Dog person or a cat person – Coke or Pepsi - thin crust or thick crust - Ginger or Mary Ann - and the iconic 1980’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups television commercial tag lines: “You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!" …OR… "You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”
Just like these somewhat humorous debates, are the not so humorous questions that weigh on our minds and in our culture. Every day we are reminded, in every conversation, every social media post, and every television news cast – that we are a world, country, and society, that is divided, and a great portion of this division is based on the role of the government and/or our politicians. It is important to note that we are all children of God and thus it is in God ALONE that we need to put our trust and faith. But one can’t help but be impacted by our governments and our politicians. So, as you ponder the messages in this Blog, don’t forget what Jesus said to the Pharisees and some of Herod's men, who wanted to trap him into saying the wrong thing:
But Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to inspect.” So, they brought it, and He asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they answered. Then Jesus told them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” And they marveled at Him. Mark 12:15-17.
Today, I want to focus on three topics that I feel are key to the role of government; Statesmen versus Politician, Outlawing Political Parties, and the Irony of what our culture now focuses on versus what our country is designed to support.
Statesmen versus Politician
Let’s start with a loose, but I feel appropriate, definition: A statesman (also means a stateswoman) is a respected, skilled and experienced political leader or figure. In most respects a statesman is the opposite of a politician. Politicians are thought of as people who will say or do anything to get elected or to gain power. A statesman is someone who does everything for the common good of the people he or she represents. To call a person a statesman is a mark of high regard for that person's integrity. To call someone a politician usually implies the person is worthy of very little esteem. Because of the “little esteem” perception, most politicians say they are statesmen, but many are truly only politicians. For example, George Washington is almost always called a statesman. Make your own judgement about a good politician example; there are several in congress today (I won’t name names) that are clearly only politicians. An elder statesman is a term often defined as an older politician or advisor who is thought to be above normal politics; at the time of the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin would have been considered an elder statesman.
In 51 BC, Cicero published De re publica (On the Republic). The dialog was about what made a true statesman. It was about the virtues and ideals such a leader must have. Cicero wrote that a great statesman did not have to descend from aristocrats. But he must have virtus (virtue), iustitia (a sense of justice) and wisdom. He must also have dignitas (roughly translated as dignity), temperance and must show generosity and be magnanimous.
A statesman has certain core values and will not change beliefs simply to advance a political career. If a change in policy is necessary for the good of the people he or she serves, the change will be made no matter how much it is criticized.
So, should our congresspeople be Statesmen or Politicians? Article 1, section 1, of the US Constitution states: All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. The next several sections define the details, representation numbers, and “implied” roles of these Senators and Representatives. I say “implied” because the Constitution does not actually define the exact roles and duties of each congressperson. However, as stated last week in Part I of this blog, it does provide some expectations of our elected officials. If you want a very simple overview of the role of congress, I found this essay that depicts this very well: US Capitol Student essay written in 2013: US Capitol Student Survey – feel free to test yourself if you like 😊)
As I also mentioned last week; According to a Congressional Research Report: The duties, carried out by a Member of Congress, are understood to include representation, legislation, and constituent service and education, as well as political and electoral activities. Also noted in a House of Representatives guide, created by the House Historian: Members are elected to the House to represent the constituents of their congressional district in the federal government, and to attend to their particular needs. The role of the Senators, as defined in the 17th amendment, is to represent the needs and philosophies of their states. However, the state governments represent their constituents as well, so in essence the US Senators still, in fact, indirectly represent their constituents. Here is an interesting VOX October 13, 2018 article on why the Senate does not appropriately represent the people: Senate Represents States not People
So, while we as constituents have a responsibility to elect responsible Senators and Representatives, it is in fact our elected congresspeople’s responsibility to represent their constituents…this role seems to have been lost by many of our leaders. I will miss former Indiana Congresswoman Susan Brooks, who left office on January 3, 2021, because she was a statesman, or the closest I’ve seen in many years. She would often survey her constituents on most bills or issues to understand the views of her district, and she would vote those views, which did not always match her own personal views. THAT’S WHAT A STATESMAN DOES – REPRESENT THEIR PEOPLE – BEFORE THEMSELVES. I think we all agree we need more statesmen and less politicians. A 26th amendment to the constitution could require our elected officials to conduct themselves as statesmen – more on this later in this Blog.
