Political Rant 2016: a Humble-ish Pastor’s Opinion

I am so fascinated at how polarizing Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, Ted Cruz, and Bernie Sanders are. In fact all politics seem really polarizing these days. I’m a Pastor and I have opinions on politics, but I just don’t put my hope in Government. My hope is in Jesus. I don’t personally want to say something political that causes someone to never want to talk to me again. I always fight to understand another person’s viewpoint and God’s Word is way more important to talk about in these challenging times. But there’s no doubt, the rhetoric out there is insane right now. I don’t know if it was always that way, or if there’s just more “news” reporting it. What I have always found particularly weird about our 2-party political system is the variety of issues that have be “assigned” to one side or another – for instance, Abortion, Israel, Immigration, Gay Marriage, and Taxes. I just picked 5 random policy platforms. Democrats on Abortion = A woman’s choice!  Republicans on Abortion = No Killing Children!  Democrats on Israel = 2 State Solution with Palestine!  Republicans on Israel = Most important Ally in the Region!  Dems on Immigration = Anyone Who Wants to Be Here Should Get to Be Here!  GOP on Immigration = Get in Line and Wait for Approval!  Dems on Gay Marriage = It’s about Time!  GOP on Gay Marriage = What’s Next???  Dems on Taxes = The Rich need to Pay More!  GOP on Taxes = We All Pay Too Much Already!  Now I have no interest in hashing-out any of those issues, and there are a few dozen other issues equally as heated I could bring up. What is weird to me is that every single Democrat candidate (almost) without fail believes in every one of their platform beliefs. And every single Republican candidate (almost) without fail believes in every one of their platform beliefs. That’s an eclectic mix of issues. I get true libertarians. They’re like, “Let everyone do whatever they want!” And I get true Communists, “The Government should decide everything for everyone!” But why do Dems and the GOP believe what they believe? Could a Democrat ever win an election being Pro-Life, have a traditional view of marriage, but be for a 2-state solution in Israel, pro-immigration, and wanting to tax the top 1% of all their money? The answer is “No, not pure enough.” Could a Republican ever get above 3% in the polls if they were Pro-Choice, positive towards LGBT issues, but very conservative on financial issues like taxes and “entitlement” programs. The answer is again “No way Jose.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen a free-thinking politician in my voting lifetime get elected. (I see some in congress that break on some party-line issues, but they all seem old to me and have been in there since the Dallas Cowboys were good.)

Hitler

What I really despise is the rhetoric. Everyone is compared to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, and supporters on both sides do it so no finger pointing. A politician says something, and then a meme is created with a side-by-side with the toothbrush mustachioed man himself with a similar quote. Here’s the difference. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but saying something similar to Hitler has NOTHING TO DO WITH WHY HITLER WAS EVIL! Hitler had 6 million Jews and other disenfranchised groups killed! There’s nothing that Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or the like could say that is anywhere in the same universe of evil when compared to a man who had human-skin lamps in his office. Mean words cannot be compared to evil actions. Here’s a short list of things “our” politicians have done over the years – owned slaves, massacred Native Americans, imprisoned Japanese citizens, and allow Monsanto to exist. Everything that people hate about this crop of presidential candidates is that they lie, make veiled racist remarks, reveal their ignorance on the basic workings of the economy, and clearly hate the poor/rich/middle class/immigrants/Christians/etc. These are issues to disagree about, and in some cases strongly disagree about. Vote for (or against) whoever you want. Protest with signs or by not shopping at their favorite store. Tweet, blog, post or anything else you want to do to try to sway opinions. But don’t demonize your Facebook friends. Don’t alienate your family. Don’t cut-off your coworkers. If we are going to survive nuclear winter or complete economic collapse we are going to need each other.

Vote

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I don’t particularly like politicians. I love Jesus-y qualities in human beings such as humility, being a straight-shooter, serving your fellow man, and not spending money on stupid stuff. Just running for President almost eliminates all those qualities from a candidate (if they even possessed the qualities at one time.) I don’t think we should have “professional” politicians. It creates a caste system in America and guarantees corruption. I agree with the great Mark Twain when he said, “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.” (Dang, that’s funny.) So I’m personally glad there’s going to be a new President. I’m glad we’re going to have new people in the House and Senate. I’m glad there’s going to be new School Superintendants and Mosquito Foggers.

