Righteous Dominion

I BELIEVE IN A CONFLICTED AMERICA - JULY 4, 2020

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Being a conservative in 2020 and pleading for a more civil and decent discourse is made very complicated by the Trump phenomenon. Before voting for him in 2016, I voice recorded an apology to my grand kids and future generations for any harm that may come of that vote. I was appalled by how he spoke about women with that Billy Bush video being just one of many stark spotlights. I didn't want my grand kids thinking I condoned that anymore than I would have wanted them to think I condoned Bill Clinton's actions, deception, and treatment of women. I saw the arrogance, name calling, and aggression in Trump and I was worried that he would crave the power too much and cross that line of unrighteous dominion that the Constitution was created to protect against. The ability to resist unrighteous dominion is my most fundamental measure of an elected official. In that recording I told my grand kids: "This is not the kind of personality I want leading us or setting the tone for our nation. But, I only have two choices. And, the other choice is certain to lead to more and more government, and that I cannot choose." So, I plugged my nose and voted for him. I've since been pleasantly surprised and appreciative on some issues, especially as it relates to pushing back the steady advanced of excessive regulation and bigger government. I've seen how he's lived a life of government abusing its power against him. He's pushed back hard like an aggressive New York brawler his whole life. His style as president is just a continuation of that. I personally have a different style of pushing back, but I appreciate the push back. And I can see that sometimes (sadly) no less than his style gets people's attention. Other areas I remain critical, concerned, and cautious. So far, of the two choices I had in 2016, I stand by the one I made, the same one I'll make again in a few months in 2020. He's by far not my first choice. I'm a Reagan Republican and while he had flaws and mistakes too, I long for the dignity, civility, and earnest pursuit of truth, intellectual honesty, and morality he brought to the office. His 1964 "A Time for Choosing" speech and his farewell address resonate deeply with me.

So, while Trump is no Reagan, and while there are certainly many decent, honest, and honorable Democrats, I'll take Trump over most any Democrat simply because the essence of that party's belief system puts more power to government and less to the individual than I believe is the right balance. The Democrat party is pushing farther toward the extreme by embracing people who openly espouse socialism and demand insanely extreme and myopic taxation, redistribution, and environmental policy. To get that, the more extreme among them advance their own version of toxic class and racial divides, etc. Jimmy Carter was perhaps one of the most decent and honorable men to be president even if I disagree with some of his approach to government. Joe Biden doesn't seem all that bad. But this is bigger than just the one person in office. Its also about the massive system that sits behind them and the direction it is headed. Biden has picked an extreme and dangerous running mate. That is very telling about where the Democratic Party is headed and all the more reason it could never work for me. It also tells a lot about where the country is headed. To opposite and extreme directions. AOC embodies that extreme insanity I'm talking about, and Kamala Harris seems to be in that camp. Flip side, while the Democrats grow government by growing the bureaucracy, there are times that I worry Trump is growing the heavy hand of government by growing his office and profile, by not being mindful of the principle of checks and balances, by thinking more like a CEO with broad "do what needs done" authority as opposed to a president of a Constitutional Republic. Trump has taken his part in his own flavor of class and racial divides. I'm acutely aware of the debate that the Republican Party is losing its way and its soul to the negative side of Trumpism. So, there's nothing tidy or noble about me voting for Trump. But, he also has his good days and good moments where he's doing his best to advance patriotism, love of country, love of freedom, and the American spirit of industriousness and progress. I only have one of two choice in November. With all the pros on cons, there's only one where the net tally works for me.

Unfortunately, trying to take a balanced and nuanced view of Trump is pretty untenable in the current political environment. To be anything but totally loyal and adoring of him, unwaveringly supportive of his every action, and his every word, to be critical of him in any way, means the right says you are unpatriotic, a RINO, traitor, or a leftist. On the other hand, to acknowledge anything good he has done means to the left that you are a racist, bigot, white supremacist, immigrant hater, cruel isolationist, that you don't care about the poor, that you hate the environment, that you don't believe in science, and that you stand with the devil incarnate set out to destroy all that is good in the world. Well, to my friends on both the left and the right, sorry, I'm neither of those. I'm a conservative who believes deeply in this nation, the Constitution, the founding principles of liberty and limited government, and I just want to have a thoughtful and truthful dialog about how we govern ourselves and who we choose to lead us.

