News & Updates
The People Have Spoken
If there was a word that describes this past election cycle, that word would be “hubris,” best defined as a personality quality of extreme or foolish pride, or dangerous overconfidence. We saw it in President-Elect Trump because, well, that’s just who he is. And we saw it in Hillary Clinton who deemed herself to be above the law when it came to putting top-secret documents on an unsecured server.
But the greatest example of hubris, bar none, was the news media, that small group of elites who seem to take it upon themselves to tell their fellow citizens what, when and how to think. The problem was – we weren’t listening. They told us what their polls said – we ignored them. They told us who to vote for – we voted just the opposite. They told us our policies were dangerous – we chose freedom over safety. And maybe, just maybe it appears, we might have begun to believe in ourselves again: to believe in a government of “we, the people,” rather than a government of small, nameless, faceless bureaucrats; to believe in a government guided by the moral code of our forefathers, rather than the amoral code of a small group of intellectuals that rule our college campuses; and finally, to believe that WE know what’s best for ourselves and our families, rather than believing the government knows best.
The best part of Tuesday’s election was watching the stunned looks of the faces of those in power as they watched that power slipping away, members of the news media who, for the first time, were at a loss for words. They could not believe that the people had not chosen their candidate. It would have been even more fun to watch the face of President Obama who said a Trump presidency would be a repudiation of his policies. Those policies WERE repudiated, and on a grand scale, and if President Trump is to be believed, they will soon be discarded, thrown on the ash heap of failed social policy. And there lies the rub: I’m convinced the people voted, not for Donald Trump, but for his policies. Neither Hillary Clinton, nor Donald Trump, are people of sterling character. So, we looked past the character flaws and focused on the policy. That explains why Christians came out in larger numbers for Donald Trump than for either George W. Bush or Mitt Romney. We weren’t voting for the man; we were voting for conservative appointments to the Federal courts and to the Supreme Court. We were voting for life and marriage and secure borders and less regulation and lower taxes and a strong defense and better jobs and religious freedom. Will we get it? Only time will tell.
Here in Montana, nothing much has changed. Although Republicans swept the state-wide offices, Steve Bullock is still the governor, and the House and Senate, although they have Republican majorities, are still controlled by enough liberal Republicans to join with the Democrats to give Governor Bullock his agenda.
Now that the elections are over, our focus turns to the Capitol and the run-up to the 2017 legislative session. On Monday, both Republicans and Democrats are meeting in their winter caucuses to choose their leaders. After that, we get the committee assignments and that determines, to a large degree, the final-outcome of the session. Your involvement had a HUGE impact on the elections, and it will on the legislative session as well. And we’ll be there to keep you informed every step of the way.
Election Fraud On A Grand Scale
In the decades to come we may look back on the Election of 2016 as an inflection point. The year that the veil was pulled back, the gloves came off, and American elections changed forever. Those of us involved in politics and public policy tend to be a fairly jaded bunch. But even we, as cynical as we are, were totally unprepared for the recent WikiLeaks emails and the Project Veritas videos regarding the Clinton campaign. We were shocked at the level of chutzpah required to live completely above the law and to feel so justified doing so.
When it comes to the Clinton campaign, collusion on a grand scale seems to be the order of the day. Collusion and the pay-to-play scheme devised by the Clinton Foundation. Collusion between Hillary Clinton and the heads of the Departments of Justice and the FBI to keep her from being charged with crimes involving national security. Collusion between the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Party to keep Bernie Sanders from winning the primary election. Blatant collusion with all of America’s major news agencies to gloss over all of Hillary Clintons health issues and other alleged indiscretions while at the same time hammering Donald Trump at every turn.
And let’s not forget the emails from John Podesta telling the news organizations how to rig the polling data by oversampling democrat votes. And finally, we have the ongoing release of the Project Veritas videos, which are completely ignored by the major media, but show Clinton fundraisers accepting illegal campaign contributions while at the same time inciting violence at Trump campaign rallies. To top it all off, they admit on tape to rigging the election by paying groups of people to vote multiple times in multiple states to help in key districts. It leaves one asking, is this America – or some third world Banana Republic? Now we have video of democrats who spend lots of time at the White House in meetings with President Obama admitting on tape that they are registering illegal aliens to vote. Couple that with the recent directive by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch stating that poll watching for ineligible voters would be considered a crime and you have a recipe for voter fraud on a scale never-before seen in the history of our nation.
