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Flake Flakes

As you will have heard, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake announced today that he won’t seek re-election. [1]From his speech to the Senate, in which he eviscerated President Trump:

It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end. In this century, a new phrase has entered the language to describe the accommodation of a new and undesirable order, that phrase being the new normal.

That we must never adjust to the present coarseness of our national dialogue with the tone set up at the top. We must never regard as normal the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country. The personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms and institution, the flagrant disregard for truth and decency.

The reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have been elected to serve. None of these appalling features of our current politics should ever be regarded as normal. We must never allow ourselves to lapse into thinking that that is just the way things are now.

It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative, who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party, the party that has so long defined itself by its belief in those things.

It is also clear to me for the moment that we have given in or given up on the core principles in favor of a more viscerally satisfying anger and resentment. To be clear, the anger and resentment that the people feel at the royal mess that we’ve created are justified. But anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy.

There is an undeniable potency to a populist appeal by mischaracterizing or misunderstanding our problems and giving in to the impulse to scapegoat and belittle — the impulse to scapegoat and belittle threatens to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking people. In the case of the Republican Party, those things also threaten to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking minority party.

We were not made great as a country by indulging in or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorifying in the things that divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake. And we did not become the beacon of freedom in the darkest corners of the world by flouting our institutions and failing to understand just how hard-won and vulnerable they are.

This spell will eventually break. That is my belief. We will return to ourselves once more, and I say the sooner the better.

He said that he will not say and do the things he would have to do to win a second term as a Republican in this environment. Good for him. It’s hard for me to imagine why anybody would want to wade into the Washington swamp now, especially as a Republican, given the repulsive behavior of the president who leads the party. Plus, this:

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Disgusting, all of it. If this keeps up — and really, what would stop it? — men and women of character and capability will run as far as they can from the GOP.

Here’s the thing, though: Jeff Flake’s conservatism deserves to lose. He’s right about Trump’s character, but as I wrote in response to his book [6] a short while back, all he offers is warmed-over Reaganism. If establishment Republicans like Flake had been paying attention, they would have changed with the times, and headed off somebody like Trump. I don’t mean that they should have surrendered their principles, necessarily, but adjusted them to fit the circumstances. Burke himself said that a state without the means of change is without the means of its own conservation. It’s true of a political party, certainly. Political parties are not churches, after all. The problem with the Republican Party and movement conservatism is that it regarded Reaganism as a kind of religion.

Jeff Flake strikes me as an honorable man. But good riddance to his kind of Republican.

That is not an endorsement of Trump by any means. Trump is a cancer consuming the body politic. But I’m with Damon Linker in being fed up with the same old establishment Republican boilerplate. [7] This is precisely correct:

The center-right knows what it believes in, at least at the level of ideals, and it wants and expects the voters to approve of it. But the voters have made clear that they do not. The sensible response to this problem is not to keep stubbornly reaffirming those same rejected beliefs in the misplaced hope that the voters will suddenly come to their senses. It’s to rethink those beliefs, transforming them into something that might have greater popular appeal — or else to retire from the arena, making room for new ideas and new champions.

Bush and McCain delivered a couple of nice speeches last week. But now it’s time for them to go.

Donald Trump is not the answer. But you know what else isn’t the answer? The same old GOP script. I find myself tonight thinking about the reader who posted a comment last night saying that he’s having to work 12-hour days, and on weekends too, just to make ends meet. I happen to know the guy. He’s a middle-aged political and religious conservative, a churchgoing family man. And he’s being ground down by what he rightly calls “the destruction of the middle class.” I don’t know if he voted for Trump or not, but the Republican Party offers him nothing, and he knows that. Doesn’t mean he’s voting Democratic — that party is also a hot mess — but I can well imagine that the respectable rhetoric of a Sen. Flake falls on deaf ears in his house.

Along those lines, Matthew Walther writes about his hometown in rural Michigan: [8]

What I don’t know is a single person who assigns any significance to the issues debated with mock-gravity by our permanent governing class. It’s not just a problem for progressives. Most people out here are equally alienated from the priorities of social conservatives in Washington, D.C., attending their millionth colloquium on problems in “the culture” while paying down their $2.5 million mortgage and figuring out which elite graduate schools their children can get into. It’s not that my fellow Michiganders are enthusiastic about abortion or same-sex marriage or “boys using the girls’ bathroom,” as some of them might put it. It’s just that these things mostly don’t affect them, and they find it easy to ignore them or laugh them away.

Most of these things will ultimately affect them, but I see Walther’s point. Still, it is infuriating that so many Trump supporters don’t seem to much care that he gets very little done, other than cause one pointless drama after another.

As usual, MBD said more in one tweet than I said in acres of rambling:

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You gotta wonder if Ben Sasse thinks he would do better for American going back to running a college. Or driving Uber.

UPDATE: Ross Douthat won’t let Flake et al. off easy. [10] Excerpt:

To the extent that there’s a plausible theory behind all of these halfhearted efforts, it’s that resisting Trump too vigorously only strengthens his hold on the party’s base, by vindicating his claim to have all the establishment arrayed against him.

But the problem with this logic is that it offers a permanent excuse for doing nothing, no matter how bad Trump’s reign becomes. (“I’d criticize him for accidentally nuking Manila, but you know, then Fox News would just make it all about me …”) In the end, if you want Republican voters to reject Trumpism, you need to give them clear electoral opportunities to do so — even if you expect defeat, even if it’s all but certain. And an anti-Trump movement that gives high-minded speeches but never mounts candidates confirms Trump’s claim to face establishment opposition while also confirming his judgment of the establishment’s guts and stamina — proving that they’re all low-energy, all “liddle [11]” men, all unwilling to fight him man to man.

If Corker really means what he keeps saying about the danger posed by Trump’s effective incapacity, he should call openly for impeachment or for 25th Amendment proceedings — and other anti-Trump Republicans should join him. If Flake really means what he said in his impassioned speech, and he doesn’t want to waste time and energy on a foredoomed Senate primary campaign, then he should choose a different hopeless-seeming cause and primary Trump in 2020. George W. Bush should endorse him. So should McCain, and Corker, and Romney, and Kasich, and Sasse, and the rest of the anti-Trump list. They should expect to lose, and badly, but they should make Trump actually defeat them, instead of just clearing the field for his second nomination.