Outlawing Political Parties
As we have seen from the previous discussion, we seem to have far too many politicians and far too little statesmen. So, my simple mind, looked at this years ago, and postured that the easiest way to correct this is to outlaw political parties. Seems like a lame suggestion until you really give it some thought and dig into the details. For example, a new up and coming candidate wants to do it right and be a true statesman, until they find out that they have to align to a party to get support, they have to side with the party’s view to get a bill passed, they have to support other party members bills even though the bills might not benefit their constituents, and finally to have any real chance of election in today’s world, they need to align to a party to get those, of the same political persuasions, votes and ultimately get elected into office. So, in essence, the presence of political parties has in fact changed this true do-gooder from a statesman into a politician, just to be able to be elected and have a voice to represent their people.
To me, this is the first and most compelling reason, to outlaw political parties, because the constituents rarely get properly represented when the above political wrangling occurs. But there is a second and some would say equally compelling reason. The pure cost of political parties, or what I would say the extreme waste of money, is another core reason. For example, take one – JUST ONE - political campaign. In 2020, Donald Trump raised a total of $1.1 billion for his re-election effort. This amount includes donations to his official campaign committee and outside groups like single-candidate super PACs and hybrid PACs or Carey Committees. Joseph Biden, meanwhile, raised significantly more money than Trump, with $1.6 billion of campaign funds. This amount also includes donations to his official campaign committee and outside groups like single-candidate super PACs and hybrid PACs. Biden spent significantly more on his campaign than Trump did at $775.629 million. However, he still had $162 million cash on hand by Election Day. In total, Biden and Trump spent a combined $1.3 billion.
Obviously, this was a presidential campaign but what about a small home-town election. The cost of winning a city council campaign varies based on the size of the city. But getting the basics for a small to medium sized city will cost $8,000 - $12,000. Here’s a break-down excluding the even smaller elections:
· City Council: $8,000-$12,000 per campaign
· State Senators and Representatives: $100,000-$300,000 per campaign
· State Governors $300,000-$1,000,000 per campaign
· US Senators $14M-$19M, and Representatives $2M-$3M – all per campaign.
Just counting the major elections, in 2020, 35 Senators ran for office, 435 representatives, and 13 Governors. These three groups plus the presidential election alone, spent on average, $2,973,450,000 or nearly $3 Billion, in 2020, to get elected to office.
Now let’s look at Political Party Conventions or should I say giant free election parties, as in “let the alcohol flow” type of parties. We of course did not have 2020 conventions due to the pandemic. In 2016, Philadelphia hosted 40,000 Democratic party delegates, media and other visitors. Putting on a good show for all those millions watching on TV isn’t cheap. When bidding to host the convention, Philadelphia set a budget of $84 million for the event. Most of that money came from two groups: The Democratic National Convention Committee 2016 and the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee, both of which rely on private donors. In total, private and corporate donors are expected to contribute $67.2 million, making this the most expensive Democratic convention in terms of private fundraising. In addition to that money, the federal government gives up to $50 million to host cities to cover security costs. Philadelphia requested $43 million for security personnel, equipment and supplies. That makes the total cost of the convention $127 million
How about the Republican convention? The Republican National Convention attracted an estimated 50,000 visitors, including 2,470 delegates, 2,302 alternate delegates and 15,000 credentialed media. The GOP’s Cleveland Host Committee aimed to raise $64 million to fund the event. Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and Ohio collectively contributed $15 million to that total. The federal government provided a $50 million grant to the cities hosting presidential conventions plus let’s not forget the television production costs. Cities vie to host presidential conventions because thousands of visitors typically pour money into their economies. The 2008 RNC generated more than $153 million in total direct economic impact in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. Cleveland City Councilman Jeff Johnson estimated that the city itself received only a quarter of the money spent at the convention, mostly through sales tax. Most of the money spent will go to private businesses, restaurants, and hotels. The total cost of the convention was about $114 million, with taxpayers picking up about half of it.
In total, $241M for the two political conventions.
Now I’m not saying eliminating political parties will end all this spending, but it will significantly decrease the amount spent. But the money spent on conventions alone, would go away, providing the opportunity to spend all, or at least a portion, of this money on true country infrastructure issues, poverty, homelessness, etc.
As stated in last weeks blog, there is enough money spent here to fund numerous needs and functions. We most certainly could develop and roll-out two or three step authentication for all legal citizens to assure fair and accurate elections – EVERY TIME. We could also use some of this money to require our congresspeople to use mass mailings or e-mails to survey their constituents on every bill or critical issue so they at least will be armed with the will of their people. Whether or not they will vote the way the people/surveys indicate, is still up to them, but that’s why we vote, to endorse their support, or to kick them out for lack of support.
