Tag Archives: 2008 election

Give Politics a Chance

“The people are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” – Thomas Jefferson

Interior design isn’t my thing. I enjoy a nice home, sure, but start talking about spackle, crown molding – or colors spelled with more than six letters – and I’m out of my depth.

The extent of my furniture buying is to venture into Ikea every four years or so, flanked by friends or family as backup. Overall, except for rooms with little visual jazz, this lack of interest results in no harm done. It’s livable.

How I treat interior design is how many treat politics. The problem with that is, public policy isn’t a boring room you can just ignore.

Even here in Washington, where people breathe this stuff, some friends cynically brush off discussion of the debt ceiling, energy depletion or defense strategy. “It’s all just theater… partisan bickering… a worldly pursuit.” In the right company, the rant will likely end with, “Throw the bums out!”

Every four years many of these folks “hold their nose” and vote—which is a good thing. The truth is, battles are raging every day in the halls of power, deciding where your tax dollars are spent – and how much. It’s worth your time and attention to follow what’s going on and make your voice heard. If people of faith, energy and creativity stayed involved, America would right itself.

I was a cynic about all this not long ago. Sometime during the ’08 election cycle while listening to talk radio and laughing at their put-downs of the other side, a question began to nag at me: What’s really going on? And if it is important, could I contribute in some way? The truth of the matter had to be more complex than these entertainers made it seem.

The journey towards that truth led me to leave a job in Colorado Springs, facing 14 months of internships and unemployment in the DC area. It’s a story too long to tell here. Suffice to say, God provided and guided my steps. Through mistakes, false starts and lost debates, a few guideposts have helped me make better sense of politics.

Sources Matter

Everyone has a reason for believing what he or she does. Yet what passes for solid conventional wisdom (say, ending foreign aid would solve America’s budget problem) is often flat wrong. And our personal experiences often supersede the bigger picture revealed by trends.

To arrive at anything near truth, take in a lot of reliable information from many sources. That’s the heart of writing research and intelligence: the ability to collect diverse facts, reams of data, wildly different perspectives – and fairly synthesize that information into summary points. Otherwise, it’s just your opinion.

It’s why I make an effort to tune in to NPR as well as Dennis Prager, subscribing to The Hill and The Morning Bell e-newsletters, and watching for updates at both census.gov and the Fortune 500. As Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.”

Tone Matters

Let’s assume you successfully discover some new reality from multiple sources, on an issue you believe matters. Time for the talk. (No, not the one about the birds and bees.)

It’s easier to discuss the weather and your health instead of politics and religion. Agreeing to disagree is common even among allies. As a friend told me recently: “She knows what I think, and I know her side – we just don’t bring up those issues where we disagree.”

But then no one learns anything. I talk politics with friends (and strangers) to gain from their perspective. When we differ on the big questions, I try to listen and be persuasive. This is sadly a rare thing in political circles. TV and radio airwaves are blasting with people talking over each other rather than to each other.

Back to that same chapter in Proverbs, verse 15 states: “With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.” Conceding a point, being empathetic, and refusing to call names all help bring people around to your point of view. Where it gets tricky is when a kind tone collides with core moral priorities.

Priorities Matter

Voices like Jim Wallis regularly call for Christians involved in politics to “broaden their agenda” and stop focusing so much on issues like abortion and traditional marriage. True enough, the Gospel has a lot to say about poverty, the rule of law, stewardship, education and even transportation.

From where I stand, we also cannot kid ourselves. There is a true hierarchy of issues when we consider the world in moral terms. How oil drilling affects the environment, and what’s economically feasible to be a good steward, has a moral angle to it. But the violent killing of over 14 million babies worldwide every year by sucking their brains out is a horrific injustice.

On this, I don’t come across as very nice to some in Washington. The goal is to be truthful, not spineless.

We will never live in a perfect world this side of eternity. Each of us have different roles to play to make our nations, our cities, and our families better, more alive, and more reflective of God’s Kingdom. As a new school year begins, I pray you will discover more of that calling. Sometimes it’s a process of elimination; interior design is not in my future, I’m fairly certain.

