Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Search for Spiritual Man

Author: Gary Hart

Impeachment or no impeachment, blog life, such as it is, goes on.  But, given the importance of the impeachment question, which will increase as times goes on, the great Moderator in the sky promises to continue to receive and post further thoughts on the subject until and unless it becomes tedious.

In that spirit, may I recall, in a rare burst of self-reference, a talk I gave more than four decades ago at the divinity school from which I had graduated a dozen or more years before but well after I had made the transition from the divine to grubby political humanism.

But not so grubby as to eradicate thoughts on the human spirit.  For the topic had to do with the virtually total focus of politics on what has been called “economic man.”  And the more you think about it, the more that is true.  But what about “spiritual man”?

Public policy in our democracy is cast almost totally in economic terms.  And why not?  Isn’t that what policy about employment (income), housing (shelter), health care (frail body), education (employment), environment (physical world), and so on is.

The fact that our Founders wanted to keep the church separate from the state, and vice versa, did not mean they had no sense of the human spirit and spiritual things in general.  They simply did not want the government, or an established church, telling us what to believe.

And “church” as used here is meant to include at least all the Abrahamic religions.

My divinity school talk these many years ago predated the looming involvement, especially by the evangelical as distinct from the “mainstream” churches, in partisan politics.  Rather than disprove my thesis here, that involvement makes the point.  Much of the evangelical church’s involvement exacerbates political divisions on abortion, judges, and even guns (!) rather than healing the divisions and ministering to the human spirit crushed daily by mistreatment of refugees, homelessness, poverty, destruction of God’s earth, and much else.

The church has a prophetic obligation.  Where are the righteous calls for repentance as an escape from judgment?  Where is the prophet Jeremiah when we need him?  Spiritual man, as contrasted with economic man, needs the prophetic churches, temples, and mosques to rescue our nation from greed, ego, isolation, political warfare, neglect of children, class divisions, destruction of nature, and community fragmentation.

Our Constitution left little if any instruction on the care of the human spirit.  But its authors did believe that this Republic would not long survive, or deserve to, without civic engagement, citizen participation, public virtue that leads to love of country.  In my lexicon, these are part of the human spirit.  Call it national community, civility, or whatever you wish, today it is tattered.

That is what I learned in 8th grade civic class many years ago.  It was revived by the challenge to ask what we could do for our country.  It will struggle on so long as there are even few of us who believe in public service, the commonwealth of virtue, and stewardship for future generations.  Some have called this our secular religion.

These are the qualities of spiritual man and woman.

To Impeach, or Not To Impeach

Author: Gary Hart

Short answer: I don’t know.  But all who care to take a side, please do so.

The argument: to impeach is to appeal to a center and center-left America that is increasingly appalled by Donald Trump’s at best casual acquaintance with the truth, his rude treatment of dependable democratic allies, his persistent obsessions, not least with a dead hero John McCain, his privatization and commercialization of the nation’s natural heritage, his inhuman treatment of refugees, and much else.

More importantly, to impeach is to promote and defend the rule of law, a rule from which the President of the United States is not immune.  To do less is to permit Trump to treat that rule with impunity.

Not to impeach: politically, impeachment plays into Trump’s hands.  It inspires his “base”, brings out that vote and any vote that considers the process merely a political exercise by Democrats.  It will inspire tens of millions of dollars of contributions from right-wing oligarchs.  Pro-impeachment witnesses at impeachment proceedings will restate the obvious arguments listed above and more.  Anti-impeachment witnesses will all say it is a political witch-hunt.

The key audience is about 20% of independent or undecided voters.  Trump is virtually guaranteed 35% of the vote and possibly over 40% if the witch hunt argument by Fox and the White House prevails. Half of the independents could well make the difference, and they could well tilt against a partisan impeachment.

And, as argued here before, a close election is guaranteed to be contested, possibly for months.

What if the moral argument for impeachment based upon accountability and upholding the rule of law prevails and…it ends up getting Trump re-elected.  Small comfort then in saying “we did the right thing.”

This is the dilemma for many of us.  Moral duty versus political reality.