But I’m not just a complainer. I have things I want and I would love to vote for someone who believed in these. But I hardly hear anyone talk about these.

#1 – Not spending more than we bring in.

It seems hard to limit yourself to $3Trillion a year, but I’m going to have to put my foot down. I don’t really want any of my money wasted, but that’s inevitable and I’m not an idealist. So here it is. I don’t care what you use my money for politicians. You just can’t spend more than you bring in. You decide if it goes to Pakistan or Veterans. You decide if it goes to Social Security or your pensions. The answer can’t always be “Yes” and “More.” I don’t know the intricacies of Welfare, Obama Care, or Foreign Affairs, but I do completely understand that our mounting debt will absolutely cripple us. That’s not economics, that’s a blend of history and math.

#2 – Term Limits

President – 8 years max. Congress and Supreme Court – 12 years max. Local states can do whatever they want. If Massachusetts wants to go ahead and elect a totalitarian to rule over them, then that’s fine. Those Red Sox fans can move to Florida, Texas, or Alaska where there are no laws. That’s the cool thing about the United States. I want less power in DC and more power in the states. If California wants No gasoline, 99% taxes on the rich, $70 per hour minimum wage, and human rights for trees, then cool, do it. Just don’t make me live that way in Realsville. If that’s what’s important to people, then move there. And if it’s not, move away.

#3 – Freedom

Freedom of religion is the most important to me personally. I don’t want anyone infringing on the way I want to worship God. As long as I’m not hurting anyone, I don’t want anyone telling me anything I can and can’t do. I think the only function of the government should be to protect my freedoms, but I know that limited government ship has sailed.

So let’s take a look at the top few Presidential candidates and see if any of them have a hope of getting my vote in 2016.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump is both a jerk and a genius. Depending on how old you are, you were introduced to Donald Trump in different ways. I figure if you are 40 or older, you think of Donald Trump as a Billionaire Real-Estate Mogul who wrote The Art of the Deal and owned the NY Whatevers in that failed football league the USFL. ESPN told me that it was actually Trumps fault that the USFL failed, but they also told me that the one-hit wonder TV show Playmakers with all its drug use, womanizing, and violence was not a good representation of Pro-football. (Confused face) However, those under 30 just know The Donald by his trademarked catch phrase “You’re Fired!” (Please don’t sue me Mr. Trump for trademark infringement.) Trump, to many, is just in a long list of reality TV stars. They know he’s rich, but so are the Kardashians. But, I’m in my 30’s so I’m kind of trapped in the middle. I see him both as a character and a caricature. I’m not sure where his true self ends and the showman begins, and I’m not sure if he knows either. (I’m also unsure of where his hair starts and ends. I have wondered why he doesn’t just shave it all off, but then I guess he’ll look like the villain Lex Luther, and he definitely doesn’t need that right now.) I am so fascinated at how polarizing he is. He’s prideful, that’s for sure. He’s said some really mean stuff to people, that’s objectively true. I can almost promise if we ever hung out that he would rub me the wrong way. So is there any reason to vote for him? Sure there is. He’s a Billionaire. No one could ever entice him to do something he didn’t really want to do. If you think he says too many outlandish things then you have no idea what The Art of the Deal is all about. Your first offer is always extreme so that when you compromise you get exactly what you want. That’s every campaign promise he’s made. He’s not going to do any of the ridiculous things he’s said. That’s his starting point. His compromise will be more in line with mainstream thought, but he’ll be in control and “winning.” That’s a better strategy than any other Republican in my lifetime. The other good thing is lots of lobbyists and consultants are going to get fired if a “mainstream” candidate doesn’t win. That will probably be a good thing in the long run. I think maybe Trump might also share some things with the American people that no other person would. I can see him talking about all the surveillance going on. I can imagine him accidently mentioning whatever was found at Area 51. It would be awesome. However, just in my humble-ish opinion, I’m REALLY worried about him saying something really stupid and being unnecessarily offensive. I would like my President to be “classier” if that makes sense. But man, if his personality was better, and the media didn’t take things out of context all the time; the concept of a true businessman (non-politician), beholden to no one does hold real interest for me.