No matter your major, I hope you realize the value of understanding and staying involved in politics. Yes, the issues are complex. Yes, my eyes glaze over too after looking at one page of our national budget. Still: this stuff matters.

A former ORU student and University of Colorado graduate, Josh M. Shepherd works at a think tank in Washington, DC.

Cross-posted at ORU Oracle

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Seven Questions with Bob Moffit, Co-Author of Why Obamacare Is Wrong for America

Released this past Tuesday, the important new book Why Obamacare Is Wrong for America has gotten noticed by Fox News, NPR, Town Hall, National Review, and readers nationwide, who keep it climbing up the Amazon bestseller charts. The Foundry interviewed Heritage’s Bob Moffit—one of the four co-authors—who reveals how the book came together and why it matters.

Josh Shepherd: Other laws passed in the last two years also have their critics. Why devote a whole book to just this one new law?

Bob Moffit: Because the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as “Obamacare”) is historically unique. Never before has Congress enacted a comprehensive overhaul of one-sixth of the American economy, affecting all 300 million Americans, in one giant bill over 2,700 pages in length. Never before has Congress enacted major social legislation on a narrowly partisan basis in the teeth of popular opposition. Never before have 28 regionally diverse states united in challenging Washington in the federal courts. Health policy dominated the last election; it will play a major role in the next election. And the outcome of this national debate will shape the life of every person reading these lines.

JS: When did you, Grace-Marie Turner, and the other co-authors first discuss writing a book together about Obamacare?

Moffit: Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, called me during the summer of 2010. After the mass protests and the demonstrations and the backlash from the previous summer’s town hall meetings fresh in their minds, congressional leaders were clearly on the defensive over what they had done in March. Turner pointed out to me that ordinary people, from all walks of life, were desperate to learn as much as they could about what was in the law and how it would affect them, and we needed to make the law accessible to them in plain English, devoid of the jargon that routinely accompanies health policy discussions. She also suggested asking Tom Miller of the American Enterprise Institute and James Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. I agreed that they would be terrific collaborators on a project like this.

JS: Tell us about the writing process. How did you all collaborate and still ensure that the book has one voice?

Moffit: We all shared the same basic approach to the subject, and, despite some differences over the significance of items in the law, we all shared the same approach to health policy. We all agreed to write each chapter in the second person. The target of every thought, every sentence, every paragraph was to be: you. This was to make the narrative appealing to the reader and encourage clarity and simplicity in the language. We agreed among ourselves to write chapters on different areas of the law and its impact on different classes of Americans. The writing started over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and continued non-stop until mid-February. Beyond the assigned chapters, we would each review all the draft chapters. Grace-Marie Turner was the project leader. Not only was she the lead writer, but she and her team at the Galen Institute edited and integrated the authors’ different styles into a seamless book. Our editor, Adam Bellow at HarperCollins/Broadside Books in New York City, really helped shape the book and organize the approach that we took in the book. The authors also had sessions where we would meet in person and go over the chapters, sometimes line by line, making corrections and offering suggestions. All the while, the team at the Galen Institute were proofreading, fact-checking, and working to get the book completed on a very tight deadline.

JS: What strengths does each co-author bring to the table?

Moffit: One of the great advantages of our collaboration is that we have known each other for years, and we were familiar with each other’s work in the media and professional journals. But health care is the domestic policy equivalent of China. While I brought to the table a strong background in Medicare based on my duties at the Department of Health and Human Services during the Reagan Administration, Turner had focused heavily on health insurance, the impact on vulnerable Americans, and federal tax policy governing health insurance. Capretta, a former top official at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget during the Bush Administration, was a nationally recognized expert on health-related tax and budgetary issues. And Miller, a lawyer by training, had closely followed the legal controversies, including the court cases and the regulatory issues flowing from the enactment of the law as well as on the impact of business. All of us worked together on the overview of the law and on what we should do instead.

JS: The book gives the facts in clear language, yet there’s a lot to get through. Why should busy American families care about a complex law passed in far-away Washington?

