Coalition Politics, Anyone?

The estimate that it is mathematically impossible that anyone become the clear leader in their party’s Presidential nomination race after Super Tuesday may or may not be right.

In 2000, I can remember Dick Morris confidently predicting that it was impossible for the popular vote to go one way and the electoral vote to go another.  But that’s exactly what happened.  The focus ended up on Florida (because the popular vote was so close) and to a lesser extent Tennessee (because Al Gore ignominously lost his own home state.)  But the reality is that the Electoral College favours the small states because they count two votes for the Senate seats for each state, and George Bush won more small states.  Since their popular votes are more heaving weighted in the Electoral College, they negated the 500,000 vote plurality that Al Gore had, so George Bush became President.

So much for impossibilities…

The Democrats have a better chance at getting a clear leader because there are fewer "viable" candidates in the race.  The major variables are related to the volatility of the electorate, both the voters in the primaries and caucuses and the superdelegates.

The Republicans, with their Cecil B. DeMille movie of a field (a little smaller since Fred Thompson threw in the towel) not only face the prospect of no clear winner after Super Tuesday, but also of not obtaining one when the primaries and caucuses are finished.  This could lead to something that is beyond the living memory of much of the American electorate: a brokered convention, with the wheeling and dealing in formerly smoke filled rooms.  Most recent party conventions have been staged media events (and not very strong ones at that,) but in the past conventions were exciting news.  Perhaps we will see this again.

There are two lessons to this.

The first is that our system and mentality is ill-suited for any form of coalition or brokered politics, even though in some ways such a system is the best way to avoid the rigid polarisation that has dominated American political life for so long.  No one is really looking for this kind of result, although it is very possible, especially for the Republicans, who unfortunately have become too much ideological purists to make the most of such a situation.

The second is a piece of advice, especially for the Republicans: quit basing your voting decision on who you think will win and just vote your preference.  If a clear winner comes out of Super Tuesday, fine; if not, all the money spent on the Convention won’t be such a waste.  Your candidate can use your support as leverage for your position whether or not he gets the nomination.

Why the Solid South Went Democrat

A little while back I posted an excerpt from Fourth of July speech in Houma, Louisiana, in 1911, about “warm receptions.”  That speech was just one of four given at that interesting occasion; another one was given by the Hon. Gabriel Montegut.  After a lengthy dissertation about Louisiana history, Montegut launched into an interesting subject: the aftermath of the Civil War and Reconstruction, both of which were still living memories in 1911.

With the “red state/blue state” dialectic, many have forgotten that, for nearly a century, the “Solid South” was solidly Democrat.  The Southern base was essential for the eventual triumph of Franklin Roosevelt and the Democrat domination of American politics in the mid-twentieth century.  How did this happen?  Montegut—a fervent Democrat as we’ll see—gives the reasoning that was fairly common amongst Southern Democrats for many years.

Note: long-time readers of this site will know that I take a jaundiced view of a lot of Southern mythology, as should be evident from my piece To Do The Work.   With that in mind, let’s join Mr. Montegut:

It is not necessary for a Southern gentleman to say much on the subject of social equality to be understood.  Referring to all the rot continually dinned in our ears by these marplots, I have but a few words to say, but I wish to say them in such a pointed manner that, “he who runs,” can read my views on the subject.  I only regret that, in my vocabulary, I cannot find words adequate to fully express my loathing and contempt for any man who calls himself a white man, whose heart beats seventy-two pulsations to the minute, who can unsheathe a dagger, draw a sword from its scabbard, and pull the trigger of a gun, and yet be so emasculated and wither in to such a pygmy as to fear for one moment, his inability to uphold the dignity of his own standard.