And not only for the sake of their honor. The president’s G.O.P. critics should engage in electoral battle because the act of campaigning, the work of actually trying to persuade voters, is the only way anti-Trump Republicans will come to grips with the legitimate reasons [12] that their ideas had become so unpopular that voters opted for demagoguery instead.

A speechifying anti-Trumpism, distant from the fray, will always be self-regarding and self-deceiving — unwilling to see how the Iraq War discredited both the Bushist and McCainian styles of right-wing internationalism, incapable of addressing the economic disappointments that turned voters against Flake’s Goldwaterite libertarianism [13] and Romney’s “trust me, I’m a businessman” promises. Only in actual political competition can the Republican elite reckon with why it lost its party, and how it might win again without succumbing to Trumpian indecency.

UPDATE.2: Reader Saltlick writes:

Rod — “Still, it is infuriating that so many Trump supporters don’t seem to much care that he gets very little done, other than cause one pointless drama after another.”

Let me start with the Boilerplate Denial: I did not vote for Trump and think he’s a clinical psychopath.

But —

First, I think you are wrong about him not getting anything done. Much of it has been with Executive Orders, yes, but that only highlights the deceitfulness and incompetence of the Republican Congress. A few items of note:

— His DOJ has announced a breathtaking 180 from the days of Obama with respect to how it understands the Constitution’s guarantee of relgious liberty. Here’s the letter: https://www.redstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/religious-liberty1.pdf [14]

— His Department of Justice has rescinded the Obama-fed notion that homosexuality and gender orientation are protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

— He is rescinding Obama’s order that the Affordable Care Act mandates employer-provided health benefits include contraception.

— According to its director, ICE has increased workplace enforcement of immigration laws four to five times.

— His EPA has ended the “sue and settle” scam which allowed environmental leftists to use litigation to create legislation.

— The U.S. has withdrawn from UNESCO, possibly the world’s most corrupt organization, just as it did in Reagan’s administration (Bush rejoined in 2002)

— His admibnistration is vigorously going after Sanctuary cities and the M-13 gang.

— ISIS is on it’s last legs.

And there’s a lot more if you research it.

Secondly — what alternative to Trump can you point to which will push conservative policies? Congress won’t do it; they are part of the problem. The Establishment GOP is more culturally aligned with Democrats and the media than with Trump’s base. So who?

Thirdly — You have written wonderfully and prophetically here about the decline of Christianity in America. Doesn’t that point to the fact that Trump may very well be the last president who is willing to protect religious freedom as we have known it in our lives? You know that is true, Rod. It’s doubtful a true conservative on our issues will ever again be elected president — cultural and religious shifts, changing demographics all weigh against it.

After Trump, the deluge. He may at least give us time to prepare.

These are fair points. The other day, a Republican who did not vote for Trump, and who is in a position to know, told me that the Trump administration is doing a lot of substantive good in the Education department and HHS, at the policy level. Nobody is covering this stuff, but it’s happening, and conservatives ought to be happy about it.

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82 Comments To "Flake Flakes"

#1 Comment By l’autre J On October 25, 2017 @ 1:01 pm

This is all a solemn contemplation of whether the dodos or the great auks are the future of the Republican Party.

There is a change of cultural majority near and neither faction has much of a future.

#2 Comment By Andrew On October 25, 2017 @ 1:26 pm

I haven’t read all the comments, so I don’t know if this has been mentioned.

One of the reasons Trump keeps creating media chaos over trivial offenses is that it distracts the media from what he is doing under the radar. If Trump didn’t keep picking fights, provoking his enemies, making himself the center of attention, etc., the media would be far more focused on his actual administration. Have you noticed that the people on his Cabinet are rarely in the news (except when they’re used against him, like Tillerson’s “moron” comment)? Trump’s tweets and outbursts are a smokescreen, allowing him to accomplish a great deal behind the scenes. He’s giving room for the people who work for him to actually do their jobs, without obsessive media scrutiny. (For example, how much media attention is Scott Pruitt getting, compared to James Watt in the 80’s? Same with Betsy DeVos compared to William Bennett, etc.) Trump is giving his cabinet and administration room to maneuver, while he takes the heat. It’s quite ingenious, actually.

#3 Comment By Noah172 On October 25, 2017 @ 2:48 pm

JonF wrote:

Most of Saltlick’s point are things that any Republican president would have done

Not the immigration points (ICE, sanctuaries, MS-13). Immigration, remember, was Trump’s top issue.

or (in the case of ISIS) are not really attributable to Trump

Wrong. Trump loosened rules of engagement, dialed back Obama’s tactical micromanagement, stopped Obama’s CIA funding of Arab jihadis fighting Assad, armed and supported the Kurds, and did not interfere with Assad/Putin taking back much of Syria (central, south, southeast).

You should see also my list at 11:35.

When asked why they support Trump (whose policies as opposed to rhetoric are pretty much boilerplate GOP)

Again, see my list. Congress, for the moment, has an anti-Trump, establishment consensus majority, but the executive branch is different.

the reply usually boils down to “He says things that tick off liberals and other people I hate”

We could easily sneer at you and your political camp:

Why Obama? “He transcends race! He’ll bring us together! He’ll usher in the permanent progressive majority!”

Why Hillary? “Woman! So accomplished! [Doing what? “Stuff!”] Her husband was good! She’ll show those racist, sexist white males!”

Just what are those failures[?]

Afghanistan. Libya. Syria. North Korea. Yemen. Russia (bungled reset followed by bungled hostility). Iran (stop Iran from going nuke without inspecting their military sites and without Americans on inspection teams, plus it didn’t get a proper treaty vote in the Senate).

DACA. Gang of 8. Lax interior immigration enforcement. “Children” at the border.

Uranium One. OPM data hack (worst cyber attack in history). Hillary email cover up. Bungled DNC hack investigation (FBI never inspected servers). Possible FBI involvement in Steele dossier. Spying on political opponents. Improper unmasking of citizen names in intel reports (and S. Power claims somebody else used her name for the requests — either a lie or a serious security breach). Clapper perjury.

Taking credit for the auto bailout (that was Bush).

Inflammatory intervention WRT H.L. Gates, Martin/Zimmerman, and Ferguson.

10 million men aged 20-54 (7 million 25-54) with no employment and even seeking any.

