The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the tag “Romney”

Romney’s Loss: The Abortion Factor

by Adam McIntosh

Nothing puzzled me more than when conservatives kept insisting that Mitt Romney was a pro-life candidate for president. Many voters cast their ballot for Romney last week because of the abortion issue alone. Likewise, many Americans – including Christians – didn’t vote for Romney because of the abortion issue alone. Not because they are pro-choice, but because they don’t believe Romney is truly pro-life. It is an undeniable fact that Mitt Romney has been on both sides of the abortion debate throughout his career. Inconsistency is usually a good sign of not being trustworthy, but people can change their minds. For now, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

The official narrative we are given is that Romney converted to the pro-life position in 2004. Throughout the 2012 campaign, he has used the typical pro-life rhetoric to his advantage. His website even had a great section on protecting the unborn. So far, so good. One could easily conclude that his days of supporting legal abortion and funding Planned Parenthood are done and in the past. But what did he say in the months leading up to election night?

On September 9th Romney was asked on NBC’s Meet The Press if he would fight to overturn Roe v. Wade. He replied:

Well, I don’t actually make the decision the Supreme Court makes and so they’ll have to make their own decision … I’ll reverse the president’s decision on using U.S. funds to pay for abortion outside this country. I don’t think also the taxpayers here should have to pay for abortion in this country … I hope to appoint justices to the Supreme Court that will follow the law and the constitution. And it would be my preference that they reverse Roe v. Wade and therefore they return to the people and their elected representatives the decisions with regards to this important issue.”

Though not the best answer, it is consistent with a pro-life position. Let’s continue.

On September 23rd Romney told CBS:

My position has been clear throughout this campaign. I’m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother. But recognize this is the decision that will be made by the Supreme Court. The Democrats try and make this a political issue every four years, but this is a matter in the courts. It’s been settled for some time in the courts.”

On October 9th Romney said to the Des Moines Register:

There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.”

The very next day, October 10th, Romney said:

I’m a pro-life candidate. I’ll be a pro-life president. The actions I’ll take immediately are to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget. And also I’ve indicated I’ll reverse the Mexico City position of the president. I will reinstate the Mexico City policy.”

On October 16th Romney releases a TV ad pandering to pro-choice voters:

You know, those ads saying Mitt Romney would ban all abortions and contraception seemed a bit extreme… Turns out, Romney doesn’t oppose contraception at all. In fact, he thinks abortion should be an option in cases of rape, incest or to save a mother’s life.”

That’s five total statements regarding abortion over the span of five weeks and only two of them are consistent with a pro-life position. That means his pro-abortion statements outweigh his anti-abortion statements. His two good statements aren’t even unique to the pro-life movement! Certainly, taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to fund abortions and Roe v. Wade should be overturned. But these ideals could just as well be uttered by a pro-choice constitutionalist. So, how should we interpret all of this?

Romney’s stated views are not exclusively pro-life and he can’t offer us a constitutional argument. He defers all responsibility to the Supreme Court, ignoring that the Constitution gives Congress the power to strip jurisdiction from federal courts. A pro-life president could push Congress to pass personhood legislation, effectively overturning Roe v. Wade. But not Romney. There’s no abortion legislation on his agenda, remember? The Supreme Court will have to make their own decision, remember? Romney wants abortion to be legal, remember? He alluded to abortion being a valid form of contraception, remember? It makes one wonder what’s left for Romney to be “pro-life” about.

There may have been legitimate reasons to vote for Romney last week. Unfortunately, pro-life activism wasn’t one of them.

The Biggest Problem after Tomorrow’s Election

The biggest problem I will have with the results of tomorrow’s election is not who wins. As much as it pains me to say this–especially because I know so many object to it–there is not a dime’s bit of difference between the two candidates. The biggest problem is the continuing problem with short term memories in America.

Tomorrow, if Obama is re-elected, Americans will be admitting to the whole world that everything they grumbled against George W. Bush for (indefinite detention, not closing Guantamo Bay, troops in the Middle East, criminalization of marijuana, etc.) really weren’t that important.

Tomorrow, if Mitt is elected, Americans will be admitting that they only opposed what was happening because it was Obama doing it instead of another Bush (healthcare–remember Medicare Part D?, education–remember No Child Left Behind?, wars, detention, lack of transparency, etc.)