Hillary Clinton

She and her husband are the greatest politicians I’ve ever seen. I am blown away by Hillary’s ability to subtly change a story and make the reporter feel like they’re the one that got it wrong. I am truly amazed by how seamlessly her opinion changes as the American people’s opinions change. She has had experience at the highest level of government for almost 30 years, that almost necessitates a certain amount of criminal activity. The Clinton’s also have good friends in political leadership in Iran and Saudi Arabia, seeing how much they have donated to their foundation. That’s probably good for negotiations seeing those 2 countries might go to war with each other here soon, it will be in her financial interest to keep them from annihilating each other. I don’t know if her marriage is something to be impressed by or disgusted at, but talk about the next season of Netflix’s Making a Murderer or FX’s Fargo. There is so much interesting material in her life (including people mysteriously dying) that the entertainment value might just be worth it. I’ve never actually heard anyone say they like Hillary Clinton. I’ve heard people say they respect her, and what she does for women. (Even though she paid her female senate staff 11.5% less than her male staff… but that’s better than other Senators, right?) On a more serious note, I couldn’t believe my ears when I was watching the Democratic debate a couple months ago. She said the enemy she was most proud of making was “Republicans.” That got a big applause from the crowd, but what a weird statement for a Presidential candidate to make. Over 30% of this country identifies as “Republican” and about 50% will vote for Republican candidates. I would love a President that really wanted to unite the nation; but more importantly than that, I want a President that wants to do what’s right, that truly weighs the dissenting point of view, and actually believes they will stand before God one day and give an account for what they have done. You could probably guess that I won’t be voting for Hillary Clinton; but if she becomes the POTUS (which this guy that lives in Realsville actually believes is going to happen), I actually will have a sliver of hope. I think a Hillary Presidency might actually precipitate a Convention of States described in Article 5 of the Constitution (this is where state Governors or an appointee can actually get together and vote on new Amendments to the Constitution with two-thirds majority vote.) I think it would be awesome to see. The ad space on CSPAN would triple to over $12 per commercial I bet if that was on there. That’s the only hope we would ever have in getting a balanced budget or a term limits amendment. It would be great to see DC politicians squirming on cable news too. If someone promised me that a Convention of States would definitely happen if she became President, I could almost be excited for that State of the Union Address.

Bernie Sanders

Every time I hear him talk I think of George Steinbrenner on Seinfeld voiced by the hilarious Larry David. “George, I smell calzones from Pizanos!” Now I think I’m going to surprise people here. I actually kind of like Bernie Sanders. I don’t think anyone would say I’m Feeling the Bern, but I think he is actually genuine. He says what he believes. I think I agree with almost everything he says is wrong with this country and why it’s wrong. Where I don’t agree most times is with his solutions. But, I love that he has specific ideas that he really believes will work. I know he is a politician, but he has always seemed honest to me. He is a socialist. Cool, I’d shake his hand and tell him I’m not, but that’s something cool about America. We can agree to disagree with our politicians. Now I mean this, no lie. If I was forced to come to grips with the reality that for the next 8 years, no matter what, we are going to spend Trillions of dollars more than we take-in, then I would be willing to even vote for the Larry David impersonator. I especially love that the Democrat National Committee seems to hate Bernie Sanders and that makes me like him even more. I think I would like anything that flusters Debbie WasserName. The stuff that The Bern Man wants to give to the average American is very appealing and is better than anything else any politician has ever given me. These last few years, I have had to pay more in medical insurance and taxes, I paid off my own student bills with what little was left in my paychecks (yeah, my wife and I had 5 W-2’s last year), and I have to pay for a nuclear power-plant that was never built and additional research on Solar Panels and other technology that I don’t personally get to enjoy the benefits of. So no, no politician has done anything for me, but that’s ok, I’m humble-ish. I think Bernie Sanders’ ideas would be good for me and for many, many other people. Here’s the problem, if there isn’t an equal amount of cutting from the budget on the other side of the ledger, then the damage that a few more Hundred Trillion Dollars of Unfunded Liabilities would be absolutely catastrophic for our future. I’ll lay my cards out on the table with this one. I’m more worried that my kids might be on food rations in 50 years than I am about it potentially being 1.2° degrees warmer. (Actually, real scientists called astrophysicists are predicting that with a lack of solar flare activity that’s expected, the earth might get cooler in the next 50 years, but that’s neither here nor there.) 