Opioid crisis worsening (flood of Mexican heroin and drug traffickers; Medicaid and VA excessively approving opioid prescriptions; and Obama signed this law that 60 Minutes just claimed hampered DEA enforcement efforts, after no opposition in Congress).

VA scandal.

#4 Comment By RBH On October 25, 2017 @ 4:19 pm

Saltlick is exactly right – and even leaves out a lot of things. The policies coming from the Executive branch are a massive corrective to the Executive unilateralism of the Obama era; contrary to the primal screams of ‘authoritarianism’ we’ve heard from the Left – these policies are shifting power away from the Executive branch and putting the responsibility back on Congress – where it belongs – to deal with them – CPP, DACA, Title IX due-process issues, and on and on. People like Flake and Corker and Paul Ryan are the problem.

Remember when Paul Ryan was the policy wonk of the House? Remember when he was Ways and Means chair and put out a documentary about reforming the tax code? How many times did the House under Ryan’s Speakership pass an ACA repeal? Now they have majorities in each chamber and a President that would sign anything that came to his desk, and they can’t put up a bill. It’s clear they never had a bill on these issues and more, and don’t really want to enact conservative policies. They’re exposed, and now they are dropping off one by one – cause they didn’t deliver.

And notice all the criticism from Flake and Corker is personal invective. Not one substantive critique (if I hear another commentator say “tone” I’m going to lose my mind), just these “heaven help us” lamentations.

Most Conservative commentators can’t separate Trump the man from Trump the policies. It seems like every other week, the intellectual conservative types like, say, National Review are writing an approving editorial about a Trump policy. When’s the last time they wrote one about bill passed in Congress?

#5 Comment By Elijah On October 25, 2017 @ 4:29 pm

“Flake’s GOP has no interest in limited government, just an aversion to paying for their expansionism. He’s in the majority in the Senate. Which bills have he sponsored and passed that limited the size of government?”

I would have a lot more respect for Flake, McCain, et.al. if they actually, you know, tried to get legislation passed. McCain simply enjoys his perch as kingmaker, so to speak. As others have pointed out, the only thing more unpopular than Trump and HRC is Congress.

Looked at from another angle, Flake’s speech amounts to: “These dumb-ass voters don’t know what they’re doing! I’m much smarter than these chowderheads! I’m taking my toys and going home!!”

Not exactly a winning strategy literally or in the war of ideas.

#6 Comment By JonF On October 25, 2017 @ 4:39 pm

Re: Not the immigration points (ICE, sanctuaries, MS-13). Immigration, remember, was Trump’s top issue.

Yes, the immigration stuff, because the base would have demanded it. Remember even Obama was more effective at enforcement than W. Bush had been. There’s been a gradual hardening of the public’s stance on this issue and politicians do take note of such things.

Re: Afghanistan. Libya. Syria. North Korea. Yemen. Russia (bungled reset followed by bungled hostility). Iran (stop Iran from going nuke without inspecting their military sites and without Americans on inspection teams, plus it didn’t get a proper treaty vote in the Senate).

You lead with a bunch of foreign policy things, not all of which I agree were failures (and some of which would have vexed Alexander the Great or Talleyrand at his draftiest). My comment concerned domestic matters mainly. Some of the rest of your list is Breitbartian pseudo-news, which I won’t even bother to engage with as it’s as pointless as arguing with a flat Earther.
And in what rational world is Obama responsible for local crime events, like the Mike Brown business in Ferguson or Zimmerman shooting Travyon Martin? By that standard Richard Nixon was guilty of the Manson murders back in 69. Crime is a local or at most a state issue. It’s one buck that does not stop at the White House.

Re: 10 million men aged 20-54 (7 million 25-54) with no employment and even seeking any.

Oh come on, if people aren’t seeking employment isn’t the “blame”, if blame is deserved, on them? I thought the Right was all about “personal responsibility”. It isn’t the president’s fault if ten million guys have decided it’s easier to stay home and channel surf, play online games, zone out of Vicodin, whatever, instead of getting off their duffs and getting a job.

Overall I find your list to be a lot of (relatively) small potatoes, none of them of the scale of say Bush’s Iraq fiasco or the 2008 meltdown.

So I repeat and will stand by what I said above. We were not the New Jerusalem but we were in decent shape last year after eight years of Obama’s tenure, allowing for humankind’s usual sins and follies.

#7 Comment By Noah172 On October 25, 2017 @ 5:29 pm

JonF wrote:

You lead with a bunch of foreign policy things… My comment concerned domestic matters mainly… Overall I find your list to be a lot of (relatively) small potatoes, none of them of the scale of say Bush’s Iraq fiasco

So, Bush was bad because Iraq (fair enough), but Obama’s foreign affairs record doesn’t matter.

Some of the rest of your list is Breitbartian pseudo-news

I don’t read Breitbart regularly (beyond an occasional link-clink other sites), and everything I mentioned has been a topic of discussion (of varying quality, but still) in MSM outlets, and, no, not just FOX/WSJ/conservative niche papers (none of which make up a large fraction of my news diet individually). Example: Steele dossier, Clinton, FBI — not a Breitbart/FOX scoop at all.

You are also airily dismissing some serious misconduct or incompetence because, frankly, it doesn’t affect you personally.

which I won’t even bother to engage with as it’s as pointless as arguing with a flat Earther

How very Christian of you. Says the guy who has snidely dismissed my (and others’) reference to empirical evidence in any number of comment debates on this blog for years. (You once told me that stats were “bullcrap,” or maybe more than once.)

in what rational world is Obama responsible for local crime events

That’s not what I wrote. Read what I wrote. O inserted himself (and, in Ferguson’s case, the DoJ) into local crime stories, and did so in ways which inflamed controversy (and wasted federal resources, again WRT Ferguson).

I thought the Right was all about “personal responsibility”

I thought the left was all about “root causes” and “structural forces”. How about both/and rather than either/or?

It isn’t the president’s fault if ten million guys have decided it’s easier to stay home

He could have pursued policies in immigration (less) and trade (more protectionist) that would have made more jobs available for these American citizens (versus foreigners). You are going to respond that automation destroyed jobs, and, indeed, it has destroyed some human jobs — but not all of the loss of employment for men lacking college degrees is due to automation. (And if automation is such a big factor, then we should cut off immigration pronto — but you’re against that, because racism.)

