The court evangelicals are now linked to yet another “national embarrassment”

Trump and his crack legal team are still claiming election fraud. On Saturday, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann wrote, “One might expect that when seeking a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption…that’s not what happened.” Brann dismissed the case with prejudice. This means that the Trump campaign cannot resubmit the case. Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey called Brann “a longtime conservative Republican whom I know to be a fair and unbiased jurist.”

Trump adviser and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie called Trump’s legal team, which includes Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and former Colorado Christian University professor and current Liberty University spokesperson Jenna Ellis, a “national embarrassment.

Trump still refuses to admit defeat and is not cooperating with Joe Biden on a peaceful transition of power. Most sitting GOP members of Congress are unwilling to admit that Trump lost the election and refuse to call Joe Biden “president-elect.” A national embarrassment indeed.

The court evangelicals are another group of Trump supporters clinging to hopes of an election reversal. While a few of Trump’s evangelical advisers have gone silent, a few are still praying for a miracle. Let’s check in on them:

Jack Graham is still not sure “truth” and “transparency” has prevailed:

Interesting:

I think we all understand Paula:

Eric Metaxas is still holding “election integrity” prayer meetings. He held one last night. James Dobson was involved. So is Jim Garlow:

Metaxas is also promoting this Newsmax video. On Parler, Metaxas promoted a video in which Alan Dershowitz predicts Trump will win the aforementioned Pennsylvania case.

A tweeter mocked Biden’s stutter. Court evangelical journalist David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) retweeted him:

Liberty University spokesperson Charlie Kirk is still fighting the “good” fight:

Lance Wallnau:

Liberty University’s Falkirk Center believes we are in a spiritual battle:

Jonathan Falwell’s says if Liberty ever “goes liberal” he will “light the match” that burns the school to the ground.

What are the court evangelicals saying today?

Election Day 2020 was fifteen days ago. Let’s see how the court evangelicals are processing it.

Eric Metaxas is calling people to “get involved to save the republic.” (Some might say the republic was saved on November 3, 2020). He claims that election integrity is a “bipartisan issue.” Metaxas assumes that there was election fraud and then tells his followers that if they don’t write letters to state legislators they are contributing to the collapse of American democracy. Actually, American democracy worked just fine. In fact, Chris Krebs, the Director of Homeland Security, said that this was the most secure election in American history. And then Trump fired him.

Tony Perkins, Michelle Bachmann, and Metaxas are still praying for a Trump victory:

It looks like Robert Jeffress has something in common with Joe Biden:

Court evangelical journalist David Brody and fellow evangelical journalist Cal Thomas are pushing the election fraud narrative:

Charlie Kirk of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center continues to rant. Expect him to do the same thing in the coming weeks at an evangelical megachurch near you.

“We are juggling pitchers of ‘Marxaritas”:

The Falkirk Center at Liberty University is leading a revival of American fundamentalism. This kind of black and white thinking is at the heart of fundamentalism. It is all about stoking division in the name of God and Christian nationalism. It makes no effort at finding common ground.

Here is Lance Wallnau:

I believe God’s Chaos Code will be a constantly referenced and updated between 2020–2030 when nations align, Cyrus rulers emerge, and statesmen evangelists take their place. Those who understand the times will be wise and “those that know their God will be strong and shall do exploits!”

Some court evangelicals are still on board the sinking ship

Some of the court evangelicals are growing quiet as the Trump administration transitions (officially or not) into the Biden administration. But others are still fired-up.

Jack Graham looks like he has finally come to grips with the reality of this election. We are now living in “desperate hopelessness”:

Jack Graham calls Raphael Warnock, candidate for the U.S. Senate from Georgia, a “false teacher” based on this clip. Wow! But I am sure Graham believes Trumpism is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8).

Is Tony Perkins sending a message to evangelical Biden voters?:

Gary Bauer actually believes there were 1 million Trump supporters in Washington D.C. this weekend:

Yesterday on Parler, Eric Metaxas wrote, “Trump has won the election. It’s only a matter of time before everyone accepts that. Be patient and pray!: He shared this article from The Epoch Times.

Metaxas is devoting his whole show today to a Lou Dobbs interview with Trump and Michael Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell. Metaxas is describing this conspiracy theory about voting machines as a “Second American Revolution.”