But, all this fog brings me to put myself in the shoes of my friends on the left. I can see to some degree why at this moment in 2020 people on the left think we on the right are crazy, crass, harsh, and uncaring. If you look at the man we brought through the primaries then put into the white house, especially if you look at the exaggerated, distorted, and often untrue image the media has painted of him, it can be hard to understand why so much of America stands by him. He's brash, harsh, resorts to silly name calling, can be pretty tone deaf, divisive, and doesn't exactly come off as the empathetic bridge builder I wish we had. He's not a great communicator (like Reagan). Yeah, he's got a huge ego. He often stirs things up into controversy that isn't really necessary either by tactical intent or just a basic lack in communications skills. I won't try to defend the more abrasive aspects of his style, tone, or the way he treats some people. He doesn't always bring out the best in either those that support him or those that don't. Yet, I acknowledge and appreciate legitimate advances he has made in pushing back excessive growth of government. Some of that aggressive style is necessary to confront the insane, cutthroat zoo of national politics and the unending push of the far left to pile on more and more government with no concern for the cost to individual liberties. Some of his style concerns me because of the example it sets for younger generations on how to act and lead with dignity. All politicians are pretty flawed and he certainly is. Unfortunately, there are some pretty toxic people on the left that undermine the integrity, intellectual honesty, and dignity I expect in our leaders far more than him. I hear a unified attack from main stream media about Trump being divisive and dishonest. Sometimes they are right. Yet, all too often they really do leave their professionalism and intellectual honesty at the door in order to ride the bandwagon of escalating an exaggerated caricature far beyond the reality of the real Trump. Even when the media is right in its criticism of Trump, the hypocritical problem is they don't attack the high profile people on the left who are even more divisive, insulting, condescending, deceptive, and manipulative with the facts than Trump. When is the last time CNN or MSNBC painted Pelosi, AOC, Kamala Harris, or any other high profile Democrat as a fear mongering monster that distorts truth to stir up hate, resentment, and divisiveness? They don't. Its not okay when Trump does it. But it sure as heck is not okay if they do it, especially if instead of getting called out they are propped up as noble heroes.

So, if we are going to criticize politicians, let's not just single out Trump. There is plenty of call for criticism to go around. We've all been dragging ourselves down this uncivil rat hole for a long time and I don't like where it takes us. That's why my allegiance is NOT to particular people (although there are certainly a few who deserve extra trust and admiration). My allegiance is to God, my country, my family, and PRINCIPLES like freedom, Constitutional limited government, decency, respect, intellectual honesty, equality, and dignity for all. As for all his brash and sometimes caustic tone, I think Trump is a symptom or a reaction to years and years of people who believe in limited government being tired of being called names, tired of being disparaged, tired of being pushed aside, tired of caustic, smug, and condescending people from the left treating us like we are ignorant uneducated idiots while piling on more and more government and more and more of what we see as extreme and irrational solutions all at the expense of our core values and freedoms. Trump isn't the grand saint that some want to think he is. But he certainly is not the devil that he is made out to be either. He's just a guy from New York who is tired of government having too much control over our lives. He brings a huge attitude and huge ego to that that both breaks through the sludge but also can leave quite a mess. A huge percentage of the rest of the country wants to push back on all the crazy stuff they see happening, the march towards socialism, and the loss of freedoms. They have found their voice in him because they thought their voice was being snuffed out. The extreme left has gotten much more toxic, caustic, and extreme. Sadly, it seems to take an aggressive, scrappy street fighter to push back on that. I don't like it. I wish we could do better. But all sides of the debate have gotten us to where we are. This is our reality until we figure out how to pull out of it.

My entire "I Believe in a Conflicted America" post is centered my deep hope that we can get to a place where civil dialog without all the toxic contention is the way to get things done. I will never condone cruel rhetoric or actions from anyone, left or right. But, I can certainly see how Trump is the backlash of years of pent up frustration from decent people who love this country and want to protects its freedoms for their future generations. I do condone pushing back hard on stuff that is extreme, toxic, and destructive and appreciate it when Trump does just that. Some on the right love that in your face, brazen fighter attitude. Many, perhaps most do not, especially not the demeaning aspect of it. I do not. Some of the rough brawler image Trump has is earned and is by his own design. But, he definitely gets repainted and respun in into a lot of things he didn't really say, didn't really do, or really isn't who he is. I used to really rely on CNN as a solid news source. As someone who tries to be honest and critical about the good and the bad with all people, Trump included, I've given up on CNN for blatantly dishonest demonizing of Trump. Now they look more like that silly journalist in Harry Potter, always looking for a lame angle to smear. Criticize him when he deserves it. I do. But, don't make up stuff or spin it out of context to make him into something he's not. This is no free pass for when Trump undermines the dignity his office and this nation deserves. It is just asking us all to be fair and reasonable in seeing the reasons we are where we are and all sides of the issues. So, don't look at who we conservatives elected and think we are crazy, crass, harsh, or uncaring. Try to see where we're coming from, why we're frustrated. And, I pray with all my heart that we can do the same for you instead of defaulting to thinking that you on the left are crazy, idiotic, and out to destroy all we hold dear. We're all so much better than what the "other side" has made us out to be.

 

Pendulum Jail for Morrison

Graphic: The Balanced Pendulum of
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"Still Mine" Movie: The Proper and
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Jason Barney | jason@jasonbarney.com | 480-818-2000 | Back to Pendulum Balance Home Page

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