He could have also taken better action against the opioid crisis (which, it cannot be stressed enough, has a legal side [prescriptions] and an illegal side [Mexican heroin]), insofar as drug abuse makes many people unemployable, and this particular drug epidemic is very much attributable to failures of governance (federal, state, local).

Overall I find your list to be a lot of (relatively) small potatoes

Again, because none of it affected you personally.

Also, if you, like many liberals, consider “muh Russia” to be evidence of Trump’s unfitness for office, you cannot logically dismiss the brewing Obama-Clinton Russia scandals. Sauce and geese.

#8 Comment By Hound of Ulster On October 25, 2017 @ 6:08 pm

As long as Trump’s ‘populism’ (which in reality is Trump’s cronies replacing the Reaganite cronies in the looting of the public purse) excludes over half of the actual people (let’s not kid ourselves, some of Trump’s supporters do want a return to the Jim Crow paradigm, look at the opinion polling), it is a thin reed that will be easily broken the minute the Sanders wing defeats the Clinton wing for control of the Center-Left and the Democratic Party.

If the Democrats go full social democratic policy wise, the Trump goose is cooked.

[NFR: Why do you believe that? — RD]

#9 Comment By CMPT On October 25, 2017 @ 7:27 pm

Rod: “I don’t think there’s a viable political solution on offer now. That’s why I’m doubling down on The Benedict Option.”

In what time and in what country was there ever a political offering that made the call to discipleship less necessary or less urgent? To think such a political offering ever existed, or ever will exist, is to completely misunderstand what actual discipleship is.

[NFR: Um, do you really believe that I think discipleship is only necessary because the political door is closing? You’ve been reading me for too long to believe that. — RD]

#10 Comment By CMPT On October 25, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

Brendan: “If the left goes a more Sanders-esque route, they could gain a lot of the disgruntled base of the right in national elections . . . “

There is very little evidence to suggest that Sanders-esque policies without cultural resentment will appeal to the base of the right. Even among many of the commenters around here, the dispositive issue seems to be whether a politician is sufficiently harsh toward immigrants and prospective immigrants.

Huge tax cuts for the wealthy, huge cuts in health insurance coverage, huge increases in the deficit, huge increases in environmental pollution and even a dramatic increase in the indiscriminate killing of civilians all seem tolerable so long as the politician wastes no opportunity to make life harder for immigrants including refugees fleeing war zones.

It’s true, some of these folks also require the revocation of access to birth control and various LGBT rights, but there seems to be no amount of anti-Sanders-esque policies that are too much for the base of the right so long as these fringe rights are granted and immigrants are given no quarter.

[NFR: “Many”? How many? — RD]

#11 Comment By Glaivester On October 25, 2017 @ 8:56 pm

collin:

Why should he care that much about WWC in Michigan or Rust Belt states? He is representing the voters of Arizona and Arizona has a significant number working class families in the state? It is just the majority of working families in Arizona are not WWC whose fathers had 1960 union jobs.

Maybe he shouldn’t. But he should concern himself with the voters’ desire to limit immigration, as in its state-level legislation, politicians, and policies, Arizona has been one of the most restrictionist states over the last ten years. They elected Jan Brewer. That they also elected McCain and Flake is what is strange.

#12 Comment By Glaivester On October 25, 2017 @ 9:04 pm

The hostility to Flake, and the fact that he is frequently called a RINO, is entirely due to one issue: immigration. The fact that he hates Americans and wants us replaced as fast as possible is why so many people hate him.

And he doesn’t even pretend that he has seen the light or regrets anything he did.

I think the best way to understand Flake is [15].

The basic point is, many in the GOP establishment would rather resign/retire than bother to listen to the concerns of their voters.

#13 Comment By VikingLS On October 25, 2017 @ 10:40 pm

@Hound of Ulster

“If the Democrats go full social democratic policy wise, the Trump goose is cooked.”

Would you mind clarifying what you mean by this and telling us if you think it’s actually likely?

As I understand you I think you might be partially right (I think a kind of socialism might be salable here, although not until 2024) but wrong in the presumption that the Democrats will EVER embrace it, even if it means they lose.

#14 Comment By CMPT On October 25, 2017 @ 11:57 pm

Rod: “[D]o you really believe that I think discipleship is only necessary because the political door is closing? “

No, I don’t. But, I do believe, based on all of your writings that I have read, that you believe the following:

1. There was a time in America when the culture was conducive to the practice of genuine Christianity (vs. MTDism), but that has increasingly not been the case since the start of the Sexual Revolution;

2. During the time when the culture was conducive to the practice of genuine Christianity, society’s institutions (including government) acted to preserve and, in many cases, promote that practice;

3. Because both the culture and our institutions worked in tandem to preserve and promote the practice of Christianity, there were many forces other than just family and the church that acted to nurture discipleship, thereby lessening the urgency of a BenOp;

4. Sexual probity is a central tenet of discipleship (even the sine qua non) and, therefore, the Sexual Revolution damaged the genuine practice of Christianity in a more devastating, maybe even irrevocable, way than any of the other un-Christian customs or ideologies that had previously become part of American society; and

5. Because of all of the above, the call to discipleship is now more necessary and urgent than at any other time in American history.

I believe you are wrong on each of these accounts.

I find nothing in scripture that suggests sexual probity is the central tenet of Christianity. It’s important; it’s what God wants, but neither the teachings of Christ or Paul elevate sexual probity to the level that you have. Because you’ve placed an inordinate importance on sexual probity, you seem not to appreciate how difficult true discipleship was in this country at various times prior to the Sexual Revolution, or how difficult it’s been since then for reasons unrelated to the Sexual Revolution.

Surely, it was harder to understand and follow the true requirements of Christ during that dark time when the culture and its institutions maintained and promoted the genocide of Native Americans and the rape, enslavement and family destruction of Africans. Imagine trying to raise your children to be true followers of Christ when society’s most highly esteemed leaders genuinely believed the foregoing atrocities were actually required by God.

Surely a society whose culture and institutions maintained and promoted the practice of Christianity could have resisted Jim Crow or war in Vietnam. Or, has there ever been a point in this country’s history when parents who wanted to teach their children to be content, as instructed by scripture, so long as they have food and clothing and nothing else found reinforcement in the culture and our institutions? That teaching is antithetical to everything our culture and its institutions have ever promoted.

