Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day: Being Thankful that Such Men Lived

Last weekend, on Armed Forces Day I visited a few of the war memorials and President Lincoln's tomb at Oak Ridge cemetery here in Springfield. It is amazing the somberness, yet peacefulness, of the site. The memorials were constructed in remembrance of the many Illinoisans who gave their lives for our country in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. These large pieces of marble and concrete have the names of Illinois soldiers who died and included every branch of the military involved in these wars. The World War II memorial had a timeline of the entire war and a giant globe with markers noting every battle location. There were also quotes from various generals and military leaders etched into the marble of this memorial. My favorite is from General Patton and is depicted below:

I do think there is a definite respect we need to pay and a somber mood we need to exhibit on Memorial Day (and everyday) when we remember those who died for our freedoms. Freedom isn't free, and it has been renewed at a heavy price throughout our nation's history, but as the General said, we can be thankful that such men and women not only died for the principles of liberty, but they also lived for liberty and gave us the opportunity to do so as well. I see General Patton's words as a challenge. Do we truly appreciate and live for the liberty that we have here in America? Are we truly thankful for the freedom of speech or religion we do have? While we see these liberties too often impinged upon, are we nevertheless utilizing those liberties to prevent that impingement from perpetuating? One of the beauties of the Constitution is that built-in self-preservation of those freedoms, if we take the opportunity to exercise our freedom of speech, religion, the press, suffrage, etc. Be the people that General Patton mentioned--the people that lived for freedom.

That freedom of religion is, to me the most precious, and one of those exercises of the freedom of religion is the weekly communion that I share with my brothers and sisters in Christ. The church I am a part of has a member of the congregation share a brief message before we break the bread and share the cup in remembrance of Christ's death for our sins.  Usually on the Sunday before Memorial Day, whoever shares the message invokes Memorial Day. Although there is no true comparison between the Son of God coming down from heaven and taking on human form, living a perfect life, and dying for our salvation, there are those parallels in the sacrificial nature of Christ and those soldiers who died. The soldiers died for those precious earthly freedoms we have, but Christ died for an eternal freedom from sin in Him--that we would be forgiven of our sins and  given the opportunity to share eternity in heaven with Him. There is great joy as well in the fact that Christ lives. His power came not solely in His perfection that allowed Him to be our sacrifice, but in the power in the resurrection. He lives too! We can be thankful, just as Patton said about the sacrificial soldiers, not only that Christ died, but that He lives. It is His life that gives the truest hope. As it says in I Corinthians 15:19 in the Bible, " If for only this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men". However, our hope in Christ is for eternity, and the freedoms we have in Him extend beyond this earthly life. That's real hope.

I'm a proud "bitter clinger", but there is nothing "bitter" about that faith in Christ. As Governor Palin has said (paraphrasing), "we cling to God, not because we are bitter, but because He is better". There is much gratitude we owe to those soldiers who have lived,fought, and died for the principles of freedom, but there is an eternal thankfulness to Christ that He not only live and died for our salvation, but that He also lives today.

Crossposted here and here.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sarah Palin--the Galileoan Expo Eraser

Since Deb Fischer won the Nebraska Republican Senate primary on Tuesday, the discussion of the power or intent of Governor Palin's endorsement has been discussed by many in the media. Some have tried to pass off Fischer's win as the result of the fact that her opponents turned their guns on each other, and she escaped unscathed.  In other words, Governor Palin's endorsement had little to do with the victory. The folks at Breitbart, and even some at the New York Times, have recognized the power of Governor Palin's endorsement.  Heck, even, Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post, gave some backhanded credit to Governor Palin for Fischer's win. However, there are those who are questioning not only the power of Palin's endorsement, but the intent. They are trying to imply that Governor Palin primarily endorsed Fischer because she is a woman, when so much of the support for Fischer extended far beyond that.

