Tuesday, June 21, 2016

CHRISTIANS MUST BE THE SALT & LIGHT OF THE WORLD!

Weekly Opinion/Editorial

CHRISTIANS! STAY HOOKED UP!
by Steve Fair

     Tuesday is primary election day.  It is important that every citizen, regardless of their political philosophy, exercise their right/responsibility and vote.  One group of voters that have become disengaged in the political process in recent years is the Christian conservatives.  Once a very powerful voting bloc that could virtually guarantee the election of a candidate, the Christian political influence has waned because many have stopped voting for a variety of reasons.  Here are three:
     First, they feel betrayed and conned.  Many of the candidates who campaigned on family values and Christian principles were not doing it out of conviction, but out of convenience.  When they were elected, the revealed their secular philosophy and failed to champion the issues the Christian voters supported.  That betrayal has come home to roost and many Christian voters dropped out of the political process.  They didn’t see their political involvement making a difference and they stopped investing their time in politics.  That is all the more reason for Christians to stay in the process- to expose the phonies and to work to get principled, ethical people elected to office.
     Second, they view the world as secular.  Christians know this world is not their home- they are just passing through.  They are sojourners.  They got involved in the political process because they believed it would further the spread of the Gospel and that didn’t happen.  They pulled back because they believe that most political types are pragmatists that practice situational ethics and don’t believe in absolute truth.     
     Third, they believe the process is rigged.  Many Christians believe the political process in America is not unlike the WWE- that the special interest groups script out winners and losers.  They think only those who will go along to get along can progress in politics and real people don’t get elected and if they do they can’t make a difference. You can’t argue with their logic when you see the fruit of many elected officials.
     So what are Christian voters to do?  Drop out because they are not seeing the needle move?  In Romans 13, Paul admonishes the church at Rome to stay engaged in secular government.  He tells them that a sovereign God rules in the affairs of men and that installs(and brings them down) kings and elected officials into their positions.  Elected officials may think they are in charge, but in fact He is the real power behind the throne.  That should encourage the Christian to know that God is in control of the situation.  Even when secular progressives win and take office, God is in control.  Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that believers are to be salt and light in society.  If that salt and light is removed from a culture, it will only get worse.  Christians must stay engaged.  They must be the salt and light otherwise our culture in America is doomed. 
     Noah Webster said: “When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, “just men who will rule in the fear of God.” The preservation of government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty.”
     Senator James Lankford says, “Washington doesn’t fix America- America fixes Washington.”  His point is that individual citizens working to make a difference in their families, their church, their community will change our culture and our society.  President Garfield said: “Now more than ever the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature.”
     The level of a person’s involvement in the political arena is a personal one.  Whether they choose to become very engaged in campaigns and Party politics or to simply be an informed voter is a decision between them and their God, but no one should drop out.  Men and women in uniform have fought and died for our right to vote as a free people.  Never take that for granted.  Christian- cast your ballot on Tuesday.

Monday, June 13, 2016

CANDIDATE'S WORLDVIEW IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN STANCE ON A SINGLE ISSUE!