I do, however, believe you are correct that for those who do desire to follow the teachings of Christ, the BenOp (in some form or another) is essential. I just believe that has always been the case, and it’s probably even more essential during those times when Christians don’t feel challenged by the culture and its institutions.

#15 Comment By EngineerScotty On October 26, 2017 @ 2:50 am

The hostility to Flake, and the fact that he is frequently called a RINO, is entirely due to one issue: immigration. The fact that he hates Americans and wants us replaced as fast as possible is why so many people hate him.

He hates Americans? I don’t like to defend Flake, but damnit Glav, you’re being quite the political drama queen here.

#16 Comment By JonF On October 26, 2017 @ 1:09 pm

Re: As I understand you I think you might be partially right (I think a kind of socialism might be salable here, although not until 2024) but wrong in the presumption that the Democrats will EVER embrace it, even if it means they lose.

Serious question: why do you think the Democrats would not embrace it?
Back in the late 70s one might have said a similar thing about the GOP in the late 70s: with Goldwater’s crushing defeat not that far in the rear view mirror and with FDR/LBJ liberalism still dominant in the political culture, they would never embrace hard right conservatism. And yet, in 1980 they did. It took the Watergate scandal, Gerald Ford’s narrow loss in 1976, and the five star fiasco of Carter’s presidency for that to happen– but it did. I could see a future where a loosely similar process, beginning with the shock of Hillary’s defeat last year, leads the Democrats to embrace– or re-embrace actually– a left wing economic platform, and if Trump’s administration proves to be a mess with the GOP “enjoying” the same status with the voters they did in 2008, then, yes, it could happen.

Re: There is very little evidence to suggest that Sanders-esque policies without cultural resentment will appeal to the base of the right.

The base on the Right– of course not. Those people will vote Republican come hell or high water. But appealing to more moderate voters, the ones who crossed over to vote for Trump last year? Yep. Hillary after all offered them very little (and what she did offer was tinged with the suspicious duplicity of the Clintons). A more honest offer of a better deal by a more honest candidate?

#17 Comment By EngineerScotty On October 26, 2017 @ 1:36 pm

Would you mind clarifying what you mean by this and telling us if you think it’s actually likely?

I’m not Hound, but I suspect that if the “Bernie” faction were to largely take over the Democratic Party–perhaps garnering a few high-profile heads (Pelosi, DWS, etc.) along the way–the “Hillary” faction would reluctantly get in line, and wouldn’t defect.

After all, when Hillary lost the nomination in 2008, Obama won the election. The party’s radicals are more likely to defect from the coalition than the centrists are.

Though if both parties were to indulge their bases, that might bring about a third centrist party–but what it would look like, I’m not sure.

#18 Comment By JonF On October 26, 2017 @ 1:46 pm

Re: So, Bush was bad because Iraq (fair enough), but Obama’s foreign affairs record doesn’t matter.

I grade Obama a B- on foreign policy: good enough but, yes, with some missteps. I should note here I do not blame the American president for everything and anything that goes wrong during his tenure. *Stuff* happens after all, and presidents are not god-like beings. I have said here on several occasions I do not blame Bush, in any primary way, for the 2008 meltdown– same with Obama and rise of ISIS, or Putin’s unfriendship. Whether or not the US response to those things was perfect or not, they were determined by forces outside US control. We do not run the world.

Re: I don’t read Breitbart regularly (beyond an occasional link-clink other sites), and everything I mentioned has been a topic of discussion (of varying quality, but still) in MSM outlets, and, no, not just FOX/WSJ/conservative niche papers (none of which make up a large fraction of my news diet individually). Example: Steele dossier, Clinton, FBI — not a Breitbart/FOX scoop at all.

OK, you don’t read Breitbart, but you are getting their pseudo-scandals from somewhere. Maybe Fox News is pedaling that kettle of red herrings too? You mention the “dossier scandal”. But what on Earth is scandalous about paying for “opposition research”? Maybe in some pure idyllic world politicians would focus on the issues and would not be paying others to dig up dirt on their opponents, or buying dirt already dug, but in this one that’s how the game is played. Do you really think the Republicans were not paying top dollar for anything and everything remotely plausible against Hillary? Heck, she’s as much a spent force as Hurricane Irma is at this point, and they are still doing it!

Re: O inserted himself (and, in Ferguson’s case, the DoJ) into local crime stories

Obama made some anodyne comments that could only have offended people with serious prejudice issues. Yes, he said “Travyon Martin could have been my son”. That is the sort of “I feel your pain” thing politicians say to the bereaved. In no way did it prejudice the case– Jeb Bush on the other hand opining (as, yes, he did) that Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law should not apply in Zimmerman’s case before it had come to trial was a far greater flub (Bush was the governor who signed the bill into law– his opinion as such carries some weight). Yet no one jumped on Bush, while Obama’s very mild and directionless comment has had the Right screaming ever since. I don’t drop f-bombs online as a rule, but really, Noah, WTF?

Re: He could have pursued policies in immigration (less) and trade (more protectionist) that would have made more jobs available for these American citizens (versus foreigners). You are going to respond that automation destroyed jobs, and, indeed, it has destroyed some human jobs — but not all of the loss of employment for men lacking college degrees is due to automation. (And if automation is such a big factor, then we should cut off immigration pronto — but you’re against that, because racism.)

And I gave you a quick sketch precis of what I think should be done on immigration. Could you do business on that? Or is it “my way or the highway” on the issue? I do think Trump will make– already mas made– immigration reform a cause that will be taken up by both parties– Sanders after all made some noises about that last year. However any real progress will require some horsetrading and half loaves. If no one on your side is willing to open for business then nothing will get done- which is too bad because stuff needs to get done.
On trade I am conflicted. You are right that I think automation is the bigger issue, and that we are indeed leaving behind the left side of the bell curve as a result, even though I am a skeptic on the whole AI business. However I did lose a job to outsourcing myself (Did I ever talk about that here? Rod knows, but that may be from private communication). So yes, I think something needs to be done. That something is not however to repeat the error of Smoot-Hawley back in the Depression. If we had done that one over in the teeth of the Great Recession the result would have been every bit as grim as it was in the 30s. There are scads of jobs in the US that are dependent on foreign trade– never forget that.