Jim Garlow is still doing election fraud prayer meetings:

Garlow is also rallying the troops. Here is what he wrote today on his Facebook page:

Praise God for pastors who have guts. Who act like real leaders! Who have courage. Who obey God rather than man, when man defies God. In CA, PRAISE GOD for pastors like Jack Hibbs, Rob McCoy, Jeremy H. McGarity, Shane N Morgan Idleman, Jurgen Matthesius, John McArthur, Art Hodges and others.

STAND WITH THESE PASTORS. THEY ARE STANDING FOR YOU. NOW, YOU STAND WITH THEM. SUPPORT THEM. ATTEND CHURCHES WHERE PASTORS HAVE COURAGE TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT. List other pastors here who you know who are doing what is right – holding indoor, in person services – not walking in fear – who know when the govt is manipulating the culture – and are willing to love God over being “politically correct” wimps!

List other pastors who are NOT, NOT kowtowing to despotic, totalitarian leadership. Support these pastors!

(NOTE: Because of my age & weight, I take Covid seriously. Very seriously! I not scoff at the disease. I know people who have died from Covid. And two of my friends ALMOST died. I am careful. Very careful. But I don’t accept the dishonest manipulation of the numbers & the hysteria.)

The entire population should NOT be locked down because some of us (15% or so?) have vulnerabilities or comorbidites. People like me can stay at home. But NOT the entire population! That is ludicrous. The lockdowns are NOT about the disease. It is because the radical Leftist-Dem-Progressives are drunk on power. They are inebriated on their authoritarianism. And it is morally, ethically, biblically and legally wrong.

Garlow also posted a letter from Mike Huckabee to Joe Biden:

Dear Vice President Biden,

While I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I support President Trump, I have tried to be fair and stick to the issues. I even defended you on my TV program from an early personal attack, so I hope you will see that I’m not addressing you now as a partisan. It’s vitally important to put the good of the nation ahead of politics, particularly at a time like this, when events are at a tipping point and could easily spin out of control. I think you understand the need to be very cautious, from your reluctance to heed some of your supporters’ calls to declare victory.

In that spirit, I am calling on you to put partisanship and political ambition aside and join President Trump in demanding an impartial investigation into the very disturbing allegations of voter irregularities and fraud in Tuesday’s election.

Surely you must realize that some of the election officials’ actions and unbelievable poll results (202% turnout? Stacks of ballots that were 100% for you?) stink like a boxcar full of shrimp in the Mojave. If you do prevail without resolving these issues, your Administration will go down in history with a permanent black mark of cheating on it, whether it’s true or not. Imagine what you would say if, in a close state, 130,000 ballots all marked for Trump were suddenly dropped off from a Ferrari in the dead of night, as has been alleged in Detroit.

You ran for office on a promise to be a healer and uniter; to be a President of all the people, even those who didn’t support you; and to restore honor, integrity and honesty to the White House. Do you really think that’s likely if you take power under this dark cloud of suspicion? Even after 60 years, the memory of JFK’s legacy is still stained by a mere accusation of mob-stuffed ballot boxes securing his victory.

Also, think back on how much grief your side has given President Trump for the past four years, with the constant attacks and attempts to block his every action. The “resistance” movement justified its rabid opposition by claiming Trump was an “illegitimate” President, on no other grounds than that he didn’t win the popular vote (which, having run yourself three times, you know is meaningless) and “Russian collusion,” for which not a scrap of evidence could be found.

Now, imagine dealing with over 63 million furious Trump supporters and a GOP Senate (and after 2022, possibly a GOP House) who have a very convincing case that the race and their right to choose their own leaders were stolen from them. Their “resistance” will make what Trump dealt with look like a cake walk. These aren’t just some underemployed sociology majors. They’re the people who actually make the country run: farmers, ranchers, truckers, firefighters, police and construction workers.

If you really want to prove that you will bring honesty and integrity to the White House, and that you will represent all Americans, then you must join us in demanding a thorough and impartial investigation of these highly suspicious voting irregularities and refuse to declare victory until Americans have been assured that the vote was honest, that all their ballots were counted and that none were negated by illegal ballots. The people’s faith in the integrity of our elections is more important than the ambitions of either party.