What I want is more men like John Piper, who criticized Bush and the Gulf War even when it cost him congregants. I want men like Greg Bahnsen, who opposed the First Gulf War, at odds with GOP. It was Greg Bahnsen who first demonstrated such character to me. From him, I learned how to judge war, not according to whether it was a Republican or Democratic war, but whether it was Biblical.

My biggest problem, however, could be my biggest surprise. Regardless of tomorrow’s results, maybe I will see men who will oppose tyranny and injustice because it is happening, not because of who is doing it. Maybe, after tomorrow, I will see Christian leaders stand up for what is right, not for who is saying it.

Or, maybe, I’ll just see a new four years that will tick by until I can be told again, “The 2016 Presidential Election is the most important election you will face in your lifetime.”

Either way, I can say with fellow blogger Steve Macias, “Christ is still faithful and Christ is still King.”

What it Means to Root for Obama

I suspect that my initial arguments for why I would “root” for an Obama victory have not been received without criticism. Humor me for a moment with some additional explanation.

First, I am not rooting for an Obama victory in the sense that I want him to win over any and all other options. Notably, I am not even voting for him. I am voting, rather, for a Third Party candidate. If the Third Party candidate can win, then I want him to win. He is the person I am really rooting for.

Second, I am not rooting for an Obama victory in the sense that I think he alone is better than Mitt Romney alone. This needs to be put into perspective–a perspective I had hoped to have made clear originally, but maybe not.

It is political ignorance to think that the election comes down to Obama versus Romney, alone on their own merits. The United States of America are not ruled by a king with absolute power; they are ruled by a three-branched government that is self-limiting. As a result, Obama is elected WITH the Congress, just as Romney is.

Therefore, I am either rooting for an Obama victory WITH a Republican Congress, or I am rooting for a Romney victory WITH a Republican Congress. The fact of the matter is that in American history, especially its recent history, the three-branched federal government is more conservative when it has a Democratic president and a Republican Congress. It is more conservative in that arrangement than it is in ANY other arrangement: Republican president with Democratic Congress, or Republican president with Republican Congress. Now that could change with any future administration, but historical precedence is on my side here.

So I am not saying that a second-term President Obama is the lesser of two evils in comparison with a first-term President Romney. I am saying that a second-term President Obama WITH a Republican Congress is historically preferable to a first-term President Romney WITH a Republican (or Democratic) Congress. Assuming historical precedence stands, I’d take my chances with the former scenario rather than with the latter.

One more point of note, the choice isn’t between four years of Obama (with a Republican Congress) and four years of Romney (with a Republican Congress). It is between four years of Obama (with an increasingly Republican Congress) and four years of Romney (with a Republican Congress that will likely become Democratic in 2014–following historical precedence) followed by four more years of the same or his replacement by another Democratic president. Thus, I have to follow my conscience and vote for the Third Party candidate (all the while hoping he’ll win), but expecting that if a major party candidate is going to win, the better scenario is for a President Obama with a Republican Congress (that will likely grow more Republican in the 2014 elections) than any other political arrangement in Washington.

I am neither saying that Obama is not evil, nor that he is the lesser of two evils. I am saying that tied to his Congress, that arrangement is the preferable arrangement.

Four Election Options: Explained and Defended

A week to go–that is how long we have until the 2012 Presidential Election. As I see it, we have four choices: Obama, Romney, Third Party, or Abstain. Allow me to present the reasons for each, and which I’ve settled on.

Obama: We’ve heard one argument: it is more likely to bring on a truly conservative candidate sooner. We’ve heard the response, “We are told that it is perverse to deduce from God’s providence, ‘Let us do evil that good may come.'” Another argument presented is that an Obama presidency will be the most conservative option we have–more on that later.

Romney: Romney–while far from guaranteeing it–gives us the best chance for conservative replacements to the U.S. Supreme Court. Others will argue that he also gives us the best chance for overturning Roe v. Wade (that’s a pipe dream) and for repealing Obamacare (another pipe dream).

Third Party: Voting for either the Constitution Party candidate (Virgil Goode) or the Libertarian Party candidate (Gary Johnson) would send a clear message to the GOP that we want change, REAL change–not the stuff Obama promised, but real change. It would tell them they can’t count on us to vote for them no matter how bad the Democrat challenger/incumbent is, unless they are willing to be principled.

