Tag Archives: Pastor Brad

The 2016 Election

Surely, you must have seen this coming. You didn’t think I’d let this year’s presidential election pass by without offering at least a few words on the subject…did you? It probably would’ve been better, for our peace of mind and our health in general, if we all would’ve just paid less attention to the campaigns that have seemingly been going on forever. I once had a boss who would periodically say, “If you ignore a problem long enough…it just might go away.” Maybe not the soundest advice, but every so often his words rang true.

Unfortunately, there’s been way too much, and at times extremely biased and senseless, media coverage concerning the 2016 presidential race to just ignore. We’ve been undeservedly subjected to whining, bickering, mocking, false claims, half truths, and out and out lies for the past year and a half. Finally, the end is in sight. To clarify, only the days of our answering machines filling up with unsolicited political endorsements, our mailboxes overflowing with umpteen unwanted slick mailers recommending even slicker politicians, and our days of being bombarded with those nasty television commercials are almost over. However, the arguing, finger pointing, and political rhetoric will never end. It’s simply unavoidable with America’s two-party system firmly in place.

It’s still so surreal, and quite baffling, knowing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the two remaining candidates we’re left with. I’m well aware there will be other choices for president on the ballot, but they have absolutely no chance (zero, zip, nada) of winning a 4-year stay at the White House. It’s been reported numerous times that Trump and Clinton hold the highest unfavorable ratings ever as nominees of their respective parties. The 2016 presidential election is apparently about electing who we despise the least. I’m not here to offer an endorsement, or attempt to change anyone’s mind (not that it would do any good), but I would like to offer a few observations concerning this year’s election.

I haven’t met anyone who is totally on board with either Trump or Clinton. I know those people must exist because I’ve seen them on television, but I’ve discovered firsthand that most supporters tend to be more anti-Trump or anti-Clinton rather than pro-Trump or pro-Clinton. I also recognize I fit into one of those anti categories. I’ve been sporting a “Nobody For President” t-shirt (thank you Kohl’s) during the last few months, and I have received numerous compliments from passersby. An evening at the Arizona State Fair alone produced no fewer than 30 fairgoers concurring with my 100% cotton statement. It was quite refreshing seeing Blacks, Whites, Latinos, both men and women, and the young and old alike in agreement with one another on something. My t-shirt, albeit not the most positive of messages, has been a reminder that we’re all in this together.

I was all set to use this space to assure everyone the 2016 presidential election is not rigged, but then I looked up the meaning of the adjective Donald Trump has been using on a regular basis, and I must admit he is not wrong. Prior to expanding my knowledge through Wikipedia, I thought The Donald was only suggesting that even if he won the election he would still somehow lose due to some sort of corruption behind the scenes. If that’s truly what Trump thinks then I would have to strongly disagree. However, the word rigged does mean manipulated, distorted, and misrepresented. I think many in the media have been guilty of all those things; hence, a rigged election. Sometimes there have been isolated incidents of voter fraud during an election cycle, but I don’t think that’s germane to what’s been going on these past couple of months.

I do believe this year’s presidential election has been skewed (I like that word better) for a long time now. The resistance to a Trump presidency began on August 6th, 2015, during the first Republican debate, with Megyn Kelly’s initial question for Trump. Actually, it really wasn’t much of a question – it was more of an attack and an assortment of accusations. (I think we all know by now how The Donald responds whenever he’s attacked.) The pushback to Trump occupying the Oval Office has been relentless ever since. I cannot think of any other time in America’s history when droves of respected members from one political party defected to support the opposing party’s candidate.

In addition, for the first time in its 34-year existence, USA Today decided to “endorse” a presidential candidate – NOT Trump! The “pile on” continues. I suppose the overwhelming resistance to a Trump presidency makes perfect sense because The Donald is not your typical Republican. In fact, some might even suggest the American businessman is a RINO (Republican In Name Only). That might explain why the ultra-conservative Mitt Romney initiated the Never Trump movement. There’s no denying Trump has endured a skewed election like no other (some deserved, but some not).

What’s surprising to me is how much Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders seem to have in common, yet supposedly the majority of Sanders’ supporters are now in the Clinton camp (although some reluctantly) at the former presidential candidate’s urging. Both Trump and Sanders are “outsiders.” Senator Sanders has somehow managed to represent the state of Vermont as an Independent (instead of as part of the establishment), and Donald Trump is certainly no politician. The “odd couple” frequently speak out against corporate lobbyists and special interest groups. Both Trump and Sanders tend to take a non-interventionist approach regarding foreign policy which happens to differ from Hillary Clinton’s stance. Yes, Trump blathered about “bombing the s**t out of ISIS,” but Clinton has hinted at declaring war against Syria. Those are two entirely different things.