Speaking as a Republican and strong Trump partisan, I promise that if the investigation proves that you won legitimately, then I will congratulate you on your win and accept the loss gracefully. But in all sincerity, I am concerned that if you do not take a stand now to insist on fair and legal elections, then you may eventually win the office, but it will be a bitter prize that will rip this nation apart, bring you more problems than you can imagine, and brand you in history as a President who took office under a cloud of suspicion that will never be removed.

I can’t think of a better illustration of Jesus’ question in Mark 8:36: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

Gov. Mike Huckabee

Court evangelical journalist David Brody is hoping:

This is rich. The Liberty University Falkirk Center, an organization built around the idea that Christians are suffering at the hands of the “liberal” or “socialist” state, is posting about victimhood. You can’t make this stuff up.

Wait. It gets even better. Here is a tweet about how the need for self-affirmation” leads to people to “stray from objective morality.” This pro-Trump organization does not seem to see the irony.

Charlie Kirk of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center is also claiming that 1 million Trump supporters were in D.C. this weekend. And then he connects the rally to voter fraud.

It is pretty hard to hear a court evangelical like Falkirk Center spokesperson Jenna Ellis talk about “truth.” (And in all caps nonetheless!)

And this:

Ellis also tweeted this.

You gotta love Sexton. He’s an Amherst College political science major named “Buck,” but he loves the welders and plumbers. I guess humanities degrees are fine for people from first and second tier colleges.

This is the best thing I have read on alleged voter fraud

It is from conservative writer David French at his Dispatch newsletter. Here is a taste of his piece “The Presidential Election Was Legitimate. Conspiracies Are Not“:

How should we think of the state of play? Aside from the ordinary (and considerable) sting of a presidential loss, is there any objective reason for this extraordinary amount of hysteria? Is the election, in fact, being stolen?

The short answer is no. There is zero evidence of either fraud or other unlawful irregularity sufficient to cast the emerging result into doubt. That’s not the same thing as saying there has been no fraud. That’s not the same thing as saying there have been no unlawful irregularities. But we still can have confidence in the outcome.

Let’s walk through some of the most viral claims of malfeasance and irregularity. As you’ll see, this newsletter will rely heavily on the extraordinary work of our Dispatch Fact Check team. Without further ado—and in question-and-answer form—let the debunking commence.

French asks and answers several questions:

  1. “Should I be suspicious about the fact that the vote counting is taking so long?
  2. “Should I be suspicious that mail-in ballots are overwhelmingly Democratic?”
  3. “Should I be suspicious of the extraordinary turnout numbers in swing states?”
  4. “But weren’t there a number of highly-suspicious and unusual ‘ballot dumps’ that altered the numbers?”
  5. “Okay, but I’ve heard that Republicans have been barred from observing the count. Is that true?”
  6. “Wait. It looks like there were multiple jurisdictions where down-ballot Republicans received more votes than the president?”

Read the entire piece here.

Al Mohler condemns “making generalized charges of voter fraud without specifics that can be investigated.”

Trump voter and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Al Mohler weighed-in yesterday on voter fraud. Here is a taste of Leah MarieAnn Klett’s piece at The Christian Post:

But on Thursday, Mohler argued that while “President Trump has pointed to what he considers to be election irregularities,” there is “no serious credible concern” about voting irregularity “that is a matter of public record.”

“If there is any credible evidence that there was some effort to commit voter fraud on any widespread effort, then that needs to be identified and investigated, and if it does change the results of the election materially, America should deal with that,” Mohler said.

Claiming voter fraud without concrete evidence, Mohler said, can put the country’s existence in danger.

“It can happen and it has happened,” he said, referencing fraud during the 1960 election, “but making generalized charges of voter fraud without specifics that can be investigated, that’s quite dangerous to America as a nation.”

Read the entire piece here. I think this is the best we are going to get from a Trump evangelical.

Why is Biden getting most of the mail-in votes?

Several people are asking me why the mail-in ballots are trending heavily toward Joe Biden. I am a teacher, so I thought I would do a quick post for the record:

First, Democrats tend to believe doctors and scientists (like Anthony Fauci) when they say that COVID-19 is spread in crowds. They thus want to avoid the long lines on Election Day and take advantage of the mail-in option. Republicans and Trump voters also believe the scientists and doctors, but they do so in smaller numbers.