In the beginning, the outcome of the Nixon impeachment process was very much in doubt.  Then Alexander Butterworth revealed the existence of the tapes, and John Dean revealed that he warned Nixon that there was “a cancer on the presidency.”

Led by a young Republican Congressman named William Cohen and a few others who put country before Party—very quaint by today’s standard which places career ahead of country—the partisan dam broke and impeachment became bipartisan.

There is little to no evidence that this would happen today.  And if the impeachment process becomes purely partisan, it will fail.  Thus, Speaker Pelosi’s insistence on uncovering more evidence that might persuade at least a few Republican’s in the House and Senate to bolt.

There has been the hope among many that Special Counsel Robert Mueller would break the partisan dam.  Given conservative discipline, however, there is serious doubt this would lead to Republican defection.  Much would depend on purple State Republican Senators and Congresspersons facing close elections and threatened with defeat for loyalty to Trump.

And Mr. Mueller is not keen to accept that role.  He believes his findings on obstruction of justice speak for themselves.  His report “found multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations.”

Thus, to put it simply, an impeachment effort that is purely partisan may reward the Democratic Party for moral leadership but provide the political reward to the Republicans.

Speaker Pelosi knows this.  Many of her first term colleagues do not.

There are as many policy grounds for impeachment as one can imagine.  Mine have to do with Trump’s decimation of 30 or 40 years of advancement on environmental protection and clean up and a century old effort to build a resource legacy for future generations.

We all know the story, and it is tragic.  Appointment of incompetents and industry lobbyists to key Interior, EPA, and other resource departments.  Total rejection of previous executive orders to protect recreational lands.  Maniacal elimination of any reference to climate change from agency charters and policy standards.  And a wholesale attempt to privatize the commonwealth of public lands and resources which are our legacy to future generations.

If betrayal of the moral duty of stewardship to protect our natural heritage is not a “high crime or misdemeanor”, and therefore impeachable, then I don’t know what is.

Memorial Moment

Author: Gary Hart

Please say a prayer of thanks to all those who have given their lives to protect us

and to say thanks to those who continue to serve out nation.

GH

The Second Civil War

Author: Gary Hart

Here we are on the first Tuesday night in November 2020.  The polls have closed and the Democratic Party nominee has just been declared the next President by all the networks with 49% of the vote to just over 46 % for Donald Trump and the rest for minor candidates.

From the White House, Trump has tweeted: “Networks?  Fugitaboutit!  Fake news.  Always FAKE NEWS.  Attorney General Barr has just called to assure me that there has been massive voter fraud across the country with illegal aliens lined up in every State the other guy won and he is filing law suits challenging the vote count and appealing to the Supreme Court to stay any official declaration of the outcome.  OUTRAGEOUS!  Put on your MAGA hats and take to the streets.”

And the “base” is doing so by the hundreds of thousands, eventually millions, accompanied by heavily armed members of right-wing militias heretofore never heard of.  Massive numbers of shop windows are being broken with baseball bats, protective police barricades are being overrun, and counter-protesters are being run over by fortified jeeps.

Into the night, the president rages on, proclaiming he will never accept the fake outcome of the fake election and calling on Republican members of Congress to join in declaring the election illegitimate.  Many do so.

The president has ordered the Secretary of Defense to place all troops within the United States on high alert and promises to declare a national emergency.  Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff inform the Secretary that most senior combat commanders will refuse to accept his order.

In a late-night meeting, the Board of Governors of the New York Stock Exchange has announced that trading will be suspended until further announcements.

Step back now.  Eighteen months before this night this all seems highly implausible.  Think again.  Donald Trump has already declared publicly that there will be “deep state” efforts to deny him a second term, that there will be massive voter fraud, that Democratic officials across the nation are planning to manipulate the outcome, and that every effort will be made to prevent him from winning.  Expectedly, Fox News has begun this drumbeat.

For the next eighteen months these warnings will be endlessly repeated preparing Trump supporters for any outcome except clear victory.  By election night 2020 they will be seething.