Moffit: This law guarantees that Washington is not far away at all but deeply involved in your personal life. The law will dictate what kind of health plan you have, what medical benefits and treatments you will have, what you will pay in new taxes, what it will mean for your employer and your compensation, and what it will mean for your doctor in his medical practice. Moreover, many decisions that will affect you and your family will be made not by Members of Congress but by bureaucrats you will never know and never meet.

JS: Since last year, Americans have consistently told pollsters that repealing this law is the best route. But could Obamacare be fixed?

Moffit: Repeal is the only answer. You cannot rebuild a health care system based on personal freedom and market competition on bureaucracy and central planning. The poisonous tree yields bad fruit.

JS: What should we do instead to get health care reform right?

Moffit: We have a chapter in our book about what we should do instead, moving to a system that puts consumers in charge of choices, provides new incentives for a properly-functioning market, and fixes policy flaws at the root of many of the problems in our health sector. Just this week, Nina Owcharenko, director of Heritage’s Center for Health Policy Studies, has recently outlined the roadmap for reform in “Restarting Health Care Reform: A New Agenda.” There are a large number of specific policy changes that need to be made. Broadly speaking, if you want to fix the health care system, you need to make tax policy fair and rational, give individual tax relief to persons to buy the private coverage of their choice, promote competition in the health insurance markets (including the right to buy health coverage anywhere in the country), fix the broken entitlements (Medicare and Medicaid) and introduce market forces into those programs to control cost and secure higher quality of care, and encourage state innovation—including health insurance market reform and medical malpractice reform.

Learn more about Why Obamacare Is Wrong for America (a publication of HarperCollins/Broadside Books) at WrongForAmericaBook.com; you can get your copy today at Amazon.com or in bookstores nationwide.

Cross-posted at The Foundry

Who doesn’t love Amazon?

Following their no. 1 ranking for Customer Service in BusinessWeek‘s annual survey,  Amazon.com made the short list in the Marketer of the Year honors from Advertising Age. The write-up briefly gives 5 lessons everyone can learn from Amazon’s consistent success. The full Ad Age section has insights from Hyundai (2009 Marketer of the Year) and other runners-up.

You know who won AdAge’s 2008 Marketer of the Year? That would be Team Obama. And it makes a lot of sense: it was marketing, not substance, that won the day in Election 2008. It is vital that conservatives work to understand new media, marketing tools and strategy that the progressive movement is using so well. Amazon teaches us that it’s really fairly simple to create good marketing.

P.S. Of course, I always have a sizeable Wish List at Amazon <– click to check it out.

We have seen the enemy. And he is us, the Republicans.

I find it interesting that Republican leaders seemed to take no time for soul-searching after the election. Instead, they all descended on Georgia to campaign for the suddenly-very-important Saxby Chambliss. He won, big whoop.

Now perhaps this really was a vital race; Club for Growth makes a compelling argument for why a filibuster-proof Democratic Congress would’ve been frightening.

But the way that John McCain and Sarah Palin hit the campaign circuit for Saxby, interest groups were raising money, and good ol’ Governor Huckabee was sending out update e-mails, you’d think that towing the party line never went out of style. And this after a massive 8.5-million-votes-difference showed how poorly Republicans did on Nov. 4.

I certainly contributed to the GOP presidential effort: writing blogs, donating funds, and making calls for Republican offices in two states (gotta blog on those experiences at some point.) Though when pressed on certain vital issues like economic policy, all I could say was “lesser of two evils.”

And I’m tired of that.

John McCain lost because thousands of conservatives, like author Rod Dreher, simply stayed home.

John McCain lost because he was more of a crony than a maverick.

John McCain lost because he listened more to Sean Hannity than Peggy Noonan, a conservative pundit who today seems almost upbeat about President-elect Obama. (Man, she had such good advice throughout the years-long campaign… Republicans ignored it all.)

John McCain lost because America rejected fear-mongering.

John McCain lost because so many believe President-elect Obama will reinvigorate the country (even some very smart people).

Which candidate was the lesser of two evils? We’ll never know, only one gets the chance to lead. But I for one am proud that America made a decisive stand against the lingering issue of racism. It’s also encouraging that so many citizens exercised their right to vote.