Re: He could have also taken better action against the opioid crisis

And done what exactly? I may be a proponent of national healthcare but I am leery of presidents (or bureaucrats in general) micromanaging doctor-patient things. Obama’s DofHHS did issue warnings and more stringent guidelines on the prescription of opioids as the scale of the problem became more widely known, and the DEA started closing “pill mill” clinics years ago. And again, this one hits close to home– and I know I have posted about my own family’s experiences in this area. Meanwhile the ACA is doing more for addiction than anything Trump and the GOP are proposing– in fact they want to end that! And Trump’s much-ballyhooed “state of emergency”? It has not one penny of actual funding attached it. Old Grigor Potemkin is no doubt green with envy where-ever Ekaterinya Velikaya’s boyfriend ended up.

#19 Comment By Loudon is a Fool On October 26, 2017 @ 2:06 pm

Surely, it was harder to understand and follow the true requirements of Christ during that dark time when the culture and its institutions maintained and promoted the genocide of Native Americans and the rape, enslavement and family destruction of Africans. Imagine trying to raise your children to be true followers of Christ when society’s most highly esteemed leaders genuinely believed the foregoing atrocities were actually required by God.

I’m not convinced. Unless human nature was significantly different 200 years ago (1) the morality of the ruling class isn’t the standard by which parents teach their children virtue and (2) people will do somersaults in their minds to compartmentalize and segregate their individual actions and desires from the injustices their actions and desires are dependent upon. You’re not going to find too many pro-choicers who believe that the fetus feels pain, for example. How could you believe the fetus feels an abortion and still be ok with abortion? That would be monstrous. But it’s probably better not to think about it too much.

The injustices of 200 years ago probably did contribute to a casual racism, but I doubt a middle class mother living in New York could be convinced to be cheerleader for genocide (back then; today that person is likely pro-abortion so go figure). Another way of looking at this is that enslaving someone, directly participating in the slave trade and killing Native Americans were not things that most people did or that most people could do (they weren’t in a position to enslave people even if they might support the institution politically). It wasn’t a part of their every day lives. But the sexual revolution hits us where we live and tells us that something we were already inclined to do (seek pleasure) is now acceptable. That’s going to have a much bigger impact on the day to day practice of virtue within a culture because it makes us vicious through practice. Accepting that an injustice is happening somewhere over there is much different (and has a different impact on your soul) than actually perpetrating the injustice. To draw the correlation to abortion again, pro-choicers may avoid being moral monsters by lying to the themselves. Although I’m open to the possibility that pro-choicers are moral monsters.

#20 Comment By Noah172 On October 27, 2017 @ 1:39 am

JonF wrote:

OK, you don’t read Breitbart, but you are getting their pseudo-scandals from somewhere

Had you read the part of my comment you quoted, you would have noticed that I said these stories were in MSM outlets across the spectrum. And enough with the snotty “pseudo-scandal” talk and patronizing me. “You must be getting these from somewhere” — because I’m such a parrot? We all get stories from somewhere; that’s how we learn about the world.

what on Earth is scandalous about paying for “opposition research”?

You are either willfully disingenuous or just stupid here. Your political camp has been screaming for months about Trump and “treason!” and “collusion!” about Russia. Now it turns out Team Hillary was paying a former British spy to solicit salacious gossip on Trump from (he claims) Russian government sources. You can’t scream “treason!” and “collusion!” and then shrug your shoulders when it turns out it was your side doing it. Also, it looks like the FBI had a hand in the Steele dossier — meaning O was using the government, not private partisan researchers, to dig up dirt on a political opponent. We also need answers if the dossier was used as the basis for any federal warrants to tap Trump associate phone calls.

And I gave you a quick sketch precis of what I think should be done on immigration. Could you do business on that? Or is it “my way or the highway” on the issue?

Your side got a massive amnesty in 1986 while promising it would never happen again and that there would be vigorous enforcement of illegals in the future. These were lies.

And you, JonF, are not in Congress. The Democrats who are in Congress oppose, virtually unanimously, any effective enforcement measures (such as mando E-Verify, more workplace raids, ending sanctuaries, and of course the wall), any reduction in legal immigration, and any end to chain migration.

Whatever goes on inside your mind, don’t pretend that actual elected Democrats are moderate on this issue.

I do think Trump will make– already mas made– immigration reform a cause that will be taken up by both parties– Sanders after all made some noises about that last year

“Made noises”? The guy has been in Congress since 1991. Why do his fans think he emerged from nowhere? His record in Congress on immigration, which anybody can research, is very liberal, and since 2013 has been indistinguishable from any other Democrat (once upon a time he opposed amnesties which had guest worker provisions attached — not the amnesty, the guest workers; but then he voted for Gang of 8 in 2013, which massively increased low-skill legal immigration in addition to amnesty).

Trump has certainly shifted the immigration debate in this country, but the Democrats have become even more extreme on the matter in response.

And done what exactly?

I emphasized that the opioid crisis is one part prescriptions, one part Mexican heroin (a lot of people start on the first, then move to the second). O, with his lax border security and interior immigration enforcement, failed to deal with the heroin. As for Medicaid, it could have cut off opioid prescriptions outside a list of diagnoses and prognoses (cancer; less than a year to live), or restricted opioids only to in-patients (so people can’t take the pills home and sell them or abuse them), or increased the co-pays (to make illegal resale less profitable).

#21 Comment By CMPT On October 27, 2017 @ 12:58 pm

Loudon is a fool: “Unless human nature was significantly different 200 years ago (1) the morality of the ruling class isn’t the standard by which parents teach their children virtue and (2) people will do somersaults in their minds to compartmentalize and segregate their individual actions and desires from the injustices their actions and desires are dependent upon.

No, the morality of the ruling class isn’t the standard, but the esteem with which the masses behold the ruling class’s morality speaks volumes about the morality of the ruled. If the masses consider the rulers to be highly moral when those very same rulers conduct themselves in a manner that is disconsonant with the teachings of Christ, then obviously the masses have a very poor understanding of Christ’s teachings. And, if the masses, the rulers, the culture and the institutions all have a very poor understanding of Christ such they they highly esteem immoral conduct, then it will be very hard for any individual household within the culture to withstand the tide of immorality and raise its children in discipleship. If this were not true, there would never be a need for the BenOp no matter how depraved society becomes.

“Another way of looking at this is that enslaving someone, directly participating in the slave trade and killing Native Americans were not things that most people did or that most people could do (they weren’t in a position to enslave people even if they might support the institution politically).”