Trump told his followers to vote on Election Day. He does not trust mail-in ballots. This is ironic in light of the fact that the mail-in-ballots are helping Trump in Arizona right now, a state with a tradition of mail-in ballots and where Republicans are more comfortable voting this way.

The court evangelical post -election narrative is emerging. It’s all about voter fraud

Here is what it looks like so far:

It begins, of course, with Donald Trump, the source of all knowledge and truth:

Here is Franklin:

Some folks on my social media feeds want to give Franklin the benefit of the doubt. “He just wants to pray for America,” they say. This may be true, but let’s not ignore Franklin’s reference to “steal the election.” This would be like saying, “Many fear John Fea is a criminal, so join me in praying for God’s will in his life.”

The Falkirk Center crowd at Liberty University is tweeting.

The problem with this tweet from Jenna Ellis is that Trump behaves and speaks like we ARE a “nation of rulers.” And do we really believe that Trump cares about the Constitution?:

Charlie Kirk doesn’t understand that some votes are always counted after election day:

Twitter flagged several of Kirk’s tweets in the last few hours.

James Robison is turning “the battle” over to God:

Paula White has bought the Trump narrative:

I think Gary Bauer may have tweeted too soon:

Jim Garlow is holding a 3pm prayer meeting “AGAINST CAMPAIGN FRAUD.” You can watch it on ZOOM

Trump says he expects violence in the streets tomorrow

Trump is scared to death about Election Day. He is already challenging the legitimacy of the election in Pennsylvania and suggesting that violence will erupt in the streets if he loses. Does anyone think that this is not a dog whistle to his followers? Let’s hope that this election wraps up early and Pennsylvania does not play a factor in the electoral vote count. If it does, things will get ugly.

Twitter had to flag another Trump post tonight.

Here is Reuters:

(Reuters) – Twitter TWTR.N and Facebook FB.O late on Monday both flagged a post by President Donald Trump that called a U.S. Supreme Court decision on voting in Pennsylvania “very dangerous.”

The U.S. Supreme Court last week allowed extended deadlines for receiving mail-in ballots in Tuesday’s election in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, states pivotal to Trump’s re-election chances. The decision let stand a ruling by Pennsylvania’s top court allowing mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day and received up to three days later to be counted.

“The Supreme Court decision on voting in Pennsylvania is a VERY dangerous one,” Trump wrote in his post on both platforms. “It will allow rampant and unchecked cheating and will undermine our entire systems of laws. It will also induce violence in the streets. Something must be done!”

Twitter added a disclaimer to Trump’s tweet, saying that its content was “disputed” and “might be misleading.”

Read the rest here.

The worst moment of Election Day violence in American history

It happened 100 years ago today in Ocoee, Florida. Here is Gillian Brockell at The Washington Post:

There are at least 129 accounts of what happened that day in Ocoee, and they vary wildly.

Some said the attack was a spur-of-the-moment reaction to a Black man trying to vote. Others said it had been carefully planned by White residents for weeks. Only a few Black folks were killed that day; or, dozens of bodies were piled into a mass grave. Every Black resident who survived fled the day after; or, survivors were harassed, threatened and cheated out of land for the next seven years until they all left.

This is what is certain: 100 years ago, on Nov. 2, 1920 — the same day women voted nationally for the first time — the worst instance of Election Day violence in American history unfolded in a small Florida town west of Orlando.

And the perpetrators got away with what they did for the rest of their lives. There are no roadside markers in Ocoee as you might find in Selma, Ala., no excavation projects to locate the purported mass grave as in Tulsa. Until recently, many descendants of survivors had no idea they were descendants of survivors or that they had been robbed of a valuable inheritance long before they were born.

Now, after years of research, a new exhibit at the Orange County Regional History Center in Orlando has unearthed a crime long buried.

Read the rest here.

Texas drive-through ballots will count

I am continually shocked that there are people in the United States of America who want to do everything possible to prevent others from voting.

I am glad to see that the Texas GOP did not get their way. Here is The New York Times:

A federal judge in Houston on Monday rejected Republican efforts to invalidate more than 127,000 votes that were cast at drive-through locations in Harris County, a Democratic stronghold that includes Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city.