And I’m up for giving President-elect Obama 100 days in office to show us how he’ll lead… provided nothing insane like the Freedom of Choice Act is proposed during that time frame.

Where do conservatives go from here? First and foremost: Christmas and the new year.   : j

Any thoughts while mine are still brewing?

What NOT to believe about Senator Obama

Some questions brought up in recent e-mail forwards…

Will sharia (Islamic law) be instituted under a President Obama?

Is he the antichrist?

What about the gay lovers in his past? (a conspiracy theorist actually said this to me)

Isn’t he really a Muslim?

Will Bill Ayers become Secretary of Education?

Won’t all faith-based adoption agencies close under a President Obama?

To answer all these in one swoop: no. These are entirely UNTRUE claims made by people who want you to vote out of fear. Do 5 minutes of research to disprove any such questions.

As John McCain says, “No Ma’am, he’s not an Arab. He’s a decent family man and citizen whom I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.”

Make no mistake, there will be consequences to an Obama administration. The results will stem from his policies. Many effects will be long-term, even if the liberal supermajority rule ends in 2010.

But far-right folks are only hurting credibility by spreading outlandish claims.

In so many words: I have a real problem with fear-mongering on the Right. It’s unbiblical (speaking to Christians there) and ultimately not even a useful argument in today’s political debate. It’s just ridiculous, and all Christian conservatives are ridiculous by association.

I also have a problem with dishonesty on the Left. For instance, a recent post by a leader of the Christian Left purports to apologize for the exaggerations and spin of the Obama campaign.

It should be noted that this blog post contains twice as many examples of Republican spin as Democrat spin – and then gives two pro-Obama links.

I agree with the overall sentiments expressed, and I am complaining here that Republicans (in general) have been less than honest and honorable. But following in the example presented, I have an American right to express some thoughts on the election.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You see, there is a crowd desperately wanting to have their day. They believe that government has the answers. That enough meddling and initiatives and (most of all) money will change the course of our nation. They are called liberals.

Every decade or so, America apparently needs to learn that the bigger the government, the more messed up it is. This was learned under President Lyndon B. Johnson, under President Jimmy Carter, and for some of President Clinton’s term (a Republican Congress blocked many of his proposals.)

If McCain/Palin are elected on November 4, I would hope and expect that administration only to minimize federal government, provide for our nation’s security, and move towards long-term solutions in areas of public need (energy, for instance). I will not likely get my wish, because McCain has not shown himself to be a fiscal conservative. But it’s a hope.

Then churches, families, marriages, NGOs (funny how the really effective ones are all faith-based: American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Compassion, World Vision…), schools, businesses, and local leaders can get to work on a million small changes needed in a million small communities.

If these institutions are given a little more hands-off from government red-tape, and perhaps some incentives in the right direction (for instance: don’t reinstate the Marriage Tax, Senator Obama), then our future will be decided in those small spaces as each person takes personal responsibility. Not by any politician.

Change is local. There’s a “Change You Can Believe In,” so to speak.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ultimately, God is still on His throne. He’s not voting Democrat or Republican. And He laughs as men call this “the most important election ever.”

The election that changes lives and resonates forever throughout human history is the election of grace Jesus Christ chose for His followers 2,000 years ago.

We’ll only know a truly perfect society in Heaven, and God paid the price to secure that for each of His children. No matter who wins the puny 2008 election, that fact doesn’t change

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Your thoughts? I’d like to note that I am somewhat uncomfortable mixing politics and religion without a degree in either, so your biblically based correction to these thoughts is certainly welcome.

It All Comes Down to Your Vote

In the interest of going on the record – and making Colorado voters aware of some important issues – I have scanned and posted my 2008 ballot on Facebook.

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=56235&l=ffb95&id=725045775

You can print the ballot easier at this El Paso County link.

There are few surprises. Sources to check out include the Colorado Blue Book and the El Paso County supplement, which provide detailed Pros and Cons for every ballot issue.

I even stooped so low as to read the Colorado Springs Independent‘s 2008 Election Endorsements. Then chose the opposite. Good ol’ Colorado Springs Gazette does not have any endorsements up yet, despite an informative Election News section that covers local and national issues.