Culture’s influence isn’t manifest only when most people within the society are engaged in a particular act. An immoral act committed by a significant minority is representative of the culture when that act is allowed, protected and/or promoted by the majority. Two hundred plus years ago the majority of Americans elected a handful of politicians who committed genocide right here in this land. That tells us something essential about the way most Americans viewed the dignity and humanity of Native Americans 200 hundred years ago notwithstanding the fact that relatively few Americans ever physically harmed a single Native American. Likewise, most households in the South did not own slaves, but they voted (and fought) in support of slavery and Jim Crow even though they may have individually never physically harmed a single black person.

That history is a clear indication the mass of Americans at that time did not appreciate how their own views on the dignity and treatment of Africans and Native Americans were inconsistent with the teachings of Christ. A household that sought to teach its children that Native Americans and Africans should, as instructed by Christ, be treated the same as whites was swimming up tide.

#22 Comment By CMPT On October 27, 2017 @ 1:35 pm

JonF: The base on the Right– of course not. Those people will vote Republican come hell or high water. But appealing to more moderate voters, the ones who crossed over to vote for Trump last year?

I’m not familiar with the data on people who typically voted for Democrats, but crossed over to Trump so I don’t contest what you’re saying here. My impression (based only on anecdotes) is that those Trump voters that hadn’t typically voted Republican hadn’t been voting at all recently. But, all of this is beside the point that I was debating with the original commenter about the appeal of Sanders-esque policies to voters on the Right.

Those voters on the Right are there for a reason – cultural, economic, foreign policy or some other consideration. Once cultural issues are put aside, I suspect economics is the next most important issue for most voters across the political spectrum. In order to make Sanders-esque policies workable in the real world, taxes will have to be raised substantially or the defense budget will have to be cut substantially. There’s no indication either approach will appeal to many voters on the right.

#23 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 27, 2017 @ 3:26 pm

I’m not familiar with the data on people who typically voted for Democrats, but crossed over to Trump

There was some detailed polling and on the ground interviewing by news reporters in Wisconsin, focusing on several counties that gave a majority to Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, a plurality to Bernie Sanders in 2016, and a plurality or a majority to Trump in 2016. There was a pretty clear patterns that voters who actually individually voted exactly that way were present in sufficient numbers to account for tipping the state in a close race. I don’t know if similar in depth work was done in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Two hundred plus years ago the majority of Americans elected a handful of politicians who committed genocide right here in this land. That tells us something essential about the way most Americans viewed the dignity and humanity of Native Americans 200 hundred years ago notwithstanding the fact that relatively few Americans ever physically harmed a single Native American.

If anything, it was the other way around. George Washington was interested in a path to statehood for the Cherokees and other southern tribes, but land-hungry peons on the frontier wanted to take their land and kill anyone who got in the way. The federal government wasn’t actually strong enough to restrain such impulses. One of the colonial grievances against King George is that he prohibited settlement west of the Appalachians.

Its not nearly as simple as electing a government committed to genocide. Nor is it as simple as “everyone who let it happen was complicit.” How many people in a horse and buggy age were in a position to travel one thousand miles in order to tell a rough, rowdy ne’er do well to behave themselves?

And, on the Native side, there were recurrent problems with young men intent on raiding “white” homes despite the intentions of their (also not exactly all-powerful) chiefs, which in turn sparked atrocities by “white” people who were spoiling for a fight anyway and didn’t much care about finding the right person to kill.

Only with 100/20 hindsight through rose colored lenses does it all fall into neat little patterns and make perfect (if erroneous) sense.

Imagine trying to raise your children to be true followers of Christ when society’s most highly esteemed leaders genuinely believed the foregoing atrocities were actually required by God.

Stop imagining and read some history. You’d have a hard time defining who “society’s most highly esteemed leaders” actually were. African Americans were deeply Christian, because their ancestors were saved during the Great Awakening, which was a decidedly inter-racial episode, much to the chagrin of Anglican and some Congregational clergy, and understood all along the difference between the Gospel and the pandering of massa on Sunday morning reading over and over his cherry-picked verses about slaves obey your masters and being beaten with many stripes.

I do not blame Bush, in any primary way, for the 2008 meltdown

I do. There were plenty of laws on the books that Bush could have done more to enforce rigorously — although Clinton and Reagan both deserve some of the blame. More important, Bush came into office with a modest budget surplus, that his predecessor proposed to use to pay down the national debt. Instead, Bush childishly said “let’s give the surplus back to the people,” and with tax cuts and increased spending on ill-conceived wars, double the national debt. Then, when we should have a low debt from paying it down in good times, we have to start from a larger debt as the base for dealing with a recession.

#24 Comment By JonF On October 27, 2017 @ 4:56 pm

Re: No, the morality of the ruling class isn’t the standard, but the esteem with which the masses behold the ruling class’s morality speaks volumes about the morality of the ruled. If the masses consider the rulers to be highly moral when those very same rulers conduct themselves in a manner that is disconsonant with the teachings of Christ, then obviously the masses have a very poor understanding of Christ’s teachings

But the dissonance is necessary: no one who is truly following Christ would be a member of the ruling class since to sit in seats of power and enjoy great wealth requires unchristian behavior.

There is a question just how much the general public knew about their rulers’ personal sins. A few kings were pretty blatant in parading mistresses and lovers, but in many cases that sort of thing remained an open secret in which only other ruling class people were in on. When the king went out among the people the queen was at his side playing Loving Spouse even if he sat his mistress on his lap and played with her breasts while receiving foreign ambassadors (real royal behavior by Henry II of France).

#25 Comment By JonF On October 27, 2017 @ 5:00 pm

Noah, I have very little time for a fuller reply, but I will note that I do oppose E-verify, and for two very good reasons:
1. It is very easy to game (see: ID theft where people use someone’s SS#, name and birth date)
2. The SSA’s database is riddled with errors– there’s minor one in my record. This is not always easy to fix– and the effect of mandatory E-Verify would be to blackball American citizens from jobs. That is stone unacceptable, I hope you would agree.

Both of the above are why I see the only solution to employment verification would be a verifiable national ID card.

#26 Comment By CMPT On October 27, 2017 @ 6:41 pm

Siarlys: “George Washington was interested in a path to statehood for the Cherokees and other southern tribes, but land-hungry peons on the frontier wanted to take their land and kill anyone who got in the way. The federal government wasn’t actually strong enough to restrain such impulses.”