The lawsuit was one of the most aggressive moves by Republicans in an election marked by more than 400 voting-related lawsuits. And it came as Texas, long considered reliably Republican in presidential elections, has emerged as a swing state this year, with polls showing an unusually close race there.

Harris County, the most populous county in Texas, is home to one of the state’s largest concentrations of Democratic voters. It had set up 10 drive-through voting sites to offer a safe, in-person voting option amid the pandemic, and polls were open for 18 days.

But in a lawsuit, Republicans argued that Chris Hollins, the Harris County Clerk, did not have the authority to allow drive-through voting in the county.

Read the rest here.

Out of the Zoo: Why I (almost) didn’t vote in the 2020 election

Annie Thorn is a junior history major from Kalamazoo, Michigan and our intern here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home.  As part of her internship she is writing a weekly column titled “Out of the Zoo.” It focuses on life as a history major at a small liberal arts college. In this dispatch, Annie writes about some anxious moments as she prepared to vote for the first time in a presidential election.—JF

My mom doesn’t normally call me while I’m in class.

At the beginning of each semester, my siblings and I send her our schedules and she puts them on our family’s shared Google calendar. With three different kids in our family and three different course loads, it’s a very busy calendar. But it’s helpful for my mom, who uses it to keep track of the times when she can reach us. If she has news to share and she sees we’re in class, she usually sends a text or waits to call when we’re free.

As you can probably imagine, I was alarmed when my mom called me not once, but twice in the middle of my Joan of Arc class. Thankfully my phone was on silent, but it was still a shock when I checked the time and noticed two missed calls. There was also a text: “I know you’re in class but I need to talk to you about your ballot.” I grabbed my phone, excused myself, and caller her back. When she didn’t answer, I went back into the classroom and tried to discreetly send a text response. “I need to talk to you,” she messaged back. Visibly flustered, I went into the hallway for a second time, called again, and my mom finally picked up.

“Yeah so they don’t have our ballot request forms,” my mom said, even though our entire family had requested our absentee ballots in June. I had been anxiously checking my mailbox for weeks to no avail, so I should have known something went awry. Nevertheless, I was beyond frustrated with the fact that my ballot hadn’t even been sent yet. My Mom continued: “And the county clerk only works on Wednesdays. So if you want to request a ballot you need to fill out the form again, take a picture of it, and email it to them ASAP.”

“Well that’s stupid,” I replied, checking my watch. It was already 2 p.m.–well into Wednesday afternoon. If I didn’t get my ballot request in by the end of the work day, the county clerk wouldn’t see it for another week. There’s no way I would get it in time. “Why the heck do they only work one day a week when there’s a Presidential election less than two weeks away?”

As soon as my class was over, I dashed to the printer down the hall and printed out another ballot request form. I wrote down all the required information–my school address, my home address, and my signature–and snapped a picture. On my way to Theology with Dr. Weaver-Zercher, I typed out a quick email and sent it off with a prayer. Who knew it would be so hard to vote.

Yesterday, October 27, a week before the election, my ballot finally came in the mail. I practically skipped back to my room and filled it out right away. It even came with an “I voted” sticker, which I wore with pride for the rest of the day. After weeks of waiting and checking my empty mailbox, I finally got to vote in my first Presidential election.

Election reform experts: 2020 may be the most secure election in American history

Lawrence Norden directs the Election Reform program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU. Derek Tisler is a fellow with the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. Here is a taste of their recent piece at Foreign Affairs:

Here, there is some good news. Over the last few years, and particularly since the novel coronavirus struck, election officials nationwide have gone to work to make this fall’s elections resilient. Because of their efforts, the American electoral system is far likelier to dispense with these twin threats than it was just four years ago.

Read the rest here.

When the United States held an election during a civil war

Here is Jonathan White of Christopher Newport University:

With President Trump’s illness disrupting his campaigning and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic afflicting Americans across the country, some commentators have wondered whether the 2020 election should be postponed. But the election of 1864 and President Abraham Lincoln’s insistence that it be held, even amid civil war, provides a resounding answer: No. Indeed, Lincoln believed that holding a fair election under even the most challenging circumstances was needed if self-government was to survive.

