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Time for Politics

April 29, 2016

barefoot boy

I am not supposed to talk about politics at work. It’s against the rules in a retirement community setting, which is a good thing. Timbercrest is home for 300 people and I know I wouldn’t like it if a bunch of people were politicking in my home.

I also don’t talk about politics from the pulpit. I think few things are less appropriate. The Church is comprised of conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, but we are the Church because of Jesus Christ, not political views. There are precious few enough hours in a year to preach the Gospel and teach disciples. Politics in Church is casting pearls before swine.

But I get asked all the time about my political views. What to do?

My first response is that I am a convinced, conservative Libertarian. By that I mean that I believe in as little federal and state government as possible. I am on the conservative side of Libertarianism. I don’t think the government or its agencies should tell people whether or not they can wear shoes in stores and restaurants (which they don’t, but that’s for another time).

A Timbercrest resident asked me (in front of an entire group of residents) if I’m not scared to death about whether or not Donald Trump will be elected.

I said “No.” Here’s why: I believe the U.S. Constitution is a solid document. I’m not afraid of anyone who’s elected. There are people with whom I disagree, but I’ve been voting for president since 1976 and everyone elected is subject to the Constitution, people I’ve agreed with and people I’ve disagreed with. The checks and balances of the Constitution are strong, whether or not the Supreme Court is held by liberals or conservatives, whether or not the Congress is Republican or Democrat, and no matter who lives in that piece of government housing we call the White House.

Donald Trump – or Donald Duck – would be subject to the Constitution, no matter how hard he, or anyone else, would want to try otherwise. It has been the same for Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama. They’ve all tried to weasel their way into more power and they’ve all been held back by the Constitution. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

Another resident asked me (also in front of an entire group of residents), “Why don’t you like Hillary?”

My response was weak: I said, “I don’t like any of them.” I think the people running for president now are not at all what I look for in a president. About Hillary: It’s not that I don’t like Hillary. She is highly qualified to be president. She has already lived in the White House, she has served time in the Senate, she was Secretary of State. I just don’t trust her. I feel like she’s always talking down to her audiences. I don’t think she means what she says. I think she seems plastic and phony.

I think we got a glimpse of the “real” Hillary when she angrily snapped at the Bernie Sanders voter a few weeks ago. She is repressed in her anger at life in general and I think it shows all over the place, and I don’t like it. I think she would be unpleasant to have at the dinner table and that is one of my criteria for determining a candidate (unlike Bill, whom I think would be a blast.)

I also don’t support Hillary because I don’t think “dynastic politics” are the American Way. I felt that way when George W. ran in 2000. We already had a wealthy Bush under Reagan and in the White House. I was especially against Jeb! for the same reason. The patriots in 1775 rose up against having a political class. Having the same old saws from the same old aristocratic families can only lead to trouble. It’s not just true for the Executive branch: there are too many long-term, worn-out, government welfare check Senators and Representatives. And although the Constitution holds that Supreme Court justices are appointed for life, it seems like they ought to have the decency to retire in a timely fashion.

A government of the people (Lincoln’s words, not the Constitution) ought to have an influx “of the people.” Term limits aren’t in the Constitution, but I think they’re a good idea. And I think someone in Washington (or Indianapolis) who has the best interest of the people in mind, should have the moral fortitude to say, “You know what, I’ve been here 12 years… time to let some fresh blood in.” It works well for both major political parties. New Democrats enliven that side of the aisle as much as new Republicans do their own.

At Hardee’s, another regular asked me (in front of a bunch of other regulars, while I was wearing a Timbercrest sweater-vest), “You’re a pastor… why aren’t you for Cruz?” Hoo-boy… Why do some people think that all Christians, or all pastors, think the same way? Christianity isn’t about stated political beliefs. Christianity is about Jesus Christ. There isn’t really a “Christian” candidate unless the candidate himself or herself is Christian. And I’m not the one to judge that.

What do I want in a presidential candidate?

Here are “Brian’s Five Qualifications for A President,” in no particular order:

First, I want someone who would be comfortable coming to my house for a game of euchre and hamburgers on the grill. I want someone who would show me pictures of their grandchildren or who would change the toilet paper roll if they were the last to use it. I want someone who would like my posts of Facebook or share a meme they thought was funny.

Second, I want someone who would refuse the salary and benefits package. If it is truly “public service,” let them serve. If there were to be a salary, I think it should be the same as the average working American, about $52,000 a year. And like any other job, the benefits should end when the job ends.

Third, I want someone who has not been in government before. I am not convinced that the presidency is any more difficult than what I do every day – there’s just a lot more responsibility. A president needs to know how to make decisions, manage people, and get things done, something most Americans do every day. It doesn’t take a lawyer or former Congressman or other professional government hack to do the job. In fact, I think that the way things have been run by lawyers, former Congressmen, and other government hacks for the last 75 years has left us with a system that is broken and, perhaps, beyond repair.

Fourth, I think the President should be someone of faith. A person of faith understands life in a bigger sense: that God matters and His will and way are good and right. A person of faith would not think they have all the answers, but would look to God, who does. A person of faith would understand the importance of quiet time in the morning, worship in Church on Sundays, and reading the Bible regularly. I think those practices would shape a president’s priorities: He would care more about the poor than the wealthy profiteers. He would want to feed and clothe to hungry and naked rather than bowing to the fashionistas and celebrities. He would seek justice for the oppressed, rather propping up oppressive regimes and institutions. Those are things that are motivated by faith, not a political agenda.

Finally, the President should be someone who understands that his days are numbered: A four year term is only 1460 days. What is realistic to do in 1460 days? The Constitution spells it out: be commander in chief of the armed services, make appointments for the cabinet and Supreme Court, give a report on the state of the Union to Congress every year. That seems like enough. And if they do that well, they should get another 1460 days to do it all again.

As a barefoot man, I hope I haven’t stepped on anyone’s toes, because I certainly don’t want to have mine stepped on. Let me know what you think in the comments below.






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  1. Dear Brian,

    We share a common outlook on politics. I am too a libertarian and believe in as little government as possible (in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity). Here in Russia the current trend is in the opposite direction, but I hope not everything is lost yet.

    May I ask you a question however. When you state that the President should be a person of Faith, do you mean the Christian Faith exclusively, or would you be content with a Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist etc. president?

    • I would prefer a Christian, but I am a Christian and I think in our culture in the U.S., a Christian would be best suited. However, I think Moslems, religious Jews, Buddhists, etc., also have a sense of divine guidance and responsibility to a Supreme Being, which I think is very important to any position, but especially to a president.

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