Category Archives: US politics

Pre-Election Insights and Prayers

Regardless of the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election, our national experiment in virtue-based liberty is in a fragile and fraying state, with unprecedented private and public anger. Thoughtful women and men are distressed that the major parties offer two such deeply flawed candidates. Journalistic bias and agitation propaganda have replaced careful research and measured writing. Lost in all of the presidential chaos are the important local and state elections that immediately affect citizens where they live.

I offer these prayers and reflections as a cri de coeur – a cry of the heart – for divine mercy and decisive repentance and renewal in all of us. Underneath the public scandals focused on money, sex and power are deep moral and spiritual ambivalence, with various elites perverting ethical values for their own ideological agendas.

There are three insights and three prayers I invite all to consider and confess as we prepare the election and the aftermath.

Insight One: We are dehumanizing and disintegrating human identity and wholeness. When we ignore biological gender, separate sexual intimacy from marriage and fostering the next generation and reduce identity to current erotic impulses, we are not progressing past religious restrictions. We are actually regressing into primordial impulses that ruin health, oppress non-conforming people and hinder productive life. When we separate “personal morality” from “public policy”, arguing that one can be messed up in private and still lead effectively, we are destroying the foundations of the common good and true liberty. Everyone should bring their whole self to their work, and allow their values to inform their actions and policies. I am not advocating religious tests or totalitarian uniformity of adult relationships. I am asserting that healthy people make better leaders.

Our prayer: “O God, Creator of heaven and earth and fashioner of humankind, forgive our pride and rebellion. Forgive our attempts to improve on your design and destiny. Help us rediscover the dignity, equality and uniqueness of each person and desire for all others the responsibilities and rights we affirm for ourselves. By your grace, empower us for work that expresses neighborly love, creates value and helps generations yet unborn to flourish. Help us to realize that your moral precepts are for our good and any restrictions of our behaviors are for our protection and ultimate fulfillment. Amen.”

Insight Two: We are so ideologically polarized that we are often missing creative solutions for seemingly intractable problems. Economic growth and opportunity include private investments and wise public policies. Rapprochement with Islam and the West must engage both the historic mistakes of colonialism and the rapacious history of Islamic empires and jihadist movements. Peace in the Middle East will never come until Muslim leaders can say the words, “Israel in the national state of the Jewish people.” We can balance the budget and pay off our national debt in a generation, if we will stop seeing wise stewardship as “starving children” and insist on best practices for all that manage the public trust. Urban transformation requires mobilizing servant-leaders from all fields and includes personal transformation and systemic change. Will we roll up our sleeves and serve, or merely keep accusing others?

Our prayer: “O Lord, forgive our arrogance, thinking we could solve every problem with human engineering. You invite us to cry out for wisdom and you promise to bestow it generously, if we come with humility. The signs of divine wisdom include peace, justice, courage and love, fostering harmony and generating hope. Lord, we need the ‘wisdom to do justice’ that Solomon requested as we navigate so many difficult issues, most of which we have generated though our varied intentions and actions. Help us seek you, listen deeply to one another and discover new ways to help people and communities flourish. Amen.”

Insight Three: We need a fresh vision of what personal, local, and national flourishing look like, especially in a global world where we are blessed and informed by so many cultures. This is not wholesale abandonment of the first principles of America’s Declaration and Constitution. In fact, a reaffirmation of the deepest values that informed our founders will help us define citizenship, national identity and liberty in a rapidly changing world. We must reaffirm the virtues of personal responsibility, healthy families, hard work, civil and religious affiliation and local civic engagement. We will not always agree on every definition and policy, but shared vision helps us forge a preferred future.

Our prayer: “Gracious and loving God, you remind us that without vision we will lose restraint and without a sense of purpose, we often compromise our principles. Forgive us, merciful Lord, for all the competing fantasies, the dystopian and utopian visions that do not align with your kind and loving desires for us. Forgive our focus on momentary pleasures at the expense of the coming generations. Transform our shortsighted lusts into loving service. Help us strive for excellence without perfectionism, and principled living with true toleration for other perspectives. How we need your help as we find new common ground for the common good. Amen.”

Our presidents, governors and majors are not messiahs. The finest laws fail without personal and community virtue. The best of our human nature is often corrupted by the worst of our fallen state. All of these insights and prayers are mere words without a thorough spiritual awakening rooted in the good news of Jesus Christ. When confessing Christians repent of compromise and begin compassionate service for their neighbors, such integrity overflows and blesses those that do not have the same religious commitment. When the common good is understood, alliances are formed and people of conscience find ways to work together. Even while we (with civility) argue about our differences (and they do make a difference!), we can act sacrificially for our neighborhood and nation.