The list of “what ifs” is endless.  In the midst of intertwined lawsuits eight weeks after the election, the president refuses to leave the White House.  Rather than obey a national emergency declaration, the Joint Chiefs of Staff resign en masse.  Career attorneys at the Department of Justice and FBI officials refuse an order to investigate clearly lawful State elections results.  Deep red State legislatures could enact articles of cessation.

This worst-possible-case scenario is not intended to heighten paranoia but to cause thoughtful people to anticipate what could happen in an Administration that has repeatedly demonstrated contempt for the rule of law, precedents and history, and institutions representing the Constitutional backbone of America.  The chaotic 2000 election, decided by one (Supreme Court) vote, represents a precursor.

Given the current leadership of the U.S. Department of Justice, expecting it to unambiguously uphold the legitimacy of the next national election under these circumstances is fraught with peril.  Even if Democrats retain control of the House of Representatives, there will be a stand-off with the Senate.

The fate of the nation and its rule of law principles may well rest with Attorneys General of the respective States and only half of those are Democrats.  Or, as one recent analysis establishes, the decision might rest with one or more State legislatures: “the Constitution puts the power to choose electors squarely in the hands of legislatures. It’s right there in Article II, Section 1, Clause 2. And it says the legislature can do this ‘in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct’.”  Thus, a State legislature has the power under the Constitution to overrule the outcome of the votes in that State.

Constitutional scholars have questioned this interpretation, which to some seems fairly straightforward.

Under a worst-case scenario, the president, probably the Senate, the Attorney General, and the Cabinet could end up on one side and the House and a variety of State Attorneys General could end up on the other.  Or one or more State legislatures could elect the president.

The U.S. Supreme Court, once again possibly by one vote, may be required to steer the nation away from a second Civil War.

 

 

Apocalypse Refocused

Author: Gary Hart

Many if not most of my generation envisioned apocalypse as nuclear.  That threat is still there.  Now, however, it turns out that nature’s survival is threatened by chemicals and the creators of chemicals, mankind itself

In the interim decade or two, science has required us to concentrate on the warming of the climate and the resulting glacier melting, sea levels rising, coastal inundating, crop destroying, inward mass migrations resulting from rising temperatures.

The recent United Nation’s consolidated report, however, broadens this new apocalypse.  Upwards of one million natural species are threatened not only by warming climate but also by habitat destruction, including massive deforestation, expanding urban populations, extensive transportation systems, and general destruction of biodiversity systems more intricate than we could have previously comprehended.

Why did it take even supposedly sophisticated humans to begin to appreciate how intricately interwoven were biological systems, soil that sustained tiny insects that in turn sustained birds and bees, who then spread seeds that grew into plants and trees that are necessary as habitat for a myriad of creatures on land and in seas, and on and on.

We have only recently discovered that we are the beneficiaries of an incredibly complex natural environment that has sustained itself, at least until recently, by…yes…sustaining itself in an almost divinely inspired natural system.

That system, or those many subsystems, now faces its possible elimination from…humanity.  Whether in centralized or capitalistic economic systems, growth was and is the watchword.  The equation is simple: expanding economies accommodate growing populations; growing populations seek opportunity; opportunity is another word for jobs and income, which in turn provide food, shelter, and cell phones.

Oddly enough, the greater the economic opportunity, the smaller the family.  Strangely, provided with opportunity people have fewer children, and limited population expansion may help save the planet.  Except, newly enabled middle-class families become greater consumers, and consumption wipes out the environmental benefits of smaller families.

Politics, especially in an age of populistic nationalism, seems to offer few if any solutions.  Just prior to the nationalistic surge, there seemed some hope with the Paris Accords designed to organize international carbon limits.  But, alas, along came he who shall not be named.

So, now apocalypse grows.  Climate change and stunning biodiversity destruction.  And Western democracy dis-integrating.  Oh, and let’s not forget infectious outbreaks, currently measles, brought on by another round of distrust of science and politics.  You may encounter difficulty finding a seat at your neighborhood bar.  If so, expect churches, synagogues, and mosques to begin filling up.