Grant, by the eternal Gods, Grant with his Federal bayonets, could not maintain the Negro domination in the South.  This remark brings us back to reconstruction days.  Our National quarrel was left to the arbitrament of war, and it was settled at Appomattox.  The South accepted the result in good faith, and if I refer to conditions immediately subsequent thereto, it is with neither desire nor intention to open up old sores, (no man of honour would do so,) but simply because some reference to that period, cannot be avoided in this discussion.  As I said before slavery was wrong, and emancipation was right.  But a great crime was committed by the dominant Republican party when they hastily vested millions of ignorant Negroes in the South, with the right to vote, instead of fixing a reasonable probation to prepare and qualify them for the exercise of that sacred right which Wm. M. Seward, the great Republican statesman, said was the crowning franchise of the American people.  They sowed the wind and the Nation has been reaping the whirlwind.  Abe Lincoln would have quarrelled with the entire Republican party, before he would have consented to so humiliate a brave and fallen foe.  That one political crime, committed I hope more in error for political expediency, and with less malice than we have often thought, was the cause of all our woes and tribulations.  It brought down upon the South a horde of unscrupulous carpetbaggers and adventurers, whose only motive was to enrich themselves upon our misfortunes.  They organised the Negroes, and at every election hurled that black mass of ignorance against our civilisation.  The saturnalia of corruption and misrule that existed in the South during those troublous times, no pen can describe.  A few conservative Republicans, including some coloured leaders who were just beginning to open their eyes, were themselves appalled.  Henry Clay Warmouth, the Republican governor of Louisiana, in the memorable Fusion Campaign of 1872, cried aloud and said that to save his life he could not stem the tide of corruption that had set in the Republican party in the State of Louisiana.

We stood our ills with patience and fortitude.  A day came when we were at the wall, and could go no further.  For years we talked and preached to, and argued with the Negro,–all to no avail.  He was loyal to Lincoln, loyal to the core.  He would listen to us patiently, and when we were through his only answer was, “Boss, Boss, ask me anything and I will do it for you,–but I can’t vote for you.”  He voted the Republican ticket because he thought he was paying them back for what he had received from them, his liberty,–and liberty is sweet.  He irritated us, God knows he did, but way down in our hearts we admired his loyalty.  We realised that he was a victim of a horde of white scoundrels and some miserable wretches among his own people.  He voted the Republican ticket because he thought he was voting for Lincoln, just as the mountaineers in Tennessee are still voting for “Old Hickory.”  He was loyal to Lincoln, just as he was loyal to us, when we went in the Confederate Army, and left mother and sister, wife and children in his charge.  We gave him up in despair only when we got to the wall.  The crisis came and we had it to meet.  It was then that the spirit of the Old South asserted itself, and Southern heroes and patriots rose to the demand of the occasion…They concluded that the only remedy left was to shoot to kill,–and they did so…They then called a halt.  For no consideration on earth, would they have stained their hands of honour of Louisiana with one drop of blood unnecessarily.  Any one of them could organise a revolution, but not one of them would lead a cowardly, murderous mob of lynchers.

The Negro quieted down in his ignorance.  The men of the Old South were above holding his responsible for the trouble.  They renewed their old attachment for him and redoubled their kindness.  Ah, those were troublous times…

The summary of this is simple: it was the backwash from Reconstruction, or the way the Republicans handled it after Lincoln’s assassination, that put a century of enmity between white Southerners and the Republican party, and a century of loyalty to the Democrat one.  That loyalty began to end in the 1960’s, just as the loyalty of re-enfranchised black voters entirely reversed itself to the Democrats.

And that is an unfortunate result of the whole quest for equality.  Martin Luther King enunciated a vision where all of God’s children could live and grow together, but instead of ending the apartheid the left took the easy way out and fell back on racial identity politics.  They simply inverted the division rather than getting rid of it.

And that inversion is the central reason why the Democrat party—the party of “equality”—is having such a hard time nominating a “black” man like Barack Obama for President.  Too many people have been conditioned to see themselves as the member of a group, and the person with the largest group gets to win, just as was the case in the reconstructed South.

Montegut goes on to an extended elegy about the Democrat party, a small part of which is as follows:

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty;–liberty is the offspring of Democracy, and the Democratic party is the sentinel of the Watch Tower of liberty and civilisation…

The Democratic party is indestructible, because it is the party of humanity and good will to all, and was created to vindicate, uphold and defend human rights and liberty; it is indestructible because it is the bulwark of constitutional liberty and is founded on God like principles.

Democracy and liberty, Democracy and Christianity, Democracy and chivalry walk hand in hand and as long as one lives the other cannot perish. Democracy was established on earth by Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour, and its immortal principle is embodied in his “Sermon on the Mount…”

In political economy the policy of the Democratic party has always been broad and firm, but never arbitrary, upholding always that the tax that each individual is bound to and must pay, as his contribution toward the support of his government, must be certain, but just and proportionate, and its assessment and manner of payment must be so fixed as to meet as nearly as possible the best convenience of the tax contributor…

Bet the secularists will run for cover at this one!

