Article VI Blog

"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

United States Constitution — Article VI:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

  • And So It Begins

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:38 am, November 22nd 2013     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    This weeks editorial page of the Wall Street Journal featured op-eds from Marco Rubio and Scott Walker, chronologically ordered.  Make no mistake, these are two men testing the waters for potential national leadership of the party and the government.  This is how it starts.  It is upon us. Read these pieces carefully, and those that follow from other possibles.  The decisions before the party and the electorate in ’14 and ’16 are of more importance than any that have been taken since WWII.

    This is no time to choose lightly.

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    The Deep Crisis We Face

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:32 am, July 8th 2013     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Hugh Hewitt informally kicks off the 2016 presidential race:

    The HH Line is mine and mine alone.  I don’t use polling, the RCP “poll of polls” or Nate Silver’s analysis of polling.  I don’t even have the primary schedule down yet as the RNC hasn’t yet even given us a glimpse of the revamp possibilities, though moving the actual nominating convention up until June 2016 seems likely.

    So this is the three-years out, back-of-the-pants “feel” for the odds on a variety of potential candidates’ chances to succeed in any bid they may mount for the GOP nomination against the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination, former Secretary of State Clinton.

    I saw Hewitt’s reasonable odds and the first thought that ran through my mind was that “2016 is about so much more than the candidate.”  At Townhall over the weekend, Carol Platt Liebau asked:

    Although some kinds of metadata collection is necessary for national security purposes, is there any assurance that personal information collected by these companies (and others) didn’t find flow to the Obama campaign, either known or unbeknownst to the company’s leaders?  Those who are outraged by personal information (or even metadata) being collected and used for national security without people’s consent should be even angrier if intrusions occurred — not for a public benefit — but for the President’s partisan gain.

    At RCP, Paul Roderick Gregory riffs off of James Taranto and Peggy Noonan to give this administration an asterisk.  But here is the problem.  Unlike when sports records get an asterisk, the sport can simply move on.  Roger Maris did not leave baseball in shambles.  This administration is leaving the nation in shambles.  The next president HAS to fix things.  Any of the top 5 in the Hewitt line of candidates are capable of fixing things – presuming the nation really wants to be fixed.  And that presumption is the key to everything.

    Ronald Reagan’s much vaunted magic was not his – it was ours.  He had a nation that desired, deeply, to crawl out of the trail of muck created by Nixon and Carter, all he had to do was get the horses pulling together.  Right now, I have the feeling we are looking for a candidate that will bring a whole new team of horses with him while we act like a bunch of teams harnessed to a central point and all pulling away from that point in different directions.

    We need to begin to organize ourselves to some point before any candidate will be able finish the job and get elected, let alone accomplish that which so needs to be accomplished.

    The place to start, from my viewpoint, is for those of us of faith to come to a deep and real understanding of how that faith interacts with American politics.  We have to come to understand that politics follows culture, it does not lead it.  If we want a different culture, that’s up to us – makes no difference who is in power – WE HOLD THAT POWER.  We have to understand that political choices are not dogmatic doctrinal choices.  (There are exceptions, but they are few and far between.)  We cannot let the best be the enemy of the better.  We have to understand that the forces of American politics and myriad and almost never linear.  Despite the press’ best efforts to simplify things, there generally is not direct cause and effect in the big picture.  We have to understand that our religious foe may very well be our best political ally.

    This nation faces a deep crisis.  The very core nature of the nation is being challenged.  This next election is not about who we elect president – it’s about us and who and what we want to be as a nation.  We can worry our religion to death, but unless we return the nation to that which it was conceived to be, our right to worry that religion to death may just be severely curtailed, if not taken from us wholly.  Before you decide who to support in 2016, decide what you want the nation to be and get very busy making that happen.  You do that and the question of who to support in 2016 will likely answer itself.

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    Posted in Culture Wars, Doctrinal Obedience, Electability, Evangelical Shortcomings, Social/Religious Trends, The Way Forward | Comment on this post » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Like A Phoenix From The Ashes

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:50 am, October 28th 2012     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    In 2008, Evangelicals, particularly from western Iowa, pretty much cost Mitt Romney the Republican nomination for the presidency.  And yet, yesterday the Editorial Board of the Des Moines Register, the biggest journalistic voice in that state,  endorsed Mitt Romney for the 2012 general election now less than 10 days away.  This marks the first time in 40 years that the paper has backed a Republican.

    Newspaper endorsements do not matter like they used to, but they do matter, and this one is huge.  The signs continue to mount that Mitt Romney has captured, fully, the Evangelical vote.  The Catholic Bishops are coming dangerously close to outright endorsing him, so the Catholic vote is seemingly his as well.  That is quite possibly an unbeatable combination.  Once again we see evidence that Barack Obama thinks the world thinks like he does.  I don’t think he realized that for many of us, faith matters deeply and predominantly.