One of the many human curiosities is the ability, perhaps necessity, to avoid what someone has already labeled the Great Extinction by reminding oneself that he or she will be gone before it actually happens.  I won’t be around so why should I care.  This works, but only if you have no sense of accountability to the next generation, presumably including your own children.

I repeat: how can people of means think only of the financial legacy they leave their children and not the public legacy?  This is a moral flaw of significant proportions.  And it is created by those who think only of personal wealth and not social responsibility.

And, if you have the quixotic goal of making America great again on the backs of everyone else in the world, forget international accords and cooperation…and, by the way, the hope that goes with them.

 

There is very little chance for a return any time soon to good government in the national interest such as we have experienced during the nation’s best days.  Once again, it must be restated that two events have historically brought Americans together: depressions and world wars.

Right now, Republicans have a strong economic tailwind.  And, thank Providence, no epic war looms on the horizon.  So, there is little incentive for a Party in the White House and the Senate to moderate or seek Democratic cooperation.

In fact, Republicans reward office holders and candidates who promise not to cooperate with Democrats.  Given gross gerrymandering and polarization of the nation into red and blue enclaves, the worst fear of those Republicans with even a thought of moderation and bipartisan cooperation is a right-wing challenge within their own State or district.  Witness the march out the door of the handful of Republicans with this instinct.

The struggle within the Democratic Party is over whether a center-left strategy or a more dramatic shift toward a form of socialism, so far defined primarily by taxes on wealth, Medicare for all, and a Green New Deal, is preferable.

The default leader of the Democrats, Speaker Pelosi, is struggling mightily to keep the Democratic agenda from alienating moderate centrist voters without whom national elections cannot be won.

National elections overwhelmingly favor the Party in power when the economy seems to be strong.  Don’t rock the boat, is the underlying theme.

So, the Party controlling the Executive and half the Legislative branches is totally controlled by the Trump/Tea Party legions and riding, at least for the moment, an economic tide.

Which leaves the busload of Democratic Presidential candidates to propose new approaches to health care, affordable education, conservation of natural resources, and prevention of further climate erosion.  All important for the nation’s future.

But what may sway the 2020 election is the bizarre behavior of the chief executive.  Even as 56 percent of polled Americans were pleased with the economy, only 43 percent thought the president was doing a good job.  If swing voters uncouple the economy from overall presidential performance, then the unhinged twitterer-in-chief may become the issue.

But any thought by ardent Democrats that anyone can defeat Mr. Trump should be overwhelmingly discarded.  Righting the ship of state will take experience, statesmanship, gravitas, stature, and trustworthiness.  Not all the many candidates possess this combination of attributes.  The Democratic nominee must be presidential.

That is the standard, not gender, race, ethnicity, geography, finance, or photogenicity.

The nomination prize will be awarded to that candidate who proposes a steady, thoughtful, affordable progress toward universal health care, increased investment in public education and assistance with higher education loans, protection of public lands and resources, and realistic paths toward job opportunities.  Combine those themes with open leadership doors to Congressional Republicans willing to approach half way, restoration of international cooperation on trade, mass migrations, and security, and return of maturity to the White House.

A presidential Democratic candidate will place hard-shell, intransigent Republicans under a harsh spot light.  Resistance for resistance sake to constructive ideas in the national interest will demonstrate once and for all that those who put rigid ideology and power ahead of the common good are the ones who deserve to go home and stay there.

Rethinking American Democracy

Author: Gary Hart

Whatever else happens, and “else” in this case is meant to include a second Trump term, American politics has been altered.  How much and for how long remain to be seen.

Counting the ways confounds comprehension and expands almost daily.  The most obvious, if not also the most profound, is the gap that is becoming a chasm between the Democrats and the Republicans.  There are rare bipartisan legislative efforts, but their rarity illustrates the point.  There have been partisan confrontations in our history, most notably leading to the Civil War.  But ending slavery was epic.  Now there is a partisan divide over virtually everything from judicial and executive appointments, to foreign policy, to trade, to resources, energy, and the environment.