Unfortunately for Native Americans, other U.S. presidents succeeded George Washington – most notably, Andrew Jackson, who wasted no time making full use of the self-explanatory Indian Removal Act. So, not only did the federal government not restrain such impulses, it actually codified them.

“Stop imagining and read some history. You’d have a hard time defining who “society’s most highly esteemed leaders” actually were.”

I don’t understand your point. Are you arguing that men who were able to win popular elections and then get re-elected were not leaders who were, at the very least, more esteemed than those who ran against them? Are you arguing that men like Robert E. Lee, a man who sincerely believed he was dutifully following the requirements of Christ, was not highly and popularly esteemed? Or, are you merely arguing that not everyone who was highly esteemed had misconceived notions of genuine Christianity?

If it’s the last, I wholeheartedly agree, but I had the hope that stating so would be unnecessary.

#27 Comment By CMPT On October 27, 2017 @ 7:12 pm

JonF: “There is a question just how much the general public knew about their rulers’ personal sins.”

I’m not talking about personal sins that were or weren’t widely known. I’m even only talking about conduct tangentially. The issue really is whether certain views held by the masses were recognized as being inconsonant with the teachings of Christ.

As an example, when the subject of some historical figure’s racism comes up, we are frequently admonished not to judge that person too harshly because he was merely a “man of his times,” meaning his racist views were held by most of his contemporaries and, therefore, probably only the most sainted person could have lived during that time without developing those same racist views. That is, if the only immoral thing that could be said about him was that he was racist, then he was clearly morally superior to his contemporaries because they were all also racist.

This admonishment not to judge him too harshly makes perfect sense if we are measuring the man against his contemporaries. However, it does not make sense if we are measuring him (or his society’s views) against the teachings of Christ, which is what I’m doing.

My basic argument is parents in 1860 were swimming against an incredibly strong cultural tide if they tried to teach their children that Christ requires them to treat Africans and Native Americans with the same degree of fairness, dignity and respect as whites.

#28 Comment By Lllurker On October 28, 2017 @ 9:15 am

JonF: “But the dissonance is necessary: no one who is truly following Christ would be a member of the ruling class since to sit in seats of power and enjoy great wealth requires unchristian behavior.”

Jon if you are open to expanding on this a little I’d be interested in better understanding it. Are you talking in historical terms, regarding the ruling class under a monarchy for instance, or do you see this applying in general terms to any ruling position including within a republic/democracy?

#29 Comment By Lllurker On October 28, 2017 @ 9:29 am

Noah: “Also, it looks like the FBI had a hand in the Steele dossier — meaning O was using the government, not private partisan researchers, to dig up dirt on a political opponent. We also need answers if the dossier was used as the basis for any federal warrants to tap Trump associate phone calls.”

It’s still a little fuzzy when and how these transitions in the funding for Steele took place (GOP Campaign>DNC/Clinton>FBI), none-the-less once Steele’s findings surfaced the Obama Justice department was duty-bound to look into it.

#30 Comment By Lllurker On October 28, 2017 @ 9:43 am

“once Steele’s findings surfaced the Obama Justice department was duty-bound to look into it.”

This also applies to Trump’s Justice Department by the way, they too were duty-bound to look into this. Which leads the conversation to Comey and the the near-constant Trump/GOP obstructions of justice: the attempt to call-off the FBI, the firing of Comey, which leads to the appointment of Mueller because of the obstruction effort. And the constant attempts to discredit Muelle, which are ramping up even more now apparently in response to the first grand jury indictments. And theremember is a truckload of other incidents that fall in-between the ones I mentioned.

#31 Comment By l’autre J On October 28, 2017 @ 12:28 pm

It’s still a little fuzzy when and how these transitions in the funding for Steele took place (GOP Campaign>DNC/Clinton>FBI), none-the-less once Steele’s findings surfaced the Obama Justice department was duty-bound to look into it.

According to the NYT the report seems to have been solicited and paid for and received by Jeff Singer, a billionaire Marco Rubio backer, via a front organization of his called The Washington Beacon.

After the Rubio campaign was defeated the material was offered to the Clinton campaign with a firm request to pay for some share of the costs.

This is a “scandal” in the usual vein of Clinton Rules- the NYT engaging in irresponsible semblence of journalism to do a backstabbing of “its” side to prove themselves a force to be reckoned with and requiring appeasement. Then people like Noah jumping on it with no fact checking (despite those being available for a year) and quoting RNC propaganda as fact. And then the NYT issuing a correction which it doesn’t admit to be a correction.

I’m not Hound, but I suspect that if the “Bernie” faction were to largely take over the Democratic Party–perhaps garnering a few high-profile heads (Pelosi, DWS, etc.) along the way–the “Hillary” faction would reluctantly get in line, and wouldn’t defect.

That’s not happening. The hardcore Sanders crowd is leaving and it tells everyone so every so often. They would have done it already but they’re too small (8% of the electorate) to go it on their own. So they’re trying, fanatically and desperately, to coerce the liberal-based core of the Party their way. It’s what the right end bloc of the Party invariably does, the tell being their terms of abuse toward the essentially social democratic liberals (‘neoliberals’, ‘centrists’, earlier ‘ultraliberals’).

By 2022 the Party has added enough fresh people to have 50%+1 without that portion of the electorate. IWhat portions are still among Democrats will, like all such blocs before it, self-jettison before then with a “you can’t fire me, I quit” thing. Its narcissism and fanaticism and immoralism during 2016 has led to some very palpable and incrementally growing rejection out here in deep Blue places like where I live. I know more and more people who have decided to vote against any form of Sanders 2.0. That’s going to become a lot more in the next 2-3 years.

#32 Comment By JonF On October 30, 2017 @ 1:25 pm

Re: Jon if you are open to expanding on this a little I’d be interested in better understanding it. Are you talking in historical terms, regarding the ruling class under a monarchy for instance, or do you see this applying in general terms to any ruling position including within a republic/democracy?

I see it as applying generally. To govern a country requires one to choose and accept actions that are necessary evils– war making is one obvious examples though there are others. Yes, all of us occasionally have to choose between evils, but people in power are in that position fairly often. Add to that the corrupting influence of power itself– it takes a truly great saint to resist that temptation. To the extent our leaders may be saved in Christ it will be by God’s mercy and certainly not their official deeds.