There is so much that could be done with this much money. Yes, individuals running for office, without a political affiliation, will still spend some money on their campaigns, and some donors will not give as much when not being able to pick a party in general, but a great deal of this $3.3 Billion, per presidential election year, could be spent on real and meaningful change and improvements. Let’s not forget there is an election …every year… some spending far less but some spending nearly as much.
I think it’s time for a 26th amendment to the Constitution requiring statesmen and outlawing political parties.
Our Culture Focus – Ironic
THIS TOPIC MAY BE TOO SENSITIVE, OR NEGATIVE, TO SOME.
I’m going to start out with a personal observation that haunts me to this day. The personal observation that I speak of, is when Scott Peterson was convicted of killing his wife and unborn child. If you don’t remember, I’m sorry to bring down a sad topic, but let me remind you: Scott Lee Peterson is a convicted murderer who is currently incarcerated in San Quentin State Prison. In 2004, he was convicted of the first-degree murder of his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, and the second-degree murder of their unborn son, Conner, in Modesto, California.
IF YOU ARE SENTIVE TO A DISCUSSION ON ABORTION, YOU SHOULD STOP READING NOW.
I have no connection to Mr. Peterson nor his family, in fact I know nothing about them. This was a horrible crime and unfortunately happens all to often in this world, and believe me when I say that I not now, nor ever will, condone such an act. But the thing that haunts me is the second-degree murder conviction. I assume he is in fact guilty and thus I agree with the conviction, but the part that haunts me is that if his wife had chosen to have an abortion, of her unborn child, days or weeks before being murdered by Mr. Peterson, the abortion would have been legal. What the heck is wrong with this picture – an unborn child can be murdered in the name of abortion??? PLEASE don’t misunderstand me, I despise anyone who hurts a child, especially an unborn child, and Mr. Peterson, or anyone else, doing the same thing should be convicted, so how can abortion be legal???
Here is a sobering fact; according to Focus on the Family: more than 1 million abortions are performed each year in the United States. Since 1973, it is estimated that more than 62 million abortions have been performed in the United States. Based on current abortion rates, about one in three women will have an abortion by age 45. Almost half (49%) of abortions are among women and teens 24 years old and younger. 84 percent of women who had abortions in the U.S. were unmarried.
Focus on the Family can help you if you, or someone you may know, needs help or advice. Their only purpose is to love and care for you, and all of God’s people.
I cannot believe we are a society that allows abortion, or let’s be frank, murder. Our most precious resource is life and our most special resources are those young lives. As Jesus said in Mark 10:13-16:
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
How much untapped potential and good never gets to see the light of day because their life is snuffed out in the womb – this is a genuine true tragedy and a true national pandemic.
If you need help, seek out the loving and caring people at Focus on the Family, the many local support groups, or at your local church. If you are appalled like me, please contribute to these groups, to end this tragedy or write your congressperson to repeal Roe v Wade.
There is a plethora of ironic things that face us today. I found this on a social media post which I feel describes these ironies so well (someone else speaking – not me):
“So, let me get this straight, we are a nation that accepts pornography but hates abuse. A nation that does not believe in gender, but fights for women’s rights. We’re a nation that believes no child should be left behind but we have aborted over 60 million. We’re a nation where hero’s have died so our flag could fly over a free nation, but then we give the title “Heroes” to wealthy athletes who kneel in disrespect. We’re a nation where political parties ignore the corruption of their own party while condemning the corruption of the other. We’re a nation of laws, yet we’re a nation where that only applies if you’re not politically powerful. We’re a nation that has “In God We Trust” printed on our money but we’re a nation where the ACLU sues people who make His name known in public. We’re the greatest nation on the earth yet we consume more antidepressants than any other nation in the world. We’re a nation that pledges we’re one, yet we’re a nation of AGGRESSIVE division. And we wonder why there is so much confusion?”
As honest and compelling as these statements seem to be, we cannot give in nor give up. We must continue to be great examples of right, caring, love, and compassion. Yes, there are many challenges and issues in our world, and yes in this country which I love, and which is still the greatest on this earth. But we are all better than these challenges. Ask God every day to help us in our journey to heal our land and our people. Pray to him that our leaders need open minds and hearts and the courage and strength to stand up to these challenges.
I know it seems like an insurmountable challenge, but nothing is impossible with God. We all need to walk every day with God in our hearts and minds and cast a shadow of loving, caring, compassionate children of God. If we do this, people will see how we walk and act, as we will shine among the rest, and standout as glowing examples of Gods love. Little by little people will follow and be influenced, and one step, one day, one person, at a time, we will begin righting this ship and bringing it back to God, as it was always meant to be.
God Bless America…Let’s all pitch in and help America Bless God again !!!