Now the president has declared war on the legislative branch, most notably the House of Representatives.  Principally this involves total resistance to Congressional subpoenas necessary to carry out the Constitutional oversight mandate.  Trump has declared that he alone can decide whether and when to cooperative with a legitimate function of the legislative branch.  This is a giant step toward autocracy and a unilateral denial of the checks and balances system of government bequeathed by our Founders.

The Trump administration has without precedence decided to conduct American foreign policy in secret, most notably where Russia is concerned.  Though it is difficult to imagine, there might be exceptional international security reasons for doing this where the British, French, or Germans are concerned.  But not with a former Cold War competitor and current antagonist.  Such conduct is made many times more suspicious given the hand-in-glove relationship between Trump, Inc. and the Russian government during and after the 2016 national campaign.

Further, Trump foreign policy, like virtually his entire domestic policy, seems to have but one central organizing principle: overturn anything and everything carried out by the preceding Obama administration.  Other than blatant hatred of Barack Obama (because he is a Democrat, or because he is black?), no reason has been given for this massive effort to eradicate any memory of the previous administration.

Then there is the voter suppression campaign, itself propelled by a racial undercurrent.  Under Democratic party leadership in the 20th century, massive national and local efforts have been made throughout the country to encourage much wider-spread voter participation, participation as the foundation of democratic government.  This is democracy in regression, once again a hallmark of autocracies.  We will decide who gets to vote, is the motto.  Despite proclamations to the contrary, wide-spread voter fraud simply does not exist.

This administration now has a cabinet almost totally composed of acting Secretaries.  This avoids embarrassing hearings about lack of qualifications or special interest conflicts even before a Republican Senate.

Further, there is no precedent in modern history of presidential leadership aimed almost exclusively at a particular “base”.  An election, in this case a minority election, produces a president of all the people, not some fans.  In more than two years, and a year before that, there is no instance where the current president personally addressed a cross-section of Americans.  The only possible exception is the Inauguration and one doubts there were very many citizens outside the “base” that bothered to attend that.  Rather, history will categorize the incumbent as the “twitter president”, comfortable only in a cocoon inhabited by his children, current wife, Mar-a-Lago and Sean Hannity.

Having shattered all norms for conducting the presidency, Trump seems perpetually angry that well over half of the American people, save for Fox all the press, and scholars of American history and government find his conduct disgraceful.

And to all this, add disdain for diplomacy, vacant ambassadorships, partisan favoritism in Israel, rejection of the two-state solution, destructive trade tariffs, privatization of the nation’s public resources, attempted privatization of the public school system, subtle support for white nationalism, dismissal of scientific evidence across the board, appointment of lobbyists and industry hacks to positions of public trust, a massive effort to tilt the entire judicial system to the right, obsessive attention to a dysfunctional border wall, and, beyond all that and more, congenital commitment to lying against all evidence to the contrary.

One might fervently wish our nation would return to traditions of pursuit of the national interest, communitarianism, honesty, decency, respect for the opinions of others, collaboration with democratic allies to solve collective problems, stability, humanitarian immigration policies, and integrity in government in the aftermath of Trump.

But there is no guarantee of this.  Instead, one Trump might follow another.  The nation may have made a more or less permanent turn down a different path characterized by all disruptive and unprecedented actions outlined here and much more.

If so, it will not be the America most of us have known and revered throughout our lives and which we have sought to perfect even more.  Despite false leaders, each generation must renew its Constitutional mandate to “seek a more perfect Union.”  Whether we choose to do so is genuinely a test of our patriotism toward the democratic ideal and our nation.

Turning on a Dime

Author: Gary Hart

How do political institutions change directions?  This question obviously arises regarding the Republic Party since 2016.

Since the end of the Cold War, at least, Republicans believed in several immutable fundamentals: balanced budgets; deep suspicion of Russia (and previously the Soviet Union); the “moral majority”; law and order; respect for the military; expanded international trade, among other solid doctrines.