Weekly Opinion/Editorial

LESSER OF TWO EVILS
by Steve Fair

     The “lesser of two evils” principle is the principle that when faced with a choice between two unpleasant options, the one least harmful should be chosen.  Situational ethics is the doctrine of flexibility in the application of moral laws according to circumstances.  Both of these principles are rooted in theology.  Some say the two principles are one and the same, but they are not.  The fact is everyone makes a choice between the ‘lesser of two evils” in every election.  All people, regardless of political Party affiliation, theology/philosophy, education, cultural background, or gender have an inherent sin nature, so every candidate on the ballot is evil, in varying degrees.  It is certainly a voter’s right to abstain and not vote in any race, but to use the argument that they can’t bring themselves to vote for the “lesser of two evils,” shows they are ignorant of the true nature of man.
     Situational ethics on the other hand is a different matter.  In practice, situational ethics had been around for centuries, but the theory itself was systematized by Joseph Fletcher in the 1960s.  A Harvard Divinity School professor, Fletcher was a leading academic proponent of the potential benefits of abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, eugenics and cloning.  “We need to educate people to the idea that the quality of life is more important than mere length of life. Our cultural tradition holds that life has absolute value, but that is really not good enough anymore. Sometimes, no life is better," Fletcher said.  Fletcher advocated that all decisions regarding interaction with others should be pragmatic, relative, positive and personal.  Fletcher proposed that loving ends justify any means. Fletcher claimed situational ethics provided a balance between Antinomianism (no law) and legalism (all law).  But Fletcher’s theory is self-contradictory.  If there are no absolutes, except love in every situation, where is God in the equation?  Those who practice situational ethics remove God from the throne as the moral sovereign of the universe, and substitute man in His place.  Situationists have no true north- no absolute truth, except their conscience.  Jeremiah 17 says the heart of man is deceitful- you simply can’t trust your heart.
     As we approach the 2016 elections, you will have opportunity to interact with many candidates for office.  Question them on their stance on issues, but if you want to know what guides how they will govern, ask them their philosophy on these two important theological/philosophical principles- the nature of man and situational ethics.  If a candidate believes man is basically good and all we need to do is change their circumstances, then they will likely do anything to help improve those circumstances, including spending more tax dollars.  If a candidate believes that circumstances dictate how you respond (situational ethics), then they don’t believe in absolute truth, so they will likely change their position on issues depending on the circumstances.  Probing into how a candidate will make decisions will give you a much better idea of what type of elected official they will be.  Be prepared to have candidates give you a blank stare when you ask them ‘philosophical’ questions and not ‘issue’ questions, but be persistent.  Their worldview is more critical than where they stand on a single issue.  Issues change, but their worldview will guide their decision making process.
       A word of caution; many political candidates will give you the right answers, but watch the works of their campaigns.  They don’t always walk the walk.  Candidates, including many professing Christian candidates, have been duped into believing it is acceptable to lie, cheat, steal, gossip, and backbite to win an election.  God doesn’t bless that mess.  That is nothing more than situational ethics.   
      So go out on June 28th AND November 8th and vote for the candidate who has a worldview consistent with yours.  Make no mistake; they will be the lesser of two evils because until Jesus Christ is on the ballot, you will always be voting for the “lesser of two evils.”

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

...as time marches on, the Article Five MAY be the vehicle!

Weekly Opinion Editorial

A BAD IDEA WHOSE TIME MAY HAVE COME!

by Steve Fair



     On Saturday morning, I got a call from former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn.  He told me I had made a mistake in saying the Article Five issue would be voted on by the people in November.  The good Senator was right- the Article Five convention does not require voter approval- just the approval of the state legislature, which it received on April 27th.   

     Senate Joint Resolution, authored by Sen. Rob Standridge, (R-Norman), and Rep. Gary Banz, (R-Midwest City) passed the House 57-33 and the Senate 30-16.  Oklahoma became the seventh state to call for a Convention of the States.  The Joint Resolution calls for a constitutional convention to propose amendments on the following topics: “impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”

     Before an Article Five convention can be called, 34 states must pass resolutions.  Convention of States Action is a 501 (c) (4) nonprofit out of Austin, Texas, that is organizing across the country to lobby legislators to pass such resolutions.  They have made amazing progress in the past couple of years and more state legislatures are expected to take up the Article Five issue in the next couple of years.

     The calling of an Article Five convention has been one of the most divisive issues among Republicans in recent memory.  The primary reason is because there has never been an Article Five convention to amend the constitution. All twenty seven amendments to the constitution have been initiated by Congress.  Because it has never been done, opponents of an Article Five fear a runaway convention where not just term limits and a balanced budget amendment are discussed, but fundamental liberties like the second amendment could  be placed in jeopardy. 

     Supporters of the Article Five are adamant that safeguards will prevent a runaway convention and those who oppose are unnecessarily fearful.  The rules of the convention are a big issue and the Assembly of State Legislatures (ASL) have been working on proposed rules for an Article Five for the past eighteen months.  They meet next week in Philadelphia to wrap up their work on suggested rules for an Article Five.  You can read a draft of the proposed rules on their website- http://articlevcaucus.com.

     Proponents of the Article Five include not just Senator Coburn, but Texas Governor Greg Abbott, columnist George Will, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Wallbuilders founder David Barton, radio talk show host Mark Levin, and a multitude of other conservatives.  Supporters also include liberal hedge fund manager George Soros.  That’s right- Soros favors an Article Five, but not for addressed fiscal restraint and term limits.  Soros wants to call a convention for the purpose of limiting the influence that money has over the political process, aka campaign finance reform.

