Monday, June 27, 2016
Weekly Opinion Editorial
BREXIT VOTE MAY BE PREVIEW- OR NOT!
by Steve Fair
Last week, Great Britain voted to exit the European Union. The EU was formed in the late 50s and includes 28 member nations and about 500 million in population. It established a single economic market through a standardization of laws in member countries. It abolished passport controls and allowed free movement of people, goods, services and capital. The ‘Euro’ currency was authorized and accepted throughout the Union. Brits voted 52% to leave the EU primarily due to the emotionally charged issue of immigration. EU law requires members to admit an unlimited number of migrants from other EU countries. Critics of the open borders policy argued that large-scale migration of workers from elsewhere in Europe had lowered wages for native-born Brits. Voting was heavy (71% turnout) and blue collar workers were the reason for the outcome. The average Englander was fed up with the elitist class- financial and political- blurring the distinctives of their country. In London and other larger metropolitan areas, the vote was clearly to remain, but the rural areas wanted to restrict immigration.
No one appears to have seen this coming. Pollsters were saying the vote would be close, but that Brits would vote to remain in the EU. In April, President Obama urged Brits to think carefully about the leaving the EU and warned them the U.K. would be moved to the “back of the queue” on trade deals with the U.S. if they voted to leave. Secretary Clinton also cautioned the Brits to remain in the EU. Donald Trump urged them to ‘take their country back,’ and supported Brexit before he took the official position and told people to not to listen to him because he hadn’t focused on it much.
So does the Brexit impact Americans? The initial reaction by the Dow Jones was negative, dropping 900 points in two days- the largest drop in history. That impacts 401ks, and retirement plans for most Americans- if anyone sells at the lower prices. Analysists expect the market to recover, but the Brexit could impact the worldwide economy for the next year. Britain is the world’s fifth largest economy and with the political climate murky in the country, investors pulled back on trading. The British pound fell to a 30 year low against the dollar. Three observations about the Brexit:
First, the Brexit vote reveals an angry electorate worldwide. The 28 nations of the EU have the most liberal immigration policy in the world. Many ‘natives’ in those countries see their country transforming before their eyes. Their culture, religion, economic livelihood and way of life are being threatened by unrestricted immigration. They believe their national and personal security is threatened by Muslim terrorists who can move freely throughout the EU. That frustration with the status quo is what propelled Donald Trump to the Republican nomination. Angry voters tend to be streaky voters and not as informed as faithful voters, and their mentality is often ‘throw the bums out,’ which has never resulted in better government.
Second, the leadership of Great Britain was clearly out of touch with their citizens. Prime Minister David Cameron, who once called himself Obama’s ‘bro,” announced after the vote he would resign in October and let his successor handle the spilt from the EU. Cameron bet his political future on the results of Brexit and lost. Brits have been pressuring their elected officials for years to reform the EU or get out, but the political elite didn’t listen.
Third, the Brexit has set back globalization. Political and financial elitists have to regroup in their plan to dissolve borders and create a common worldwide currency. Convincing the rank and file that national borders are unnecessary and that immigration should be unrestricted has presented more of a challenge than they anticipated, particularly in self-governing democracies. The sheep are not following as closely as they had hoped.The Brexit vote may be a preview of the coming presidential election- or not. There are certainly enough angry voters in America to elect Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. Americans are not ready for a borderless world, no matter what Secretary Kerry says. Americans want illegal immigration stopped. They want the borders secured. The question is: will they turn out at the polls in mass like the Brits?
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
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
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
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.