Today, with the exception of “never Trump” Republicans, the Party has exploded deficits, held secret meetings with Russian authorities during and after the 2016 election, fallen in love with a twice divorced President with highly questionable conduct toward women, defied and demeaned domestic law enforcement agencies including the Department of Justice and the FBI, demonstrated contempt for the intelligence services, upset security and economic alliances, cast established trade agreements aside, and generally run rough-shod over the rule of law.

All this amazing transformation in about 24 months.

Did the traditional Republican Party lose its soul?  How can a long-established American political institution make 180 degree turns on so many fundamental beliefs so quickly?  Is there any precedence for this, including in the Democratic Party?

The closest one can come to an answer to the last question might be the embrace of a wide range of civil rights policies by the Democrats in the 1960s that cost the Party the “solid South” and enabled Richard Nixon to turn the South into a Republican stronghold.  That was the only modern realignment even close to the bizarre Republican conversion to the current anti-Republican Party.

Explaining this phenomenon requires a profound scholarly understanding of political institutions and their ability to cast aside overnight established beliefs.  Those of us confused by this virtually unprecedented mass role reversal eagerly await such explanations.  Surely, economic upheaval, including in Germany in the 1930s, offers one explanation.  Except, the American economy has been relatively stable and growing since the Obama years after 2008.

Demagogues in America and in Europe have capitalized on discontent caused by migrations south-to-north to foster pseudo-nationalistic movements.  New social media have offered platforms for demagoguery.  Yet none of this accounts for the Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation of a formerly conservative political party virtually overnight.

It is a mystery awaiting authoritative analysis, discussion, and explanation.

Political pundits, lacking other categories and congenitally committed to established ones, refer to the Trump “base” as conservative.  But that “base” has abandoned traditional conservative principles and is, instead, highly reactionary.  Reaction is the dark side of conservatism when it cannot get its way.

This observation offers one possible explanation, that is that conservatism has been unable to address sweeping global changes, including technology disruptions, mass migrations, and globalization itself.

During the Republican nomination process, Trump, largely through ridicule, marginalized the field of presidential contenders and revealed the confusion and disarray within current conservatism.  He essentially held the previous Republican Party in contempt and opened the door to what Mrs. Clinton unfortunately called “the basket of deplorables” to enter the hallowed halls of traditional conservatism and sack the place.

His coup mimicked the actions of barbarian raiders throughout history and got him to the White House, leaving behind the field of conservative nobility so sorely used.

Once again, however, the speed with which this happened could only have taken place due to considerable long-term undermining of the pillars of conservatism and the Republican Party.

So, today we have the dominant party in the White House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court unmoored from conservative ideology and, at least in the first two branches of government, beholden to reactionary forces.  Those forces are reacting to immigration, international alliances, the emergence of minorities, the rise of women to positions of authority, and to polite society (generally called “elites”) founded on collective respect.

And, on the other end of the political teeter-totter, a Democrat Party in search of new directions in an interesting and colorful array of aspirants.  That is a subject for another discussion, but not one in which the traditional Democratic Party is going to reverse course like the Republican coup of 2016.

[A lovely Passover Remembrance and Buona Pasqua to all: GH]

Judgment Silenced

Author: Gary Hart

What follows seems to be about religion, and especially about the Christian religion, but it is not.  It is about moral leadership.  So please don’t see “religion” and run away saying “enough already about religion.”

The question is why the so-called “mainstream” Christian churches and their leaders seem so quiet in this Trumpian era while “Christianity” seems to be represented in the public square almost exclusively by evangelicals, one tributary of the Christian river.

This is not one of those “I haven’t heard it, therefore it hasn’t happened” arguments.  For all I know, pastors and theologians of various denominations, including but not limited to, Episcopalians, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and many others, are speaking and writing daily either praising or judgmentally condemning Trumpian excesses.

After all, the seminaries and divinity schools across the nation virtually all teach the notion that Christians are called upon to render judgments between good and evil and to provide a prophetic voice, in the lineage of Jeremiah, on secular actions contrary to the Testaments, Old and New.