     Those who oppose an Article Five include conservative groups like Eagle Forum, the John Birch Society, Concerned Women of America, the National Rifle Association, and Americans for Prosperity and liberal groups like the ACLU and the AFL-CIO.  They all oppose for the same reason- no guarantee that a runaway convention wouldn’t happen. 

     Justice Scalia, a strict constitutionalist and a hero of conservatives, said the reason the founders put Article Five in the founding document was for just a time as this.  “They knew that Congress would be unwilling to give attention to many issues the people are concerned with, particularly those involving restrictions on the federal government’s own power.  The founders foresaw that and they provided the convention as a remedy.  If the only way to get that convention is to take this minimal risk, then it is a reasonable one.”

     Among conservatives you would be hard pressed to find one who doesn’t support a balanced budget amendment and term limits- the very issues the Article Five is charged to address.  But they don’t believe the Article Five is the vehicle to get it accomplished.  They want Congress to address those issues, but as time goes on, more conservatives are jumping on board because desperate times require desperate measures.
     Steven Hayward wrote in Forbes magazine in 2014; “An Article Five is a really bad idea and it’s probably time we give it a try.”    I am much closer to supporting an Article Five than I was last year.  I think most conservatives are. Thanks Senator Coburn for your passion and love for our country and for graciously allowing me to set the record straight on Oklahoma and the Article Five. 
UPDATE: Louisiana passed an Article Five resolution, so now eight states have called for a Convention of the States.  

Monday, May 30, 2016

Record Budget Hole in 2016!

Weekly Opinion Editorial

LEGISLATURE FACED HISTORIC CIRCUMSTANCES!

by Steve Fair



     On Friday, the Oklahoma state legislature adjourned sine die, which is Latin for ‘without day.”  That effectively ends this legislative session unless a special session is called.  The session was a challenging one.  Lawmakers faced a historic $1.3 billion dollar budget shortfall primarily due to the depressed price of oil.  On Friday the House narrowly passed the nearly $7 billion dollar budget that borrows $200 million to fill the budget hole. “This budget closes a sizable portion of a monumental budget hole and prevents the dire, unacceptable outcomes so many Oklahomans have feared may happen this session. There are still reductions in this budget, but it is certainly a workable budget even amid a major energy sector downturn that is creating difficulties all across Oklahoma,” Gov. Mary Fallin said in a prepared statement.

     The legislature passed a resolution that will have voters considering modernizing Oklahoma’s liquor laws.  If the State Question passes in November, wine and strong beer will be sold at grocery stores.   They killed a bill that would have increased taxes on cigarettes by $1.50 a pack to shore up the state’s Medicaid program.  They killed the federal mandated RealID, but it will be back. You can bet on it.  National Popular Vote raised its ugly head, but didn’t get any traction, but it will be back as well.   

     Once again the legislature talked about school consolidation, but nothing was done.  Senate President Pro Tempe Brian Bingman, (R- Sapulpa) says it is a major issue the state must address.  “The state doesn’t need over 500 school districts,” he said.  Same goes for consolidation of state law enforcement agencies-talked about, but never seriously considered.

     Education saving accounts(ESAs) were discussed but effective lobbying by the education establishment killed it.  Civil asset forfeiture proposals were opposed by law enforcement and never considered,  A House Joint Resolution to let voters consider making it harder to put restrictions on gun ownership failed.  So did a ‘Vermont carry’ bill. 

     The legislature passed a bill that if signed into law would have made abortion illegal in the state and those who performed abortion subject to having their medical license revoked.  Governor Fallin vetoed the bill, saying it would never pass judicial scrutiny.  The authors of the bill did not attempt to override the Governor’s veto.    

     Voters in November will be voting on whether Oklahoma will participate in a ‘convention of the states,” the so-called Article five convention.  Proponents of an Article Five insist that Congress will never pass a balanced budget amendment and term limits and so states must take the bull by the horns and convene a constitutional convention to get it done.  Those who oppose the Article Five don’t oppose a balanced budget amendment and term limits, but believe the Article Five is not the right vehicle.  Former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn is a big supporter of the Article Five.  Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum opposes an Article Five.  This issue divides many in the conservative ranks.  All agree on the goal, but not on the vehicle. Dr. Tom Coburn correctly pointed out that voters do not have to approve the Article Five- only the state legislature.  I appreciate him pointing that out and it allowed me to address the Article Five in this week's editorial(above)

     Legislators also passed a Joint Resolution that will have voters in November deciding on whether to remove the so-called ‘Blaine amendment,” from the state constitution.  The Blaine was what the state Supreme Court cited as what forced the removal of the Ten Commandments monument from state property. 

