to move forward, to comprehend what just happened, and to continue to function as a people. Some of it addresses Christians, some the broader “right,” and some attempts to speak to everybody. Regardless of a particular piece’s target audience, if you want to understand what is motivating millions of Americans, including those you don’t know and don’t see everyday, I’d suggest reading everything below.

Required reading:

Please pray for America and all her leaders. They need it.

Votes and Prayers

I voted today, on the first day of early voting in Texas. Now, don’t worry; I’m not going to tell you in this post how I think you should vote. (I literally am not allowed to endorse candidates for any office because of my job.) I’m also not going to tell you how not to vote. Instead, I’m going to tell a little story. Actually, I’m going to preach a little sermon to myself. And I’m asking you to read it, so you can preach it back to me when I need it.

Continue reading “Votes and Prayers”

Election 2016: Why I Cannot Vote for Trump

I have mostly kept quiet this year about the election, for a variety of reasons. For those reasons and other reasons, this may well be my only election-related post during this presidential election. But, I have something to say and want to get it on the record now, before Super Tuesday and the Texas primary. So, here goes.

This year is likely to result in the most distressing lineup of general-election candidates to be President of the United States that we have seen during my lifetime. It seems highly likely that, come November, we will be asked to choose between two or more candidates who, apparently, either do not understand or do not take seriously the office of President and its duties and limitations as set out in the Constitution.

As Americans—regardless of where we fall on (or off) of the left-right spectrum—we should expect and demand that a President, or even a candidate for President, do certain things and uphold certain values. After all,

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, [the President] shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—”I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

This is not a mere formality or afterthought. It’s a formal, explicit requirement in the Constitution, Article II, Section 1, Clause 8. In other words, it’s important.

And, as you know, the Constitution of the United States includes, among many other things, a Bill of Rights, consisting of the first ten Amendments to the Constitution. These Amendments protect and codify—but do not create—certain fundamental human rights, which any American government and any American President must—legally must and morally must—respect. These include the free choice and exercise of religion; freedom of speech; freedom of the press; freedom “peaceably to assemble;” freedom to petition the government to redress grievances; “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms;” security against unreasonable searches, seizures, and arrests; the right to a jury trial; the right not to testify when doing so would incriminate oneself; and many others.

In electing a President, only two things are of first importance to me (or should should be to anyone else): (1) God’s claim on my conscience and (2) the Constitution. For this reason, I look for candidates who respect free speech and freedom of religion, who are not afraid of a free citizenry, and who will, above all else, respect the sanctity and dignity of all human life, from the weakest and smallest to the strongest and more powerful among us. I certainly look for conservatives and people of faith, but even those criteria are secondary to respect for human life and the rule of law. I cannot and will not vote for any candidate who does not respect humanity or human liberty or whose personal history and moral character reveal that any such respect may be no more than a political and rhetorical device.

To put it simply: a candidate for President must respect human life, human dignity, the Constitution, and the rule of law as opposed to the rule of men. All else is secondary.

The most notable development in this election cycle is the meteoric rise of Donald Trump as a contender for the Republican nomination. Trump, however, has long been a liberal supporter of Democratic candidates, not a conservative. He has long had no regard for the lives of the unborn or the rights of individuals to enjoy their property if it interferes with his plans (whether here or abroad). His supposed conversion to a conservative mindset that respects human life and dignity is very recent and poorly explained. His defense of critical liberties protected by the First and Second Amendments is spotty, at best. He flaunts his misogynyclaims not to know enough about the Ku Klux Klan to disavow an endorsement from former KKK grand wizard David Duke, and engages in daily bullying and name-calling on the internet. (I’m simply linking to his entire Twitter feed because it contains plenty of examples.) In short, he consistently disrespects those he would lead, even after his purported conversion to conservatism, and he falls far short of being the kind of person I could vote for to be President.

Regardless of how Trump stacks up compared to any other candidate he might hypothetically face in November, he doesn’t measure up and has not demonstrated to me that he possesses the personal qualities, convictions, or moral compass necessary to do the job. So, if Trump is the Republican nominee, conservatives will not be tasked with choosing the “lesser of two evils” or the least ill-suited candidate. We will face a choice between one form of unqualified, irresponsible, unconstitutional governance and another. As a Christian, an American, a lawyer, and a citizen of this great nation, I cannot vote for anyone who lacks respect for human dignity or the law of the land simply because some opponent of his seems to share the same failings.

As any reader of this site over the 17 years I have run it will know, I am a conservative, in the sense that Burke, Kirk, and Reagan (among many others) were conservative. That does not mean I am a Republican. In fact, although I would have called myself a Republican in the past, I don’t consider myself one anymore. It’s one of those “I didn’t leave the party; the party left me” situations. I, like so many other people, am incredibly frustrated by both major parties, “politics as usual,” and the moral malleability of many career politicians. So while Republicans may often get my vote, they are not entitled to it simply because of the initial after their names. They, like anyone else, have to earn it on the merits of their convictions and their actions.

I will vote in the Texas primary elections tomorrow, and I will vote according to my conscience. When I vote in November, I will vote the same way, guided by the same conscience and the same principles. Therefore, I will not vote for Donald Trump tomorrow. He fails on the most basic criteria: respect for human life and dignity, and respect for the Constitution.

And if common sense fails and Trump is the Republican nominee, I will not vote for him in November, either. My conscience will not allow it. I would love to see a constitutionalist President who is conservative, reverent, humble, good, fair, and courageous. Simply electing a Republican because he obtained the Republican nomination, however, does not guarantee any of those things.

If your state has not yet held its primary or caucus, I hope you will take seriously your civic responsibility to vote. I hope that you will vote, and that you will vote according to your conscience. And I hope that, when you do so but before you cast your ballot, you ask yourself: “Does this person respect human life at all ages, in all conditions, and in all times and places, and will this person preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States?”

Please vote for someone who loves life and loves the Constitution. We are all counting on you.

Experience and Reason

The following is Madison’s summary of a truly excellent speech by John Dickenson, a delegate from Delaware to the Constitutional Convention:

Experience must be our only guide. Reason may mislead us. It was not Reason that discovered the singular & admirable mechanism of the English Constitution. It was not Reason that discovered or ever could have discovered the odd & in the eye of those who are governed by reason, the absurd mode of trial by Jury. Accidents probably produced these discoveries, and experience has given a sanction to them. This is then our guide. And has not experience verified the utility of restraining money bills to the immediate representatives of the people. Whence the effect may have proceeded he could not say; whether from the respect with which this privilege inspired the other branches of Govt. to the H. of Commons, or from the turn of thinking it gave to the people at large with regard to their rights, but the effect was visible & could not be doubted-Shall we oppose to this long experience, the short experience of 11 Years which we had ourselves, on this subject. As to disputes, they could not be avoided any way. If both Houses should originate, each would have a different bill to which it would be attached, and for which it would contend. -He observed that all the prejudices of the people would be offended by refusing this exclusive privilege to the H. of Repress. and these prejudices shd. never be disregarded by us when no essential purpose was to be served. When this plan goes forth it will be attacked by the popular leaders. Aristocracy will be the watchword; the Shibboleth among its adversaries. Eight States have inserted in their Constitutions the exclusive right of originating money bills in favor of the popular branch of the Legislature. Most of them however allowed the other branch to amend. This he thought would be proper for us to do.

This is so excellent that I simply had to share it.  You can read Madison’s journal of the debates online in a number of places; this particular speech can be found at Yale’s Avalon Project – Madison Debates – August 13.

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