Here’s a listing of how my ballot differs a bit from the others…

President and Vice President: John McCain and Sarah Palin

In the coming week or so, I hope to post something comprehensive on the leadership and vision I see that compel me to choose McCain/Palin.

Congressman: Doug Lamborn

I know he sends out way too much mail to voters. But Lamborn voted against the Bailout, and all Coloradans should recognize his responsibility on that issue.

State of Colorado Initiative: YES on Amendment 48

Even if you don’t care about the rest of the initiatives, vote for this one. It’s a life-or-death issue. http://www.ColoradoForEqualRights.com/

State of Colorado Initiatives: NO on Amendments 53, 55, 56 & 57

Due to a last-minute deal between labor unions and Colorado’s business community, these four amendments have been withdrawn. A “yes” or “no” won’t matter either way. The Wall Street Journal notes, “Taken together, these measures would have turned business-friendly Colorado into one of the most inhospitable work environments in the nation.”

State of Colorado Initiative: NO on Amendment 52

This is about allocating existing $$ to either roads (yes) or water projects (no). Not to get all environmentalist **shudder** but Colorado clearly needs to stay focused on the state water supply.

State of Colorado Issue: NO on Referendum O

There are a ridiculous number of issues for Colorado voters to decide this year: 15, not counting the judges, local issues or the four withdrawn amendments. It would be nice to cut down on the number of ballot issues. But you can’t argue with this: “Big interests would just buy more signatures, so only the volunteer, grassroots efforts will suffer.”

El Paso County Issue: YES on Question 1A

This was a hard one. I believe 100% in being fiscally conservative – do we really need a 1% sales tax increase in this tough economy? First, I respect the county for not jacking up fees or trying to get around the Taxpayer Bill of Rights using other means.

Douglas Bruce almost had me with some of his arguments. But frankly, it’s clear 1A is needed.

All the debates, the spin, the competing ideas… come down to your decision.

How will you vote?

Biden is No Fool… and other thoughts on the VP Debate

Watch the full debate now:

A few observations about the Vice Presidential Debate last Thursday…

1. The VP candidates are better debaters than their running mates.

In the first debate, Obama came off like he was trying to incite McCain to anger, while McCain didn’t show great confidence even on foreign policy questions where his experience smokes Obama. Overall, there wasn’t a focus on the actual issues being debated.

By contrast, Palin and Biden debated without interrupting each other or resorting to personal attacks. It was worth watching, and over 70 million Americans did.

2. Joe Biden is a force to be reckoned with.

Conservative media, particularly Sean Hannity and the RNC (see their website NotYourAverageJoseph.com), have mistakenly portrayed Biden as a buffoon. This U.S. Senator knows a lot, and he shares his knowledge tactfully.

3. Sarah Palin is a smart, likable leader.

Even many Republicans were doubting this after Palin’s recent interviews with Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson. Yet Palin has a strong command of the issues and relevant facts, with the added plus of being a Washington outsider who calls out blatant political deception when she sees it.

Inexperienced in government? No, Palin managed a $6.6 billion budget as governor of the largest U.S. state. Inexperienced at the media “gotcha” game? Absolutely, as we’ve seen these past weeks.

4. Gwen Ifill was a non-factor.

Except, she did seem to give Biden the last word on a majority of the questions. I will not spend time here to take Ifill’s employer (PBS) to task and challenge why taxpayers are funding the left-leaning programming on NPR and PBS… perhaps another day.

5. This election will be very close.

Neither campaign is doing a stellar job of presenting their message. In the final analysis, Biden got enough of his facts wrong to make his very authoritative statements suspect.

Meanwhile, Palin failed to clearly connect the dots that Obama+Biden = Big Government. Since a majority of Americans believe government is the problem not the solution, the race could change quickly if McCain/Palin continually reinforce this core conviction of their platform.

2008 will surely be a lot like 2004 (when a few thousand Ohio voters determined the next president) and 2000 (when a few hundred in Florida decided who would lead the free world). Except this year, there are over 10 “swing states.”

Make your voice heard and register to vote if you haven’t already.

Your thoughts?