When Hebrew Blessing Meets Irish Blessing

Readers of the Scriptures are familiar with the many blessings that appear in the Bible, especially those in the Old Testament.  Many Celts and the fans thereof are familiar with the blessings that the Irish come up with.  But what if the two could be combined?  Jim Cowan and Emmanuel do just that in the song Psalm 128, which places a Hebrew song in a decidedly Celtic setting, sung by a good Irish tenor.  This song is this week’s podcast, and the rest of the magnificent album it’s taken from, In the Beauty of His Holiness, can be downloaded from The Ancient Star Song.

A Song of degrees. Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.
For thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.
The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel. (Psalms 128:1-6)

A special treat and message for our friends in Israel, who could use one these days.

Note: Jim Cowan went on to direct the group Emmanual at the University of Steubenville; more information on those albums is here.  He is still active as the Director of Music at St. Dominic Catholic Church in Panama City, Florida.   His website is here.

We Like a Good Fight Down Here

Last year, when going back and forth with the combative Russell Earl Kelly, I made the following comment:

When I look at Dr. Kelly’s website and admire the long list of Christian preachers he refutes, a line from the "John Boy and Billy Show" comes to mind: "We like a good fight down here."  That’s what I thought when I saw his original comment.

Looks like it’s just the way of the Old Confederacy, as Bill Clinton reminds us:

Ex-President Bill Clinton, stumping in South Carolina Tuesday in his wife’s stead while she campaigned in the West, suggested Democrats wringing their hands over the rancor should lighten up.

"I know you think it’s crazy, but I kind of like to see Barack and Hillary fight," he said lightheartedly. "They’re flesh-and- blood people and they have their differences – let ’em at it."

And he’ll put on the rhetorical gloves when he thinks he needs to as well:

Bill Clinton’s performance in his interview with Chris Wallace reminded me too much of some of the things I used to see during union meetings in my old family business. All too often, when the grievance filed didn’t have the merit they thought it had, at least one on the committee would blow up in front of us.

Clinton is a product of a “working man’s” background in Arkansas. I am too close to this for my own good; not too far north of where he grew up, my grandfather worked for the railroad for 44 years. I know a hothead when I see one, and watching him berate Chris Wallace I saw one who knew he was in trouble and whose only hope was to turn the tables by shoving emotion into Wallace’s face.

You’re Either For Us Or Against Us

The hue and cry by the GLBT community’s leadership to eject Dr. Joel Edwards from the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission is all too predictable.  The secularists have already whined about his presence on the Commission.  But the complaining is based on a simple concept: if you don’t embrace our agenda, we don’t want you at all in any meaningful place in society, irrespective of the fact that you try to be even-handed or represent a viewpoint that’s "out there" in society.

Put another way, you’re either for us or against us.  But didn’t liberals here gripe about that kind of thinking when George W. Bush enunciated it concerning terrorists?  Maybe they play by different rules in the UK.  Maybe not.

Hmmm…

The Most Important Issue of All

Roger Cohen has hit upon an most important issue for American presidents, both the one we have and the one we’re trying to elect:

A weak dollar, outsized personal debt, a massive current account deficit, cash-strapped banks and Asian governments purchasing U.S. Treasury bonds to finance the national debt are not signs of American strength. Nor are they necessarily signs of American decline, because inherent U.S. vitality remains enormous.

But as Benn Steil, an economist at the Council on Foreign Relations, suggested: "We could be seeing a secular shift in confidence in the dollar as a store of value as the impression grows that the United States, to some degree, is losing control of its destiny."

Well, sort of.

The thing he missed was what is really the most important issue of all: the preservation of American dollar hegemony.

Dollar hegemony, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, is the phenomenon whereby the status of the dollar as the world’s premier reserve currency affords the greenback "privileges" that other currencies lack.  The best example is the long-running trade deficit.  Since we owe this deficit in our own currency, the impact on our economy is diminished, because we, in an indirect sense, owe ourselves the debt.

The Fed’s overriding concern for the health of financial institutions and the people that run them over the needs for a stable currency–which has driven the recent interest rate cuts–will further devalue the currency by accelerating the flight of capital into currencies and commodities that afford a better return, be that return in value gain or interest yield.  The more this happens, the more dollar hegemony erodes, and the more "real" our indebtedness–public, corporate and personal–becomes.

Once dollar hegemony recedes, we will indeed lose control of our destiny.  And Americans are not mentally prepared to deal with others as equals.  Yes, we have a lot of vitality, but that, like dollar hegemony, can be squandered in overconfidence.