Trump and Sanders were against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) from the beginning. The pair consistently link the TPP to NAFTA and insist the proposed agreement would only further the outsourcing of American jobs and hurt our economy. Hillary praised the TPP while acting as Secretary of State in President Obama’s administration, but she has since come out against the trade agreement as well. However, some political insiders, including Eleanor Clift: a liberal panelist from sadly the now defunct The McLaughlin Group, believe Clinton may secretly still be in favor of the TPP. I guess only time will tell.

Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have recently voiced their opposition to the possible merger of AT&T and Time Warner. I’m not too familiar with the specifics of the planned merger, but once again the real estate mogul and the Larry David look-alike appear to be of the same mind on this particular issue. Meanwhile, Clinton has taken a position of neutrality by only saying the AT&T-Time Warner merger “raises questions and concerns and they should be looked into.” It’s a little difficult, at least for me, to understand why any Sanders supporter would completely loathe Trump when some of the odd couple’s reasoning and proposed policies are identical. Likewise, I don’t know how any Trump supporter can dislike everything about Sanders. There are definitely some conflicting views between Trump and Sanders, but it sure would be nice if occasionally someone from one political party would publicly acknowledge when he is in agreement with someone from another party. I reckon that’s just asking too much in this day and age.

I assume lots of people will go to the polls this year with an angry us versus them mentality, and that’s disappointing, but at least they’ll be exercising their right to vote. I think if we’d all take a closer look then we’d see that the majority of candidates are more alike than we are usually willing to admit, and by acknowledging that maybe we’d have less vitriol in this country during election cycles. Some people will vote their party while others will vote their conscience. Some will go to the polls very concerned about possible Supreme Court Justice nominations while others will be more interested in a candidate’s proposed policies. I do think not voting though, when a person favors one candidate over another (even if it’s ever so slightly), in actuality aids in the success of the less liked candidate.

This past Sunday, my pastor said he needed to say a few words about the upcoming election. I must confess I cringed at first because I’ve witnessed pastors overstepping from the pulpit before, but then I quickly remembered – this is Pastor Brad. Our leader began by telling the congregation that Copper Hills is an apolitical church. He then acknowledged his flock included both Democrats and Republicans who are equally passionate about their candidates. Pastor Brad then said we should vote. He and his family moved here from Canada several years ago, eventually becoming American citizens, so he cherishes his right to vote and believes the rest of us should as well.

Pastor Brad also stressed the importance of praying for our elected officials at all levels of government whether we agree with their agendas or not. The Bible tells us to do so. The Apostle Paul doesn’t halfheartedly suggest Christians pray for their leaders – he practically commands it (1st Timothy 2: 1-3). Pastor Brad finished relaying what was laid upon his heart by assuring his congregation that regardless of how the November 8th election turns out, “God’s got this.” Those three words are always a comfort to me. Before, during, and after the 2016 presidential election…God’s got this!

I’m Exhausted

I was sitting in church yesterday when I first learned of the tragedy that had occurred in Florida only a few hours earlier. My pastor began the service by partially apprising his congregation of the sobering facts of what had happened. He told us 50 people were dead and another 53 were injured due to a senseless, one-man attack in Orlando. Pastor Brad did not talk about motives, offer any theories or opinions, or even mention that the shooting took place at a gay nightclub. (Unfortunately, I think there are some “Christians” who aren’t too concerned with what transpired over the weekend since assumingly those who perished were homosexuals. Those are not the type of “Christians” I identify with.)

Pastor Brad just said that every life lost mattered to God, and every victim was somebody’s loved one. He then led us in a heartfelt prayer for the victims, their families, and the city of Orlando. Later on, when Pastor Brad was about midway through his sermon, I noticed my mind had wandered. I also felt exhausted. Don’t get me wrong – my pastor is not boring whatsoever (he’s a wonderful teacher) – but I had been brooding over what was surely to come in the aftermath of Sunday’s disastrous event.