Ted Cruz

I am a little confused about him being born in Canada. I remember in my 3rd grade public school education that you had to be born in the US to be president, and that’s why Arnold Schwarzenegger could never run. But I’ve heard it explained what “natural born citizen” really means, and it definitely makes sense, it’s just different from what I remember hearing as a kid. (But I was also taught that Pluto was a planet and that Indigo was one of the colors in the rainbow, but now those have been changed too.) Ok, confession time. I like Ted Cruz. You want to know why? Every single Republican I heard campaign railed against the Unaffordable Care Act. Only one Senator came through on his promise to do whatever it took to defund it – Ted Cruz. He’s such a pariah because he keeps his word, and that goes against everything the DC establishment stands for. Other reasons why he’s hated is that he essentially called the Senate Majority Leader in his own Party a “Liar.” Some don’t like it when people break decorum like that, but if you don’t want to be called a liar – don’t lie. Cruz has also stood up in an international court and went against George W. Bush when he was President. He’s got guts. Now, I understand that a lot of Cruz’s policies might go against what you believe. No problem, don’t vote for him. Make a meme if it makes you feel better. But if you look at what he says, and you agree with them, then I’m the most sure of any candidate I’ve seen that he’ll follow through on what he says. His words mean nothing to me. His actions mean something. He was also the debate champion at Princeton and Harvard, and I just like seeing a constitutionalist do well in a debate sometimes. My hope is that it’s Ted Cruz v. Bernie Sanders. Two seemingly honest people that really believe their ideas will work and are on the farther ends of their political parties. I would love for the American people to see a clear distinction like that. We get what we deserve in a democratic republic like ours. I’m glad we get to vote, and I’m glad there’s no real fear of revolution depending on the outcome. I would just rather see a debate and discussion on ideas and not just rhetoric.

Honorable Mentions

Marco Rubio – He quite possibly could be the least wealthy President in history. That’s kinda cool. He smells like a politician to me though. He might say whatever people tell him to say. That scares me a bit. But I get why people like him. What’s there to really dislike? He’s almost impossible to seriously attack.

Mark O’Malley – or is it Martin O’Malley? Mike And’Molly? Eh, doesn’t matter.

Jeb Bush – I actually thought he was a pretty good governor, but I wouldn’t vote for him. I don’t want royal families in America. He just seems like a politician from 30 years ago, and he does nothing but attack other people. Tell me what you’re about, then let me like or dislike you.

Ben Carson – A good, moral man. Way too nice for politics. It’s a cut-throat world. But he is the best example of how the news media isn’t about reporting news but creating news. Ben Carson is an all-time great American. There are only a handful of people alive on earth that are more accomplished than Dr. Ben Carson and the media treats him like he is a moron and a liar. Craziness.

Chris Christie – I like that he speaks his mind and “bites back,” but I can’t say I want the rest of the nation to be like New Jersey.

Rand Paul – I’m more and more libertarian every day. I like Rand. I like that he goes to historically black schools and talks about the advantages of conservative policies and knowing what the Constitution says. I want more politicians talking to crowds that they know might not agree with them.

Carly Fiorina – I would love for her to debate Hillary. Hopefully she would focus the debates on ideas and not on who has what genitalia.

Mike Huckabee & Rick Santorum – Both seemingly good, moral guys. They’re going for the “Evangelical” vote, but so are Ted and Ben. They’re both fresher candidates. These guys had their shot and they couldn’t beat out McCain or Romney for the nomination (people forget that Santorum was technically the runner-up for the GOP last time.) Almost all of Mike Huckabee’s ideas are big government ideas, which I’m not into, but he is overall a great communicator. I have one weird knock on him though. He used to be a pastor, then became a Governor? What a huge step-down.

John Kasich – Yep, he’s still in the race. He always looks so confused as to why he’s not doing better. You’re just not interesting at all John. We live in a world where 2 stars of the movie Predator have been Governors, and an SNL alums can win a Senate seat because he was good enough, smart enough, and doggonit felons liked him. You are just a physical manifestation of Ohio.

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