Abstain: The best reason to abstain is the old slogan, “Don’t vote, it only encourages the bastards.” If you don’t like the system, if the system itself is evil, then don’t participate in it. Coincidentally, whole Latin American nations refuse to participate in their political systems. Dictators come and dictators go; dictators pass their laws and decrees; the people go right on living their lives and doing what is right in their own eyes and the dictator does nothing to stop them because stopping them would mean ending his own career. 

In the end, I am of two minds. I will vote Third Party because I want to send a message to the GOP. I don’t want to help get Obama reelected in order to do that because I’m afraid they’ll just interpret that as a failure on their part to get their message out. But if Romney loses conservative votes to the Third Party candidates, they can’t but help to recognize the problem is with them–even if they’ll refuse to admit that publicly.

My other mind will be expecting a major party candidate to win, and I will hope–should that be true–that Obama will win. *GASP* Catch your breath and give me a moment to explain.

America has a long history of being principled for short periods of time and being–well–nuts the rest of the time. When we are the most principled is when there is a Democratic president and Republican Congress. Republicans will ONLY stick to their principles in opposition to a Democratic president. They forget they have principles when the president is a Republican (see George W. Bush’s term for an example). The current Congress is already conservative, and if Obama is re-elected it will become even more so in 2014 (historical precedence is on our side, folks!) All of the damage that we fear Obama will incur upon us in a second term won’t be possible with a conservative and growing more conservative (and principled) Congress. Historically, the GOP was most conservative and principled when it was opposing Clinton. We can only hope for the same kind of principles with a second-term Obama.

Thus, I send the GOP a message with a Third Party vote (hoping they’ll hear the message and give us a real, principled candidate in 2016) and I hope for Obama to win (if it has to be a major party candidate). For, as historical precedence makes clear, an Obama presidency with a Republican Congress will give us a more principled and conservative America than a Romney presidency with a Republican Congress ever will.

The Mormon Thing No One Talks About

With a plethora of Romney apologists in the internet, Mormonism couldn’t be happier. The distinctly American religion has found its way to the American audience. Mormonism continues to grow in America. CBN reports “that if present trends continue there could be 265 million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) worldwide by 2080.” That is a staggering number!

Evangelicals find Mormonism largely non-threatening. After all, what is threatening about well-dressed young men handing tracts at your door on a Saturday morning? Make no mistake. Mormonism is a threat to the well-being of this country. It may even be a greater threat than Islam. I say that because the majority of Americans are vaccinated against Islamic talking points. Most Americans view Islam for what it is: a religion shaped by Sharia Law whose purposes are dominion-oriented. Further, Americans are– by and large–incapable of distinguishing between between different branches and schools of thought within Islam. In their mind, Islam is Islam. They blow up things, and that is the core of their philosophy. Sometimes ignorance can be good.

On the other hand, Americans are hardly able to differentiate between a cult and Orthodox Christianity. This is seen in religious polling, when pollsters include Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons and non-affirming Trinitarians under the “Christian” category.

Very few have considered the claims of Mormonism. Apart from the polygamy aspect–which is no longer practiced in mainstream Mormonism in the 21st century– evangelicals can offer no sound apologetic against it. Hank Hanegraaff summarizes the absurdity and confusion of the Book of Mormon:

How millions can take the Book of Mormon seriously is almost beyond comprehension. While Smith referred to it as “the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion,” its flaws run the gamut from the serious to the silly. In the category of serious we find that Ether 3:14 (“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, I am the Father and the Son”) is modalistic and militates against Trinitarian theology, while Alma 11:44 (“Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God”) is basi­cally consistent with the biblical doc­trine of the Trinity.

In the category of silly is the account in Alma 44 of a man who becomes irate after being scalped and stirs up his soldiers to fight “more powerfully.” And in Ether 15 we read of a man who struggles to catch his breath after having his head cut off. The Book of Mormon has now been altered over 4,000 times to compensate for Smith’s poor command of English, as well as for the numerous errors and incon­sistencies it presented.

After having read several classic books on cults over the years, after listening to dozens of debates, after having taken two classes on cults in college, and after interacting extensively with the average American evangelical, I can say that Mormonism will only continue to rise.

What does this mean?

This means that with a Romney victory on November 6th evangelical pastors will need to do a lot more homework. They will need to instruct their flocks with greater precision, and perhaps Trinitarian theology will need to be more foundational than a systematic category. Trinitarianism will need to be the source of life and worship; the very pattern of existence and human relationships.