To Leave is to Die a Little

Robert Easter’s lamenting of the backwash of departing from the Episcopal Church has some merit:

I’m not saying everyone needs to stay in "TEC," because many people who have been in it for any amount of time are probably too conditioned by the milieu to stand up against it or ask the hard questions. But neither do I dare go with a popular, "Come ye out from among them" cry. There are people who need to understand the Truth of the whole Gospel, and we, each, need to get hold of just what that Gospel is, seek the Lord to fill and sanctify us by His Spirit, and carry that Gospel forth. Even to the end of the world, even to the Episcopalians. And be aware that though we reject the sins of those who are the current "poster children" of the Left, we deal with their sins never with anger or disgust, but with tears!

There are two things that I try to keep in front to me when considering the whole Anglican/Episcopal mess:

  1. Orthodox Episcopalians on the whole waited too long to take action to preserve a church consistent with real Biblical Christianity.
  2. They then picked the wrong issue to break over.  This is related to (1).  The whole business of homosexuals in the pews and at the altar is an important one, as I made clear in my reply to Susan Russell.  But when you allow bishops and other clergy (such as James Pike) to openly deny the basics of Christianity such as the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the inspiration of the Scriptures and the like, you can only expect the results we’ve seen in the last two score to take place.

Having said all that, Easter makes a good point in showing that, every time you have a split, you lose something:

When the East and West divided 955 years ago the East got the music and the West got the prose (so to speak). When Leo chased off Martin about 490 years ago Leo kept the form and Martin the function. Zwingli and his followers then added an extra touch of humanism and started the trend in earnest of stripping away everything that didn’t look like "church" at the moment to children of that moment. Every time there is a division in the Church each side comes away with part of the Message and leaves part with the other folks. A good, recent, example would be the splits in the earlier 20th Century over the "Social Gospel" question. The "Evangelicals" who saw evangelism as the Big Thing spent over fifty years refusing to do any practical good for the lost for fear of being like the "Socials" who, in turn, still tend to consider "evangelism" as an ugly word.

Any time you have a split or departure of any kind–be it a church split, a divorce, or whatever–you lose something.  Things get split up between the parties, things that were unified before.  Something always gets lost.  In my prep school French class, there was a saying on the wall: "Partir, c’est mourir un peu."  To leave is to die a little.  That always happens in a departure, and that includes leaving a church.

The whole objective of leaving one church for another–irrespective of whether that departure is individual or corporate–must be to help safeguard the eternal destiny of those involved, and to help those who are leaving lead others to that same saving knowledge.  (Hint–a church that doesn’t believe in a differentiated eternity won’t work to change the destinies of its members or others.)  That’s something we must do as Christians, because that pain of missing the view of the tree that grows in heaven is infinitely worse than what we lose in a church departure or split.  But that doesn’t mean that we need to be so triumphalistic about our departure.  Having left a few churches in my time, I have come to realise that church changes such as this are a necessity.  It’s something we have to do. But we shouldn’t be blind to the reality that something does get lost in the process.

If She Has Foreign Friends, So Should We

Dick Morris’ reminder of the support from foreign sources that the Clintons have received over the years isn’t particularly earthshaking.  It isn’t really news; their dealings with the Chinese were well known when they occupied 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  It doesn’t paint a pretty picture of the role of foreign influence in another Clinton administration.  The question is, what should we do?  (By we, I’m thinking about Christians.)

There’s no doubt that another Clinton administration will witness an onslaught on Evangelical Christianity, including broad attacks by the IRS, an attempt to undermine or eliminate home (and possibly Christian) schooling, and very broad hate crimes legislation such as is administered in Canada.  Evangelical Christians cannot afford to fight back by the usual "taking a stand" and wrapping themselves in the flag, as they are wont to do now.  Every federal courthouse and prison has a U.S. flag flying over it.  The core problem for any kind of conservative in a left-wing administration is that it inverts their whole concept of country.  For Christians, "God and country" may quickly become "God or country."

A part of any solution lies in the out of country connections that they can develop.  These are already taking place.  The Anglicans are busy creating a network (of sorts) of churches with offshore headship.  Other denominations and para-church ministries should look at the same thing; after all, most denominations of any size have more members outside of the U.S. than in, and that includes availing themselves of the joy of offshore financial resources.  Christians of many kinds are seriously conflicted on illegal immigration; there are too many people coming into this country illegally who come to the Lord to pass up.