It’s important to remember that every single illegal vote cast is a vote stolen from you and me. We’ve known this has gone on in the past, but never-before has it been so blatant, and on such a massive scale. We are either a nation of laws, or a lawless nation. And it’s our system of laws that separate us from nations run by tyrants and despots. Our laws should apply equally to everyone from the greatest to the very least. We’ve heard far too much about everyone’s right to vote, and far too little about the responsibility to cast informed and legal votes. In an effort to get everyone to vote, we’ve destroyed the integrity of the process. And our only recourse at this late hour is for every single qualified voter to head to the polls and vote. We can still win this but not if the conservatives find excuses to stay home. It’s time to enforce the laws, throw criminals in jail, and restore the integrity of the electoral process. It’s time for conservatives and Christians to get off the sidelines, reengage, and cast their votes.
What the Polls Show
Have you noticed the flurry of campaign flyers hitting your mailbox this week? Some would chalk it up to last-minute campaigning, but I think there’s something bigger at play. As we discussed last week, most of the major races appear to be very tight. Now we have proof. A Lee newspaper poll just out shows conservatives ahead in nearly every race, but the spreads are thin, sometimes within the margin of error of the poll. That means everyone and his brother is doubling-down and spending more money on advertising. It also means there’s a huge opportunity for conservatives to run the table for the first time in decades. Every single race from the Governor to the Supreme Court to the Office of Public Instruction is in play, and the results all hinge on voter turnout. Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.”
We’ve heard plenty of groaning over the past decade. It’s time now for a little rejoicing. What Montana looks like for the next four years all hinges on who turns out to vote. Will Montana have more or less religious freedom? That depends on who votes. Will gun laws be stricter or more lenient? It depends on who votes. Will the lives of the unborn and the elderly be cherished and protected? Once again, it depends on who votes. And the big one for everyone, regardless of your religious beliefs: Will we continue spending like there’s no tomorrow? Because if we do, there will, indeed, be no tomorrow, at least for our children and grandchildren. What this generation has done fiscally is shameful. As a nation, we, in effect, maxed out our credit cards, so we took out new ones in our children’s names and maxed out those as well. We did the same to our grandchildren. Now we’re working on our great grandchildren. We know deep down in the pit of our stomachs, that the level of debt is unserviceable. And we need leaders with enough backbone to cut up the credit cards. The party’s over. It’s time to make the tough decisions, and we start at the ballot box. We’re leaving our children with a mountain of debt. Let’s not leave them with spineless leaders unwilling to address the problem, as well.
The choice should be fairly easy. Whether your main issue is life or religious freedom or the second amendment or fiscal responsibility, the choices are clear. There are very few races this election cycle where the candidates are not polar opposites. Forget what they say about themselves. Look who’s endorsing them. All across Montana, absentee ballots have arrived and are sitting on kitchen tables waiting to be filled out. Let’s start there. One little secret is when you return your mail-in ballot, peace and quiet returns to your mailbox. That’s because the campaigns monitor the returned ballots so that they don’t waste money by sending flyers to people who have already voted. Sorry, we can’t do anything about your TV set, but take heart: It will all be over soon.
The question is will we be rejoicing or groaning? In 2012, 40 million Christians sat on the sidelines and let others choose our leaders. Yes, God ultimately chooses the leaders, but under our system of government, we have a role to play, as well. Our children and grandchildren are counting on us. Let’s not let them down. Return your mail-in ballot today.
Are All Judges Neutral?
As absentee ballots arrive and voting begins, nary a day goes by that the race for Montana Supreme Court is not mentioned in a major newspaper somewhere across the state. The question is, “Why?” Why have Supreme Court races gotten so competitive? Why has the confirmation process for U.S. Supreme Court justice gotten so contentious? Some would argue that the courts have brought this on themselves. The courts, the weakest of the three branches according to James Madison, have assumed for themselves a quasi-legislative role, in some cases, actually making law rather than simply interpreting it.