With Obama at least we knew that liberal christianity is just that: liberal. At least we knew that he was going to always misuse the Sermon on the Mount. At least we knew that he was going to open his wings to religious diversity and ecumenicism. At least we knew that he was a fulfillment of Machen’s dire warnings about liberalism. At least we knew his social and moral agenda. But with Romney, what do we know? Will a moderate appoint other moderates to the Supreme Court? Will he appoint someone like Roberts who stabbed the conservative heart through legislative technicalities? Will he fill the White House with General Authorities of the Mormon Church? In particular, who will be his spiritual advisers?

And when that happens will evangelicals separate religion from policy? Do we truly believe evangelicals have been discipled under Kuyperianism long enough to discern right from wrong? Truth from error? Trinitarianism from Non?

The Mormon thing is actually an important thing to discuss. There is more at stake than the economy in this election. There is the future of the Church, her members, and the responsibility to present a God who is One and Three.

Inconsistent Conservatism

by Adam McIntosh

As the presidential election approaches us, evangelical Christians are rallying behind the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, as the conservative alternative to President Obama. Frequently, I’m told that Romney is better than Obama because he is against redistribution of wealth. Romney has recently criticized Obama for his redistributive policies and when conservatives call Obama a socialist, redistribution of wealth is generally what they have in mind. The two obvious assumptions at play here are 1) that redistribution of wealth is immoral and 2) that conservatives are staunchly opposed to it. But are these assumptions correct? The answer is yes and no, in that order.

Redistribution of wealth is a form of taxation whereby John Smith’s money is taken from him and then given to Jane Doe for a service that the government provides. He must pay the tax even if he never uses the service provided. Mr. Smith is forced to give his money while receiving nothing in return, violating the basics of economic trade. Put simply, this is theft. The principle of private property is clear throughout Scripture. The eighth commandment itself, “thou shall not steal,” presupposes private ownership. If there is no private ownership, there can be no such thing as theft. Redistributive taxation takes your property by threat of force and gives it to someone else, all in the name of charity. (Ironic, isn’t it? Charity is by definition a voluntary act. To force charity is to deny it.) Redistributing wealth is immoral, regardless of what service the government is providing. Christian conservatives – myself included – are correct in condemning the Obama administration and all groups that seek to preserve or extend redistributive taxation.

But as it turns out, Christian conservatives support redistribution of wealth just as much as anyone else. An overwhelming amount of evangelicals all over the country are perfectly fine with disability and unemployment benefits, Medicare, Social Security, public schools, foreign aid, and more. In many cases it is “conservative” Republican politicians who help enact these programs in the first place. And guess who was bragging about how much he wanted to improve Medicare, Social Security and public education during the first 2012 presidential debate? Surprise, surprise! It was Mitt Romney.

These programs are redistributive in the exact same way that government-run healthcare is. John Smith is forced to fund them with his tax dollars even if he refuses to use them. For example, if he never goes to public school, if he never sends his kids to public school, and if he never teaches in public school, he is still forced to pay for other people to attend and teach in public schools. This wouldn’t be a problem if each citizen was given a choice to fund these programs or not. Each citizen could choose which programs they want to use and fund them appropriately. No one would be forced to pay for something they do not want. But this scenario is pure fiction. If the government could not force redistribution of wealth it would be no different than a private agency, thereby defeating the entire purpose of these programs.

Conservatives condemn redistribution of wealth on one hand, but support and defend it on the other. We oppose it rightly when it is advocated by liberals, but turn a blind eye to it when it’s something we want to take advantage of. The inconsistency must stop. An inconsistent person has no credibility. The Republican Party – my party – will continue down the path of irrelevance as long as we refuse to acknowledge the planks in our own eyes. If we want to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and uphold his standards of private property, it must be applied across the board.

This article is not a condemnation of those who are dependent upon redistributive programs. People do the best they can with what is available to them. Many people in this country need charity where the Church has been absent. Ultimately, this is why socialistic policies are becoming the norm in America. When the Church becomes dormant in her duties, counterfeits always arise. Instead of pointing fingers, we should seek first the kingdom of God in our daily lives. We should be encouraging local churches to implement a presence of charity in their communities; to provide affordable schooling to low-income families; to help congregants find employment and assist in managing their finances if need be. We should work towards “opting out” of redistributive programs. Our purpose is to proclaim the lordship of Christ over every area of the political map and to live our lives in terms of that proclamation. Only then can we begin to end the welfare state. It starts with us – and our hypocrisy isn’t helping.

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