    CNN is recycling an old story, by their own admission, about Romney’s “faith journey.”  There is a sort of “at a distance” about the story that simply rings hollow to the believer of any stripe.  Faith is not a demographic, and identity, nor a mere affiliation.  It is something much deeper, something that we seek to allow to change us fundamentally – to make us better and to allow us to rise above our base desires.  But then the press has not “gotten” deep, committed faith for quite some time.

    I am not sure Obama understood this either as he began his assault on religious conscience and freedom.  I have to believe he thought most people of faith would just shrug their shoulders, as he obviously did when listing to the rants and “God Damn America’s” of Jeremiah Wright, because in his mind faith was just a box we tick off on Sunday.

    It may be without historical precedent that an incumbent candidate for the presidency has so profoundly misunderstood the American people.  We will probably never know whether he was intentionally not listening or simply lacked the mental capacity to hear.  And the possibility remains, though it is shrinking, that he may yet prevail.  But it is now clear that were that unlikely event to occur, that like the first time, it would not be because he represents the will of the American people.  It would be because he capitalized on an extraneous set of circumstances that made the election about something other than what really matters most to most Americans.

    But that is not the “big picture” I am getting.  I am getting a picture of Mitt Romney, rising from the Iowa that rejected him some four years ago, becoming the next President of the United States and unleashing the natural forces that have made this nation uniquely great in the history of nations.

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    Posted in Candidate Qualifications, character, Electability, Governance, Political Strategy | Comment on this post » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Where We are Now

    Posted by: JMReynolds at 03:54 pm, October 8th 2012     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    From the start of year I have argued:

    First, an incumbent President of the United States is hard to beat. He will appear to be winning for most of the year, even if he is going to lose.

    Second, the economy dooms President Obama if the GOP nominated a centrist or plausible candidate (such as Mr. Romney).

    I have consistently argued the race would be 51/2- 48/7 in favor of Mr. Romney. Polling does not capture historic trends. Most Americans feel the country is going in the wrong direction. They want change. They liked Mr. Obama, but like him less now and have not approved of his job performance until things got very partisan. (I take favorability most seriously in the spring as it is less jerked about by ads and campaigning. Obama was plainly upside down then.)

    Romney defeated the President in the last debate in what I called (that night) the worst defeat I have ever seen between two well matched foes. Ask Mr. Gingrich (who sharpened Mr. Romney) what happens when Romney prepares.

    So where are we today?

    Mr. Romney is winning, as he has been from the start, but he can still lose. He needs Mr. Ryan to avoid gaffes. He does not need need Mr. Ryan to win. Biden is underestimated as a debater, Slow Joe can bring it if he wishes. Mr. Ryan is too smart to be “Quayled” and so the Veep debate will be a wash.

    If Mr. Biden loses badly, as is possible if he is in his gaffe-tastic mode, then Mr. Obama is in big trouble.

    The Town Hall debate should be good for Obama, but also not the sort of event that changes many things. In fact, it gives Mr. Romney a chance to be empathetic but strong. I don’t see the format helping Obama take Romney down.

    Foreign policy should be good for Mr. Obama (given Bin Laden), but the Libya mess makes that less obvious.

    The money should be even . . .itself a disaster for Obama given 2008 and enthusiasm is with Mr. Romney.

    And so this election remains Mr. Romney’s to lose. He still might.

    Two further facts the media is not reporting:

    Evangelicals are overwhelmingly for Romney. Young Evangelicals are overwhelmingly for Romney.

    You would have known both things if you read my compatriots here . . .

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    Pathetic, Really

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:17 am, September 7th 2012     &mdash      6 Comments »

    I will not bother to recount or critique Obama’s acceptance speech last night, I’ll leave that up to friends Hugh Hewitt and Jim Geraghty.  “Been there, done that,” seems to the the sentiment amongst all but the unthinking die-hards.  Leaves me wondering if Obama has figured out he is in over his head and really does not want to do it again.

    I will make one comment.  Check out this observation from WaPo blogger Robert P. Jones:

    Obama made his entrance to the national stage with a speech at the 2004 Democratic national convention that was full of religious language, such as traditional biblical allusions (“It is that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work”) and references to contemporary Christian music (“we worship an awesome God in the blue states”). This speech was also remarkable because it broke through at a time when the “values voters” movement was on the rise and Democrats were being lambasted for being perceived as unfriendly to religion.