Case in point: In 1972, Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment and sent it to the states for ratification. After the ten-year deadline and a two-year extension, it failed to get the 38 states required for ratification, and officially died in June of 1982. Now fast forward to 2008: Hillary Clinton is running for President, and she’s asked if she’ll push for reconsideration of the Equal Rights Amendment. She said she didn’t need to because most of what was in the amendment had already been implemented by the courts. Think about that answer for a moment. Article V of the U.S. Constitution lays out a specific process for amending the Constitution. Following that process, we specifically rejected the amendment, but it was later implemented by the courts. There’s no mechanism in the Constitution for the courts to even propose, much less pass, an amendment. Yet, they did it and they continue to do it, and that’s why elections and appointments of judges are now so contentious. For all their talk about ruling strictly on the law, people know innately that a judge’s worldview plays a role in how they interpret the law. It’s human nature, and we see it all the time. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, arguably one of the most liberal justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, used to be chief legal counsel for the ACLU. Right here in Montana, former Supreme Court Justice Jim Nelson once stood in the Rotunda of the State Capitol at a Planned Parenthood rally and said that we must do everything in our power to keep abortion legal. He did that while he was still sitting on the bench. Only later in a law review article did he reveal that he had become an atheist and it was clear that his worldview played a role in decision after decision.
Politicians, including judges, should give the electorate more credit. They can talk about neutrality all they want, but human nature is what it is, and you cannot check your life experiences and worldview at the door. The courts are increasingly taking the people in a direction they would never vote to go, and the people are waking up. Enough states have defined marriage in its traditional form to ratify a federal Constitutional marriage amendment, yet the courts mandated same-sex marriage. With the court’s ruling by Judicial Decree and governors and the President ruling by Executive Order, Congress and state legislatures are quickly becoming irrelevant. It’s high time for us as a people, with one united voice, to say to the courts and to the Executive: “Enough is enough. Stop acting as a super-legislature, implementing by decree that which is not achievable by political consensus.”
As you vote for Montana Supreme Court Justice, choose the candidate whose values most closely match your own. The candidates in the contested race for justice are two VERY different people and both will bring THEIR worldview to the bench.
Let the Churches Speak
For the first 200 years of our nation’s history, pastors across America regularly preached sermons on the culturally relevant issues of the day. Yes, they preached on God’s plan for salvation, but they also preached on things like taxes, war, and politics, regularly going so far as to point out the candidates’ positions on the issues and endorsing those who upheld the values they espoused. That all changed in 1954 when Senator Lyndon Johnson introduced what later became known as the Johnson Amendment. During Johnson’s 1954 bid for re-election, he was opposed by two powerful Texas businessmen who felt that he was soft on Communism. The first was oilman H.L. Hunt who started a non-profit called Facts Forum in 1951. And the other was Frank Gannet, the newspaper mogul, who created a non-profit called the Committee for Constitutional Government in 1937. Both of these gentlemen used their non-profits to oppose Johnson and support his opponent. On July 2nd, in an effort to silence his opponents, Johnson, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, offered an amendment to a tax bill that was adopted by unanimous voice vote. The amendment banned any organization with an IRS 501(c)(3) tax status from making any electioneering communication, that is, endorsing or opposing candidates. As we have talked about in the past, bills can have unintended consequences, and the unintended consequences of this bill continue to echo through every election cycle right up to today. In banning non-profits, Johnson, by his own admission, had also inadvertently banned churches from speaking about candidates. He said this was never his intention. Whether it was or not, 200 years of religious free speech came to an end and the church went silent. They were, and still are, afraid of losing their tax exempt status. The Johnson Amendment never had anything to do with the so-called “Separation of Church and State.” It had everything to do with a powerful U.S. Senator using that power to silence his opponents and ensure his own re-election.
Now pastors and clergy across America are speaking out and daring the IRS to remove their tax exempt status in an annual event called Pulpit Freedom Sunday, most recently held last Sunday, October 2nd. Thousands of pastors since 2008 have recorded themselves endorsing candidates in direct violation of the Johnson Amendment. Those recordings are then sent to the IRS in an effort to get this issue into court. So far, the IRS won’t bite, because they know the regulation is an unconstitutional ban on free speech.
The issue is so important that two members of the U.S. House of Representatives last week introduced the Free Speech Fairness Act. The Act would effectively overturn the Johnson Amendment and restore religious liberty. Sensing a way to score points with the faith community, Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, has pledged to overturn the Johnson Amendment if he’s elected. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” America is suffering, because the churches have remained silent for far too long. We’re like a great ship of state without a rudder drifting aimlessly. It’s time to rebuild that rudder, and repealing the Johnson Amendment is a great place to start.