How to Restore Our National Dignity
As the 2020 election season approaches, I find myself struggling to stave off the rush of dread that encompassed the final stretch of the 2016 election.
After speaking with church members and passing out pocket Constitutions, stressing the importance of Christians to be engaged in the civic process—Get registered! Know the candidates! Know the issues! But above all, season your choices with godly wisdom!—it all just seemed to fall apart.
It was then that I disengaged myself from the process, realizing that the American public had picked the absolute worst candidates either party had to offer, and no matter the outcome, it would be a nightmare for our nation. It was a lose-lose proposition.
Time has only proved me correct.
So here we are, just over a year away from another presidential election, and the heartbreaking reality has emerged, that “principle” is now a dirty word, to some.
You can’t simply say that you choose to step away from the partisan politics of the Big Two. On either side, you will be pushed to choose. The myth of the binary option is strong. And in this struggle for political one-upmanship, grace, reason, and sound debate has been lost.
It is my belief now, and has been for some time that Ronald Reagan’s 1964 “A Time for Choosing” speech should be required viewing, from beginning to end, for anyone entering the political field.
Ronald Reagan, while he had his detractors, knew how to deliver a message that resonated. He was a powerful speaker, but also, a graceful man.
With the exception of the Bush presidencies, there has been a dire lack of such graceful discourse from Washington, D.C., since Reagan’s departure.
The chaotic nature of politics in today’s America didn’t start with Donald Trump, but he has worked over time to create a combative hellscape, where he demonizes the media, our intelligence community, and our foreign allies, while lionizing murderous dictators and geopolitical foes.
Recently, Christian Vanderbrouk wrote here at The Bulwark about the dangerous rhetoric of right-wing nationalists and their fever dreams of a second civil war.
He described several voices from the Trump right that are cashing in by fear mongering and spreading dystopian MAGA porn. The reactions to the piece grieved me.
Those who have staked their ground firmly behind President Trump were not shocked by the racially offensive nature of the writings, but rather, cheered on the individuals who dared put such garbage into the mainstream.
Instead of seeking common ground for debate, I’ve seen these individuals say to conservatives that liberals want them dead. How do you move forward in any positive direction with such over-the-top rhetoric?
The age of Trump has destroyed the ideas of grace and principle. It’s all about choosing friends and naming enemies. There is no in between. If you disagree, then you’re automatically labeled “liberal,” and whatever your past, or your views on the issues, they matter not.
“Conservatism” is now defined as loyalty to Donald Trump. Meanwhile, the national debt grows, his trade wars threaten the economy, and his scandals threaten the stability of the government.
I’ve had people point out that in some of my work, I’m not exactly genteel in my treatment of Trump, or his supporters. You can call it my Wigglesworth-inspired Pentecostalism, and the belief that there are some situations that require a more aggressive denunciation.
On the other hand, I almost get why some feel they have no choice, including abstention.
The most recent crop of congressional newcomers make it seem as if crazed liberalism has been shot from a cannon into the public square.
The Democrats’ answers to solving the world’s woes include bigger government, curtailing of constitutional rights, and massive social programs that would prove unsustainable.
So far Senator Elizabeth Warren has called for an end to the Electoral College, a move that would surely alienate voters in large swaths of rural America, and she has dusted off the old hat of reparations for slavery. It’s a wonderful pander tool for a certain voting bloc, but not really practical and would do more damage to race relations in this nation than it would serve to solve.
Even aside from Warren and Bernie Sanders, the drumbeat of socialism is growing louder on the left. There is the ridiculous Green New Deal and the ridiculously impractical Medicare for All. But especially telling is the behavior of freshman House members and Democratic socialists like Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, who defend the regime in Venezuela against possible U.S. intervention even as they watch it crumble under the weight of its failed system.
There’s always this belief with the far-left that every other nation that has suffered because of the same system was doing it wrong, but we, somehow, could do it “right.”
Legislation has been passed in New York and was introduced in Virginia and Illinois that would potentially allow for abortion up to the point of birth. Accordingly, several Democrat politicians have gone on to say that protecting the life of a child born alive after an abortion attempt is a decision to be made by the mother and her doctor. These are no longer considered “radical” ideas.
You can see the conundrum for those who are, like me, politically homeless.
There are no easy answers, at least, not until the drive for power is put aside, and the focus becomes the health and well-being of the nation.
I would like to see a third party rise up, offer a truly viable candidate, and challenge the hold the major parties have on our politics. It’s been tried before and failed, but that doesn’t mean it will always be that way.
I would like to see grace return to public discourse, where people listen first, before deciding that they’re facing off against an enemy.
For all its faults, this nation is our home. Neither the nationalists on the right, nor the extremists on the left have sole rights to her. The time is now for those who have kept their powder dry and maintained their principled stance to cease being mere spectators.
The time is now to get vocal, get involved, and help regain our national dignity.
We may not get another chance.