    Check the test of the speech from last night.  You will find no such rhetoric.  Is it any wonder they had to work so hard to correct the “oversight” concerning the inclusion of “God” in the platform?  CNN is trying to help them out of the fiasco, but as John Hinderaker says:

    The Democrats, bluntly put, have become the party of those who don’t go to church.

    Which leaves David French wondering, “Wither the Pro-Obama Evangelical?”

    War, poverty, unemployment, and abortion? That wasn’t supposed to be the deal. Expect to see Mitt Romney’s share of the evangelical vote match or exceed President Bush’s in 2004.

    He’s right – at least for those whose faith is deep and not merely convenient.  I think Kathryn Jean Lopez summed it up best in a single sentence yesterday:

    If this administration didn’t treat religious liberty as something government grants rather than robustly protects, I wouldn’t be so worried . . .

    That does; however, describe the point where this all stops being pathetic and starts being scary.  They really do act that way, which is of course the kind of attitude that leads to extra-constitutional power grabs and legislative action rammed down the throat of a clearly disagreeing public.  But in light of Obama’s “mail it in” approach to his speech last night, I wonder if they are out of energy for such shenanigans?  I wonder if the sheer weight of fighting against the will of the populace has not simply worn them out?  Ruling as king is a lot harder than serving as president.

    But on the bright side, if you’re a Dem, you can most certainly rely on the home-brewers vote:

    One of the oldest political cliches states that people vote for the person they would most like to have a beer with – and Mr Obama’s rival in the November election, Mitt Romney, a Mormon, does not drink.

    That officially hits the books as the longest reach for a Mormon shot in the history of Romney seeking national office.  BTW, I’ve had a conversation with Mitt Romney with a drink in my hand – I’d say it’s about the same as having a conversation without a drink in my hand – either way, a pleasant experience.

    And back to pathetic, yesterday Glenn Beck dedicated his online TV show to discussing Mormonism:

    He ultimately decided to take on the issue after growing frustrated with the “intentional vilification and political grandstanding” he sees being aimed at his faith, and the attention being given to “jaded ex-members brought on as experts to speak about what they never truly understood.”

    Uh-huh, or maybe the money flow from on-line broadcasting just ain’t what he expected and the topic is really, really hot.  When was the last time you saw press articles on what the topic of Beck’s show was going to be?  Smells like a plug push to me.

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    Posted in Candidate Qualifications, Electability, Political Strategy, Reading List, Religious Freedom | 6 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Thank you, Mr. Romney

    Posted by: JMReynolds at 10:48 am, August 28th 2012     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Mr. Romney will soon be the nominee of my party, an honor that eluded him four years ago and that his father never achieved.

    Outsiders think of running for President of the United States as a glamorous job, but Mr. Romney surely has given up more so far than he has gotten from the Grand Old Party.

    First, Mr. Romney did not need to run for office to have a good life. He is at the age when men in his position think of retiring. He is a wealthy, healthy man that turned his attention to public service following the example of his father and the Father of our Country: George Washington. This is surely a commendable thing.

    Second, Mr. Romney’s immediate award for service was abuse. President Obama and former President George W. Bush were examples of the kind of abuse he could expect. Mr. Obama has been denied his birthplace, been the subject of racist attacks, and called “antichrist.” Mr. Bush was compared to Hitler, had his faith questioned, and was compared to a chimp. Mr. Romney knew that he would go from collecting philanthropic awards at adoring “roasts” to this sort of attack.

    In a Republic, this is not altogether unhealthy, we put no trust in princes, but a successful man cannot enjoy it.

    Third, Romney picked Mr. Ryan as his force presidential level appointment. He picked a man to help him govern and not just to win an election. Mr. Romney is a leader unafraid of strong people who might overshadow him. Like William McKinley with Theodore Roosevelt, Mr. Romney was aware of the fact that many delegates and voters will prefer Mr. Ryan to him, but Romney has the self-confidence to know if he wins, then he will be President.

    By picking Ryan, Mr. Romney presents Americans with a real choice in this election.

    Fourth, I am thankful that as we have learned about Mr. Romney’s finances, we have been set an example of generosity. From classical times, a good leader was expected to be magnanimous. Romney is. He reminds me to do better.

    Finally, Mr. Romney has forced me to learn more about his church. He knew the hostility and bigotry that Mormons have historically faced. Americans murdered the founder of his faith, after all. And yet, he has been a nearly-perfect representative of how a good American negotiates the tension between faith and patriotism. He has spoken eloquently and well on faith and government in a way far superior to President Kennedy.

    He hasn’t left his Mormon values at the voting booth door. He is forcing American bigots to stop standing in front of the door of the White House.

    Whatever the outcome, Mr. Romney is running a race that should Americans proud that he will be honored with the same nomination as Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Reagan.

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