From the very beginning of the Civil War, Lincoln insisted that he was willing to fight to ensure the survival of republican government. “Our popular Government has often been called an experiment,” he told Congress in a special message on July 4, 1861. It was now for the American people “to demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry an election can also suppress a rebellion; that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets.” Once ballots had “fairly and constitutionally decided” a contest, resorting to anything “except to ballots themselves at succeeding elections” could not stand. This, Lincoln wrote, “will be a great lesson of peace, teaching men that what they can not take by an election neither can they take it by a war.”

Read the rest here.

The history of voting by mail

The practices goes back to the colonial era. Here is Olivia Waxman at Time:

In the U.S., showing up in person to cast one’s ballot on Election Day has always been the standard way of exercising that fundamental right. But over the centuries, voting by mail has become an attractive alternative for many—thanks in large part to the influence of wartime necessity.

Even the scattered examples of absentee voting (the terms are often used interchangeably) that can be traced to the colonial era tend to fit the pattern: In 17th-century Massachusetts, men could vote from home if their homes were “vulnerable to Indian attack,” according to historian Alex Keyssar’s book The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States, and the votes of some Continental Army soldiers were presented in writing “as if the men were present themselves” in Hollis, N.H., in 1775 during the American Revolution.

But it was during the Civil War that America first experimented with absentee voting on a large scale, as so many of the men who were eligible to vote were away from home fighting. During the 1864 presidential election—in which Republican incumbent President Abraham Lincoln defeated Democratic candidate George McClellan—Union soldiers voted in camps and field hospitals, under the supervision of clerks or state officials.

Read the rest here.

Zakaria: “Prepare for election month, not election night”

Great stuff here. Fareed Zakaria writes about possible scenarios that might take place on election night. It may also all come down to John Roberts. Here is a taste of his Washington Post column:

All of us need to start preparing for a deeply worrying scenario on Nov. 3. It is not some outlandish fantasy, but rather the most likely course of events based on what we know today. On election night, President Trump will be ahead significantly in a majority of states, including in the swing states that will decide the outcome. Over the next few days, mail-in ballots will be counted, and the numbers could shift in Joe Biden’s favor. But will Trump accept that outcome? Will the United States?

First, an explanation of why this is the most likely situation. Several surveys have found that, because of the pandemic, in-person and mail-in ballots will show a huge partisan divide. In one poll, 87 percent of Trump voters said they preferred to vote in person, compared with 47 percent of Biden voters. In another, by the Democratic data firm Hawkfish, 69 percent of Biden voters said they planned to vote by mail, while only 19 percent of Trump voters said the same. The firm modeled various scenarios and found that, based on recent polling, if just 15 percent of mail-in ballots are counted on election night, Trump would appear to have 408 electoral votes compared with Biden’s 130. But four days later, assuming 75 percent of the mail-in ballots are counted, the lead could flip to Biden, and after all ballots are counted, Biden would have 334 electoral votes to Trump’s 204.

And this:

Is there a way out of this national nightmare? Two powerful forces could ensure that the United States, already tarnished by its handling of covid-19, does not also end up as the poster child for dysfunctional democracy. The first is the media. We have to abandon the notion of election night and prepare the public for election month. In fact, states have never certified winners on election night. News organizations do that on the basis of statistical projections. It is time to educate the public to wait for the ballots to be counted.

The second and decisive force will be Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. If this type of scenario unfolds, it will end up in court. Ordinarily, this would not get to the Supreme Court. The Constitution is crystal clear that it is the states, and the states alone, that get to determine their electors. But the Supreme Court abandoned its restraint in 2000 with Bush v. Gore. That means a disputed election could quickly move up to the Supreme Court, where Roberts would be pivotal as both chief justice and the swing vote. So it might come down to this: One man will have the power to end a looming catastrophe and save American democracy.

Read the rest here.

Barack Obama’s 2020 DNC convention address, democratic virtues, and the failure of Trumpism

Watch Barack Obama speak to the nation on Wednesday night from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia:

Obama’s choice of venues speaks volumes. At a time when many on the Left are disparaging the American Revolution as racist or built upon slavery, Obama chose to give his DNC 2020 convention speech at a museum that commemorates the ideas behind the American Revolution and the U.S. Constitution.