Religious journals, along with Sunday sermons, are abundant, beyond the ability of a single person to read or listen to them all.  So, once again, the complaint here may be wide of the mark.  But some of us pay close attention to the national dialogue and, in this commentator’s case, find almost nothing from “mainstream” Christian leaders in condemnation of administration’s actions destroying immigrant families, failing to pursue climate protections, ignoring the plight of the poor and homeless, neglecting health care for the needy, and the list is endless.

And if there is a prophetic word said from the pulpits about the Trump era destruction of the earth that God made, the climate life depends on, and the preserved natural heritage he is desperate to give to the commercial interests it is being whispered in the dark.

These are moral issues that transcend the limited focus of evangelicals on abortion and anti-abortion judges.  Rendering moral judgments should not be partisan.  If a Democratic administration were as far outside the American historical tradition as the present one, it should be equally condemned.  And it undoubtedly would be by the now very partisan evangelical movement.

Isn’t it strange how the moral compass can swing in the direction we want it to?  In such cases, the compass is no longer moral; it is partisan.  That is why we have scriptures and religious texts.  To bring the compass back to true North.

But the issue is the seeming silence of mainstream Christianity.  Where are the Isaiahs and Jeremiahs when we need them?  Lots of explanations.  The congregation is politically divided, therefore don’t raise political issues.  But wide divergence from moral Biblical teachings as they affect society require condemnation.  Jesus took a whip to the money changers in the Temple, thereby insuring His fate.

There are deep divisions within Christianity, as there are within Judaism and other religions.  But there are, or at least should be, rock solid truths that require observation regardless of partisan ideologies.  These require the voices of the clergy, the ordained leaders of the faith.

There are prophets who should be praised.  One is Jim Wallis, of Sojourners, who is a true Matthew, chapter 25, Christian.  There surely are others who do not attract the attention of the press covering the evangelical self-promoters flocking in and out of the White House.

I vividly remember the pastor of the most prominent church in which I was raised preaching from the pulpit the Sunday before the 1960 election that “God does not want a Catholic in the White House.”

Had I not been sitting with my wife and her parents, prominent in that denomination, I would have walked out.  And often wished that I had, regardless.  Instead, shortly thereafter I abandoned that denomination.

Where are the prophetic voices of today?  Where is the moral leadership?  Where are the leaders of mainstream Christian churches calling down God’s judgment on a government that has demonstrating it is capable of anything?

Judgment silenced is no judgment at all.

By assuming that the Democratic Party will undertake massive voter fraud in 2020, Donald Trump has unleashed an effort to de-legitimatize the outcome of that election if he and/or his party loses.

His statement last week to the Republican National Committee Conference that all votes must be counted  and “be more paranoid”  20 months from now begins a drumbeat that will be endlessly repeated on Fox News and countless tweets.

This is the latest in an increasing series of presidential efforts to call into question the rule of law and dependability of political institutions upon which our Republic depends.

He wants the “base” to expect an illegitimate election, to consider the process of a national election fraudulent, to accept that one of our two major Parties is corrupt and sinister, that it will bring hoards of illegal aliens to the polls on its behalf, and that, despite all evidence to the contrary, there is every expectation that it will do anything to win.

All this despite also the “hanging chad” fiasco in 2000, the “swift boat” campaign against John Kerry in 2004, the Willie Horton campaign against Mike Dukakis in 1988, the “birther” campaign against Barack Obama virtually throughout his presidency up to and including Trump’s perpetuation of that totally false rumor in 2016.

Other Democratic candidates for the Presidency during this entire period were victims of Republican sponsored “set ups.”

If any Party should know about campaign frauds, it would be the president’s.

All true patriots must be prepared for any eventuality as the next election approaches.  Poll watchers must be seriously trained.  Election lawyers must be identified and deployed at polling stations where mischief might be expected.  State and local election officials must expect efforts at voter intimidation.  Massive challenges to voter identification will surely be used to delay voting in heavily Democratic districts.  And maximum pressure to tilt the vote will occur in so-called “purple” States.

Senior judicial officials should be prepared for court challenges on election day concerning voter qualifications and voter intimidation.

In the words of the old movie: “These are desperate men and they will stop at nothing”

The stakes could not be higher.