    This legislative session has been criticized, second-guessed and maligned more than any in recent history, but fact is no Oklahoma legislature has faced a budget hole this big- ever.  Even in the ‘80s during the oil bust, it was never this bad.  There is no doubt lawmakers could have done some things differently and increasing their own operating budgets doesn’t make you look good, but they did cut state government spending.  Everyone has an opinion- and they are entitled to it- about how the legislature performed.  Abraham Lincoln said, “He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”  But it’s a lot easier being an arm chair quarterback than playing the game.

Monday, May 23, 2016

In the ring, Trump is relentless!

Weekly Opinion Editorial

NEVER EVER GIVE IN!
by Steve Fair

     According to the latest RealClear Politics polling average, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are in a virtual statistical dead heat.  Just six weeks ago, Clinton led Trump by double digits, but the current average has them within .2% of each other.    The only poll that really counts is the one held on Election Day, but it is significant that Trump has surged against Clinton.  Here is why:
     First, Trump is the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.  For the first time in recent memory, Republicans have a presumptive nominee before the Democrats.  That gives a definitive advantage to Trump.  Clinton is still battling Senator Sanders for the Democrat nomination.  Sanders has little or no chance of wrestling the nomination from Clinton, but so long as he stays in the race, Clinton is fighting battles on two fronts, while Trump is fighting only Clinton. 
     Second, Clinton is not an energy candidate.  Even her inner circle admits she struggles with engaging regular folks and prefers policy wonks.  Patti Solis Doyle, a former campaign aide, says this about Hillary’s attitude toward campaigning:  “You know, [Hillary Clinton is] tired. She gets tired. She does it. She does it dutifully. Is it her most fun thing to do? No,” Doyle said. “Would she rather be looking at policy and going through legislation and working with a bunch of experts on how to, you know, improve the Affordable Care Act? Absolutely.”   Trump has effectively attacked her as being ‘low energy,’ and said he doesn’t think she has the physical strength to be president.  It appears that has gained traction with voters.  You will recall that Trump was able to effectively tag Jeb Bush as a low energy candidate in the early GOP primaries. 
     Third, Trump doesn’t back off- ever.  Traditional politicos don’t attack their opponents on a personal level.  They back off a tad when backing off is more politically expedient than pressing forward.  Trump doubles down when his opponents attack him.  The Donald is the definition of politically incorrect.  He says what is on his mind- every time.  In a political environment where voters have been exploited, manipulated, and lied to, Trump’s real straight talk has appeal.    
     Fourth, Clinton’s track record is dismal.  For someone with an impressive resume- U.S. Senate, Secretary of State and First Lady- she has a poor record of accomplishments.  Experience doesn’t always translate to success.  Clinton has been on the wrong side of most major issues for years.  Hillary is more liberal than Bill Clinton.  She doesn’t work across the aisle well.  Her strength is that everyone knows her- her weakness is that everyone knows her.    
     Fifth, women don’t trust Hillary.  Women are 52% of registered voters and 41% of them identify themselves as Democrats.  For years, Republicans have lost the female vote, but with Hillary on the ticket, Trump could change that.  According to a CBC/New York Times poll, forty (40) percent of Democratic primary voters believe Clinton is politically calculating and someone they don’t trust with the presidency.  
    Clinton is the wrong fighter to put in the ring with Trump.  She has too many weaknesses, flaws and scandals to spar with a heavyweight.  A more ‘gentlemanly candidate’ might take the advice of political operatives and just dance around and play a little ‘rope a dope’ with her, but in Trump’s world everything about his opponent is relevant- personal and policy.  He thrives on attacking and never backs down- never ever.  Winston Churchill said, “Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”  Trump never gives in and that is an attribute to be admired.
     Like him or not, Donald Trump is the ultimate fighter.  In the political ring, Trump is landing significant blows on Clinton.  She continues to throw haymakers and not connect.  If that continues, Trump will knock her out in November.