Let’s be clear. Obama did not take us on a ride through a rosy and innocent American story in the way Donald Trump did at Mount Rushmore on July 4, 2020. The former president understands the moral complexity of the past. Three sentences into the speech he says:

I’m in Philadelphia, where our Constitution was drafted and signed. It wasn’t a perfect document. It allowed for the inhumanity of slavery and failed to guarantee women — and even men who didn’t own property — the right to participate in the political process. But embedded in this document was a North Star that would guide future generations; a system of representative government — a democracy — through which we could better realize our highest ideals. Through civil war and bitter struggles, we improved this Constitution to include the voices of those who’d once been left out. And gradually, we made this country more just, more equal, and more free.

The American founding was not perfect. But Obama is unwilling to give up on its ideals. This has been a common thread running through Obama’s entire political career. It is also the spirit that motivated the men and women who were part of what Obama called “the early Civil Rights Movement.” These reformers, as Obama put it, “knew how far the daily reality of America strayed from the myth.” They strove to “bring those words, in our founding documents, to life.” They did not abandon the founding ideals, but sought to fulfill them.

Obama painted Donald Trump and his administration as a threat to democracy:

But we should also expect a president to be the custodian of this democracy. We should expect that regardless of ego, ambition, or political beliefs, the president will preserve, protect, and defend the freedoms and ideals that so many Americans marched for and went to jail for; fought for and died for.

I have sat in the Oval Office with both of the men who are running for president. I never expected that my successor would embrace my vision or continue my policies. I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously; that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care.

But he never did. For close to four years now, he’s shown no interest in putting in the work; no interest in finding common ground; no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends; no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.

Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe. 170,000 Americans dead. Millions of jobs gone while those at the top take in more than ever. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before.

What is a “custodian of democracy?

At its most basic level, a custodian of democracy makes it easy for people to vote. Here is Obama:

Well, here’s the point: this president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism. They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter. That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.

But a thriving democracy also requires a leader who cultivates and models democratic virtues. For such a modern society to thrive, citizens need to learn how to live together with their differences. But not just any differences. A democratic community must be built upon human dignity, the celebration of truth, a belief in science and facts, and a commitment to empathy and decency.

When a leader of a democratic society weakens or seeks to damage this foundation it is our responsibility as citizens to say something about it–both in the public sphere and through the voting booth. In other words, a citizen is responsible for exposing and calling-out those who fail to exalt human dignity, those who refuse to expose lies, those who reject evidence-based arguments, and those who do not practice basic civility.  Not everyone is required to share the same political views, but we all should be willing to live, work, speak, and think within such a democratic framework.

We need to reclaim such a society. A democracy needs “informed citizens” (as Obama, echoing the founders, called them in his speech).  As Mary Ann Glendon once put it, “A democratic republic needs an adequate supply of citizens who are skilled in the arts of deliberation, compromise, consensus-building, and reason-giving.”

Because we all have our own views and opinions, a civil society requires conversation. We may never come to an agreement on what constitutes the “common good,” but we can all commit ourselves to sustaining democracy by talking to and engaging with one other. As author and activist Parker Palmer puts it, “Democracy gives us the right to disagree and is designed to use the energy of creative conflict to drive positive social change. Partisanship is not a problem. Demonizing the other side is.”

The inner working of this kind of democracy is described best by the late historian and cultural critic Christopher Lasch in his book The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy. His description of the mechanics of democratic conversation is worth citing in full:

The attempt to bring others around to our point of view carries the risk, of course, that we may adopt their point of view instead. We have to enter imaginatively into our opponents’s arguments, if only for the purpose of refuting them, and we may end up being persuaded by those we sought to persuade. Argument is risky and unpredictable, therefore educational. Most of us tend to think of it…as a clash of rival dogmas, a shouting match in which neither side gives any ground. But argument are not won by shouting down opponents. They are won by changing opponents’ minds–something that can only happen if we give opposing  arguments a respectful hearing and still persuade their advocates that there is something wrong with those arguments. In the course of this activity, we may well decide that there is something wrong with our own.

Writers at the conservative National Review will, inevitably, argue over policy with writers at the progressive at Mother Jones. The editors of The New York Times are going to opine differently than the editors of The Wall Street Journal. These debates are good for democracy. But the failure to have these debates within a framework of evidence, facts, truth, and decency is harmful to our democratic life. Let’s call this failure “Trumpism.” And there are people on both the Left and the Right who deserve the moniker.