A Reality Check about Trump and Russia

putin-finalWhile I lean towards accepting what is being said by many in the government (and echoed throughout the mainstream media) about Russia deliberately interfering in our elections to benefit Trump, I am also aware that human beings, especially bureaucrats, tend to behave a bit like Lemmings.
 
So, we must ask ourselves: are these many Federal bureaus and agencies all reaching this conclusion of Russia’s deliberate interference out of independent, unbiased investigations and analysis; or are they looking at which way the wind is blowing and finding facts to fit the conclusions they feel others want to see?
 
Such “proof” got us into the the Second  Iraq War; and such “proof” has been the cause of much injustice and pain throughout history. So, let’s be careful about jumping to conclusions prematurely.
 
On the other hand, more than a few Republicans, and especially Trump’s camp, are taking this as an attack against his legitimacy as President. They’re right, it is; but it is a legitimate concern, not a manufactured one.  And frankly, if Hillary had been a stronger candidate, the validity of Trump’s election would never have become a concern.  (To be clear, I was a Hillary supporter; even though I recognize her weaknesses as a candidate.  However, this discussion is about Trump and Putin, not the validity or outcome of her candidacy.)
 
The way for Trump and his supporters to solve the problem is NOT to try and discredit the concerns and accusations, or to try sweep the whole mess under the rug.  It was hard enough for Obama due to similar (although baseless) accusations, and he swept into office with a huge electoral mandate on his side.  It will be far harder for Trump, who will be a President with a shaky mandate from day one.  So, it is in Trump’s own best interest to make sure the truth is revealed, and quickly – even if the accusations turn out to be true. Otherwise, he will find himself to be a President that few see as legitimate and whom no one pays much attention to, outside of an ever-shrinking circle of devoted fans.
 
Our faith, and our Democracy, are both intended to help us to find Truth in spite of ourselves.  So, let’s make sure we take the time to allow the Truth to be made known.

Sermon: Hope Amidst the Darkness

Christ calls us to see the unseen, and right now the unseen include many who are rejecting the wisdom that we hold dear. They reject it because they see nothing in it for them, and nothing in it that respects who they are or what they need. And, until that changes, nothing we do will have a lasting impact, no matter how well intentioned we are. …And that’s a hard truth to face.

I’m starting today’s message with a slideshow. Each and every quote and image you’ll be seeing in these slides was said or written by someone I know well, or by a friend of someone I know well; and many of the locations shown in these slides (except for the very last one) are probably places you know of and may well have been to, or at least near… So, these are all people and locations with a relatively close connection to me.

These quotes and images demonstrate how this election has caused fear to overwhelm so many people that we know. This is not a criticism of whoever ran. It is trying to help us understand that there are a lot of scared and hurting people out there. People close to us, living in places close to us. I’m hoping they help us see how these reports of terror, bullying, and oppression are not just something from a newscast about a distant place, but are happening to our neighbors and friends and relatives right here, and right now.

Continue reading “Sermon: Hope Amidst the Darkness”

Abolish the Electoral College?

In the last week we’ve all been seeing numerous petitions, blogs, and posts calling to eliminate the Electoral College because it has made it possible for candidates like Donald Trump and George W. Bush to be elected President without a majority of the nationwide vote.
 
Now, it is obvious that the GOP has been waging a war to restrict the ability of minority voters (in particular) to have a voice in elections; and this does affect the Electoral College. But, eliminating the Electoral College is fixing a symptom: it does not address the root causes of gerrymandering (which both major parties are guilty of) and voter suppression.
 
Hillary Clinton appealed to the majority of the country in a numeric sense; but she failed to appeal to the majority of the country in a geographic sense, which is the function of the Electoral College.  Without it, states with small populations like Wyoming and Vermont (both of which I lived in for several years) would have no meaningful role in Presidential elections or the national political dialog.  And without the Electoral College, politicians from smaller states – like Bernie Sanders and Dick Cheney(!) – are less likely to be seen as viable Presidential (or Vice-Presidential) candidates.
 
So, do we really want to the major parties to focus on the largest states, ignoring the needs and concerns of rest of the country?  As Christian, it seems to me the answer is “No.”  As I see it, my faith calls me to work to ensure that everyone has a meaningful voice in determining our nation’s direction, not just those who think and believe like I do.
The Electoral College is not perfect, but it is an important tool we have to ensure that living in certain States does not preclude having a voice in the national political dialog.  We cannot eliminate it without first creating some other mechanism that achieves the same end.

Copyright (c) 2016, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved.  I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as proper credit for my authorship is given. (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site – or just email me and ask!)