The Federal government cannot expect its citizens to remain blindly patriotic when its leaders succumb to influence and many times outright bribery from foreign governments and sources.  (It will try, though.)  A government which expects its citizens to revere its sovereignty but compromises it on a higher level can’t expect to maintain its credibility indefinitely.  Beyond that, a country whose moneyed and chattering classes "run the aisles" when the Saudis and others bail out its central financial institutions will create a climate of "cognitive dissonance" within the nation that will come back to haunt it.
If we end up saddled with another Clinton administration, we need to look at our options.  If she has foreign friends, we should too.

Message from South Florida: Give ’em the boot!

It should come as no surprise that the message from South Florida Episcopal Bishiop Leo Frade to orthodox Anglicans is simple:

It was with great sadness that I concluded I had no other choice but to vote to move to inhibit two of my brothers (Episcopal bishops of Pittsburgh and San Joaquin) who have betrayed their trust to be faithful shepherds of their dioceses, which are integral parts of our Episcopal Church.

The beauty and flexibility of Anglican polity has allowed since its foundation disparate and disagreeing parties to remain in full communion. It is my sincere hope and prayer that these two bishops, who once pledged of their own free will to engage to remain faithful to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church, will in a spirit of reconciliation choose to fulfill their previous promises.

Translated for the rest of us: give ’em the boot!

In addition to being yet an other telling commentary on the place "where the animals are tame and the people run wild," there are two other issues that bear to be addresssed.

First, one thing that inevitably appears in inhibitions of this type is "abandonment of Communion."  But if these people and dioceses head to another province (with which TEC is supposed to be in "communion" with,) how can that be an "abandonment of Communion?"  Or is this a backhanded admission that TEC is effectively out of the Anglican Communion?

If +KJS and the other revisionist/reappraiser leaders in TEC want to resolve this issue, they either need to a) formally withdraw from the Anglican Communion or b) get Rowan Williams to eject those provinces who are "cutting in" on TEC’s turf.  They can’t have it both ways indefinitely.

Second, he ends his little epistle with the following:

…we in the HOB must do our sad duty to discipline them and move in a timely manner to protect and provide for the many remaining faithful of these dioceses.

Faithful to what?

When Pentecostals and Anglicans Get Together

It’s gratifying to know that this site isn’t the only place where Anglicans and Pentecostals find themselves together, as an Orlando-area church that left Episcopal diocese finds a home in a Pentecostal church.  The Epiphany Celebration Anglican Church, formerly St. Edward’s Episcopal Church, is now worshiping at the Bethel Assembly of God in Mt. Dora, Florida:

After hearing of Epiphany Celebration’s predicament and need of worship space, members there decided to share their humble sanctuary with the newly formed church.

"The deacons thought it was the right thing to do and voted to help them out," said the Rev. Bruce Clark, pastor of Bethel Assembly for the past 25 years. "And every church member has expressed support for the new church."

Epiphany Celebration had its first service at Bethel on Jan. 6 and filled the church to near its 140-person capacity.

"Pastor Clark and his church have given us unconditional grace and hospitality and welcomed us with open arms and doors," Volland said.

The alliance between the two was put in good English understatement by the Anglican rector:

"Our core beliefs are the same," Volland said. "The difference is preference in worship."

Actually, there are common doctrinal antecedents between the two, as I discussed last year in Charismatic Anglicans: The Missing Link:

And this leads us to the centre of our contention: as shocking as it will sound to some, the whole modern Pentecostal-Charismatic movement is the end game of the English Reformation from a purely doctrinal standpoint, if not an institutional or liturgical one.

But there are two other lessons that Anglicans and Pentecostals can learn from each other.

The Pentecostals need to learn the important of constancy of doctrine and belief against the various flavours of revisionists that get into churches.  Up until now Pentecostal churches have been able to avoid a head-on collision with the culture war, but the time for decision will come for us too, and we need to take a a cue from the Anglicans (and hopefully start earlier in the process.)

As for the Anglicans, some simple lessons in hospitality and friendliness would go a long way to helping the nascent Anglican churches of all kinds in North America to grow and be good places to belong.  The Episcopal Church, sad to say, built too much of its pastiche on snob appeal, and that’s reflected in the reputation of Episcopalians as "God’s frozen people."  My years in the Church of God have been in an institution that has the feel of an extended family, and that reflects God’s love for us.  It’s a good feeling, one that Anglicans could make their own and benefit from.