After arriving home I turned on the television, and as predicted the news coverage of the morning’s tragedy was fraught with moronic opinions, laying blame, and partisan politicizing. The first thing I was subjected to were written statements, read by a news reporter, from presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and Senator Bernie Sanders. Hillary, of course, just had to mention her desire for stricter gun control as part of her statement. I don’t disagree with that, but we already know her stance on that issue. We also know the Republicans will counter with their typical response insisting that if everyone in the nightclub would’ve been armed then this latest tragic event most-likely would not have happened or at least it wouldn’t have been so severe. Constant political rhetoric, without adding anything new, is exhausting to me.

The news correspondent then read a tweet from presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, which said, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!” For some reason the reporter took offense to the word, “congrats,” appearing in the tweet, but I’m not sure why. The Donald was obviously responding to someone else’s tweet to him, and he did say he didn’t want congrats. In addition, the biased news correspondent failed to mention Trump’s initial tweet which read, “Horrific incident in FL. Praying for all the victims & their families. When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart & vigilant?” Those against Donald Trump have been grasping at anything and everything, ever since he participated in the first Republican debate on FOX News, in attempting to bring down the billionaire businessman.

The same Trump haters who claim The Donald has offended all people of Mexican descent, and who emphatically and continuously make their unflattering thoughts of him publically known, just so happen to be the exact haters who can’t (or refuse to) understand why Trump might be a bit worried about an American-Mexican judging him in a court of law. Trump haters surely cannot have it both ways. I’m not convinced Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the justice presiding over the Trump University lawsuits, won’t be able to properly do his job without prejudice towards Donald Trump, but the possibility does exist. Judge Curiel would have to be a shallow individual to allow Trump’s stance on illegal immigration to interfere with his rulings.

I would like to believe that every justice throughout the history of our judicial system judged every case before them fairly and unbiased, but I’m afraid that’s nothing but a chimera. We need not look any further than to our Supreme Court Justices, and the empty seat left open with the passing of Antonin Scalia, to realize not all judges are completely impartial in regards to the law. Why else would the Democrats want to fill Scalia’s seat now, but the Republicans are perfectly content waiting (some might even say stalling) until after November’s presidential election? Could it be there’s a difference in the way a liberal judge may view a case as opposed to the way a conservative justice may handle the identical case? In a perfect world one’s political affiliation would have absolutely nothing to do with the way one presides over a legal matter.

Now back to Trump for a moment. Defending Donald Trump has become somewhat of a hobby of mine. Not because I’m in love with the guy but because so many people, especially in the media, simply don’t acknowledge the truth. They don’t care for his brashness, and are appalled by his narcissistic attitude, so they scrutinize every move he makes and embellish whatever he says. I’m not a fan of Trump’s personality either, yet with an open mind I’m able to comprehend the gist of what he’s actually saying. Defending Donald Trump can be exhausting at times, but I think someone needs to hold Trump’s critics accountable when they’re wrong.

Although I think political posturing is mainly nonsense, especially during times of tragedy, I did surprisingly appreciate what former presidential candidate, Marco Rubio, had to say at a press conference yesterday afternoon. The Florida Senator began by acknowledging that what took place on Sunday could’ve happened anywhere in the world, but it must’ve been his state’s turn. He then had a message for terrorists and a message of unity for our country. Senator Rubio eloquently said, “They won’t terrorize Floridians, that we stand for and with all Americans, irrespective of sexual orientation, irrespective of their party ideology, irrespective of where they live.” Sounds quite “presidential” to me, for what it’s worth.

I imagine the investigation of Sunday’s horrific event is far from over. Many things will need to be discussed, and I assume a few improvements to our national security may need to be authorized, to make our country safer. There certainly are some legitimate questions that’ll need to be answered sooner or later. For example, how can someone who’s been interrogated by the FBI on three separate occasions (twice in 2013 and once in 2014) have clearance to legally purchase an assault weapon? However, now is the time for mourning and personal reflection…not partisan politics and taking advantage of the grave situation. We are a great nation, but we need to be better.

Living in America can be incredibly tiresome if one watches TV or reads the newspaper. The daily doses of bickering, name-calling, half truths, biased reporting, and partisanship is almost too much for me to bear. It seems as though a great magnitude of people residing in the United States have a self-absorbed, warped sense of righteousness: an “I’m always right and you’re always wrong” mentality. The constant sparring of the media vs. Trump, the gun-rights supporters vs. the gun control advocates, the LGBT community vs. social conservatives, and the Democrats vs. the Republicans is more than enough to fill the ugliest of fight cards. Sadly, the majority of these people are not about to entertain the idea that there may be another side to the story. They also tend to think compromise is not for them. Shame! I’m gonna go take a nap. I’m exhausted.