May God grant us courage, love and wisdom in these days. Today’s discipline is tomorrow’s destiny, for by divine design, our decisions matter.

A Word for Mr. Trump

Dear Donald Trump,
I pen these words with prayers for you and our nation.

You have caused quite a stir.

But unsettling the political landscape is not statesmanship.

For some you are the key to our nation’s survival.
Others see a narcissist running a new reality show.

I think you are – like all people – beautiful and broken – gifted and selfish, concerned about country and struggling with character.

Many share your concerns on immigration and jobs, national security and terrorism, inefficient government and insecurity about America’s future.

I know that many of your positions are “opening negotiating positions” especially the ban on Muslim immigration and the wall with Mexico.

But Mr. Trump, character matters. You cannot shout, “crooked Hillary” and not face your own challenges. I call on you to cease personal insults and offer clarity on:

  • Immigration that remains hospitable.
  • Job creation that keeps goods flowing globally.
  • Abortion: will you support the Republican platform?
  • First and Second Amendment liberties.
  • Racial reconciliation – how to we reduce tensions and engender unity?

And there is much more…

I haven’t decided my vote. Frankly, I am dismayed that neither party could do better.

Will you envision a future and demonstrate the ethics necessary for all to flourish or are you merely one more demagogue we must endure?

Stop the insults. Start sharing insights. Come clean on any hidden issues.

And above all, cease boasting about all you will do.
Please articulate what all of us must do for a better future.

I already have a Savior…I am looking for a public servant.

Vision 2016: Part 3: Domestic and Economic Issues

Vision 2016: Part 3: Domestic and Economic Issues

Whenever altruists speak of vision, cynics chortle with, “Get real – politics is dirty business.” While the politicians are not among the favored groups in our land, they are elected to represent us and pass laws that – according to the Constitution – will further “domestic tranquility.” As we consider vision that people of conscience can embrace for America’s preferred future, here are some insights for domestic policy. All require integrity, consideration of future generations and some measure of thoughtfulness toward others. These virtues are sometimes in short supply within the environs of Washington, D.C.! Our experiment in liberty depends upon consideration of the common good. Here are some policies and principles that our public servants should consider:

  • Poverty is ameliorated through personal, social, spiritual and political cooperation, including vibrant private/public partnerships, ethical entrepreneurship and well-administrated compassion.
  • Economics is a moral science, with concern for value-creation, long-term flourishing and adaptability to global and local changes.
  • Environmental stewardship and economic flourishing are partners for good, not rivals for power. It is possible to care for people and the planet and have healthy profits.
  • Private property ethically managed is a foundation for wealth-creation.
  • Universal healthcare is a moral mandate, administered as locally as possible, with federal ethical oversight and public/private partnerships that secure excellent, cost-effective care, with no violation of religious principles.
  • Best practices help us reign in the costs of domestic and foreign aid programs without reducing services or hurting the most vulnerable.
  • Balanced local, state and federal budgets are the norm, not the exception.
  • Local and state governments still matter and activist judges cannot overturn the reasonable will of the people.
  • The minimum wage should be phased out in favor of natural pricing and an increased Earned Income Credit.
  • Immigrants are welcome, with proper screening, border security and accountability from business, educational, political and religious institutions and the immigrants themselves.
  • The war on drugs includes recriminalizing marijuana sale and use (with very restricted exceptions for particular patients under a doctor’s care), destroying the cartel fields wherever they are found and holding our neighboring nations accountable for their corruption.
  • Mental health and addiction needs are properly funded and no one is without help when needed.
  • New businesses are encouraged with local, state and federal regulators stewarding resources for generations to come while opening doors for wealth-creation. The EPA is demilitarized and eminent domain is used selectively.
  • Tax systems are simplified, IRS powers no longer violate the Constitution and more revenues are spent locally.
  • Our welfare systems are humanized and reformed, with proper incentives to find work. Care for the vulnerable is improved, while rooting out corruption and fraud.

These are some of the policies that will help ensure improved economic and social conditions now and in the future. Changes in the IRS and minimum wage are uphill fights, with so many special interests competing for resources. The Clinton-Gingrich cooperation of 1994-1997 helped four million people get off welfare and find sustainable work.

The dignity of work, sustaining families and offering everyone access to opportunities to flourish are vital for stability and a thriving society. None of these suggestions work without personal virtue, the rule of law and property rights. Justice and responsibility are inseparable and fairness is not the guarantee of uniform outcomes. May we again find our way toward creativity and community, initiative and interdependence.