It's easy to recognize with Deb Fischer's win that Governor Palin endorsement played a big role in  Fischer's campaign, alongside a big grassroots effort in Nebraska. This is the kind of boost that Governor Palin provided that helped Nikki Haley win her gubernatorial primary in 2010.  Governor Palin's endorsement is powerful, but it isn't solely about getting the candidate over the top to win. It's about changing the way the game is played. It is not about gender, though Governor Palin definitely wants to see more conservative women in politics. Remember too that Governor Palin endorsed Rick Perry over Kay Bailey Hutchison and Deb Medina in the Texas gubernatorial primary and Joe Miller over Lisa Murkowski in the Alaska Senate primary in 2010. Really, those two endorsements tell quite a bit of the story when it comes to the meaning of her endorsements.

When Governor Palin released her congratulatory note about Deb Fischer's victory, she noted:
As recently as a week ago, Deb Fischer was dismissed by the establishment. Why? Because she is not part of the good old boys’ permanent political class. The message from the people of Nebraska is simple and powerful: America is looking for real change in Washington, and commonsense conservatives like Deb Fischer represent that change.
This is what Governor Palin's endorsements are about--real change and ridding Washington (or the state halls) of the permanent political class.This is not better seen than her recent endorsement of Richard Mourdock in Indiana to replace veteran Senator Dick Lugar, nor in her endorsements opposite the Bush endorsed Kay Bailey Hutchison and coattail riding Lisa Murkowski. While many questioned her 2010 support for Christine O'Donnell, her intention was to send a message to the Establishment and to the permanent political class--which extends beyond those who hold political office. The message echoes Reagan's -- "those voices don't speak for the rest of us".  Suffice to say, Governor Palin is the Expo eraser to Karl Rove's dry erase board. It's about the principles of the party, not the party itself. While the Roves of the GOP want the tent to get bigger, the Palins of the GOP want to ensure that the tent--no matter its size-- has its stakes driven into solid enough ground that it won't collapse.

It's not solely about opposition to Rovian-Schmidtish political strategy though. Governor Palin views politics and policy in a way that very few in politics do-- both politics and policy must revolve around the people, not the party. Governor Palin recognizes that politics is not just a battle between right and left; it's a vertical battle between top and bottom--both within the party structure and as a matter of policy. Governor Palin is the political Galileo ( with Ronald Reagan as Copernicus). You may recall that Galileo was an astronomer who pursued the ideas Copernican  heliocentrism--the concept that the earth revolved around the sun, rather than the other way around. The Catholic church declared him a heretic and put him under house arrest where he continued his work, and of course, he was eventually proven right. This Galileo-Palin comparison may not be perfect in its entirety, but it shows an important point. Those in the permanent political class wish to believe that all political power revolves around them, when it really revolves around the people--the people who vote, not those who pontificate. The same concept is true for policy. The big government views of the Left and the "pro business" views espoused by many in the GOP think that government exists to do things for the people or for businesses. Governor Palin is pro market. Who is empowered in a pro market economy? The consumers (the people). The people determine whether or not a business fails or succeeds by their purchasing power--not by the special loans of the big government Left or the special tax breaks of the pro-business GOPers, but of the the Galileoan pro-marketers.

This is what makes Governor Palin's speech in Iowa late last summer so compelling. She laid out a vision of a pro market economy--no corporate taxes, but no corporate welfare, no special tax breaks or subsidies either. In other words, let the people decide what business fail or succeed by their purchasing power. Also, as Governor Palin wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, echoing Peter Schweizer's book Throw Them All Out,  let there be no more crony capitalism and no more special treatment of politicians. This is the very thing that Deb Fischer espouses too. If you look at her campaign website, Fischer notes specifically "reform Congress and Washington D.C." as one of her policy plans. As example, Fischer mentions some of the very same things in this policy plank that Governor Palin did in her WSJ op-ed:

Tighter Ethics Laws
  • Prohibit Members of Congress and federal employees from trading stocks based on information obtained on the job that is not publicly available.
  • Prohibit Members of Congress, their staffs and federal employees from disclosing nonpublic information for investment purposes.
  • Prohibit Members of Congress, their staffs and federal employees from purchasing land based on inside information that is not public available.
  • Require Members of Congress to be subject to the same laws and privileges as every citizen of the United States.
This brings everything full circle. Whether it's an endorsement or policy driven speech, Governor Palin's influence is powerful and so is her impact on ridding the political system of the permanent political class and replacing it with what the Founders stated at the very beginning-"-We the People".

Crossposted here and here