Why America Can't Separate RELIGION & POLITICS

  

Category:  Op/Ed

Via:  steve-ott  •  2 weeks ago  •  40 comments

By:   JULIE BUTTERS

Why America Can't Separate RELIGION & POLITICS
By now, several generations have grown up without public school prayer, and it’s easy to take church-state separation for granted. But the idea that it is a defining feature of American public life is a myth, says Bruce J. Schulman, a professor of history.

More than two centuries later, presidential candidates must publicly embrace a strong faith if they want to win. An incident in the 2016 race shows how times have changed. In May 2015, Hillary Clinton, a lifelong Methodist, walked into a South Carolina bakery while on the campaign trail and struck up a conversation with a customer about the passage he was reading in his Bible. Their talk gained Clinton his support. The former secretary of state’s Bible knowledge “is important in my world,” the man, a Baptist minister, later   explained to CNN . “I’d like to know that my president has some religious beliefs in God.”


S E E D E D   C O N T E N T




If HE WERE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT TODAY, THOMAS JEFFERSON WOULD NOT BE ELECTED.   Strip away glaring anachronisms like slaveholding, along with his poor public speaking skills, and Jefferson would still struggle in the polls. The reason would be obvious to the current field of candidates: Jefferson was an ardent critic of organized religion, says   Bruce J. Schulman , William E. Huntington Professor of History.

Jefferson’s unusual religious views—he didn’t believe in the divinity of Jesus, and he advocated a strong separation of church and state—were a point of contention in the election of 1800, when the opposition “basically said any Christian has to vote against this essential atheist,” says Schulman. But he was elected anyway, and is now revered as a founding father.

More than two centuries later, presidential candidates must publicly embrace a strong faith if they want to win. An incident in the 2016 race shows how times have changed. In May 2015, Hillary Clinton, a lifelong Methodist, walked into a South Carolina bakery while on the campaign trail and struck up a conversation with a customer about the passage he was reading in his Bible. Their talk gained Clinton his support. The former secretary of state’s Bible knowledge “is important in my world,” the man, a Baptist minister, later   explained to CNN . “I’d like to know that my president has some religious beliefs in God.”

Clinton may not trumpet her faith on the stump as much as some candidates do, but she knows how to use it to connect with people.

Today, says Schulman, “it’s almost impossible to win the presidency without some show of serious religious commitment.”

How did we transform from a nation that could look past Jefferson’s criticisms of religion and elect him president to one that wouldn’t tolerate them? Religion, which has long been an “indispensable part of American public life,” is “perhaps more central to American politics than ever before,” Schulman and his coeditors write in   Faithful Republic: Religion and Politics in Modern America   (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015). The book offers new or rarely explored insights into the relationship between religion and politics from the early 20th century to the present—from church and state responses to the New Deal to the rise of the Religious Right in the 1970s. It also points out that while America is becoming increasingly secular—“Recent polling shows that the fastest growing religious groups are nonbelievers and those who identify as ‘spiritual but not religious,’” the editors write—religion is taking anything but a backseat in presidential elections.

“In 2012, unease about Mitt Romney’s Mormonism persisted among liberals and conservatives alike,” the editors write, and “in 2008, controversial liberation theology sermons by Reverend Jeremiah Wright threatened to undermine Barack Obama’s candidacy (while a small minority of Americans doubted whether Obama was even a Christian).”

Faithful Republic   is one example of how historians are paying greater attention to religion’s crucial role in shaping US history and politics. Another is   Religion in Early America , the   Smithsonian’s   forthcoming exhibition—its first ever on the topic. The exhibition, for which Professor of Religion   Stephen Prothero   served as advisor, will feature documents, images, and objects such as George Washington’s christening robe and Bibles owned by Presidents Jefferson and John Quincy Adams.

Exploring religion’s shifting influence helps explain the current US political landscape, from why presidential candidates talk so much about God to why the parties clash over American exceptionalism, and gives a glimpse of what the country might expect in the 2016 elections.



photo-1.jpg

As a candidate, John F. Kennedy (shown at a 1963 presidential prayer breakfast) downplayed his faith. By the 1980s, the Religious Right, championed by Jerry Falwell (shown with President Ronald Reagan in 1984), was a major force in politics, pushing candidates to wear their faith more openly.   Bettmann/Corbis/AP Images (Kennedy), AP Photo/Ira Schwarz (Reagan)



PRAYING FOR VOTES


When Jefferson was running for president, elections were very different from what they are today. Voting was heavily restricted (largely to wealthy white males) and political parties were not as established as they are now. “You don’t have candidates going around the country making speeches,” says Schulman, “so personal statements of faith are really not a part of political campaigns.”

One issue that nudged candidates’ personal faith further into the electoral limelight was immigration. As waves of Catholics began arriving from Europe in the early 1800s, religious tensions boiled. Protestants believed Catholics’ loyalty to the pope above other authorities made them unfit citizens. That suspicion lessened over time and with restrictions on mass immigration, says Schulman, but it was still potent enough to force John F. Kennedy (Hon.’55) to openly address his Catholicism in a speech in 1960 to reassure a nervous public. Accused of being unpatriotic and a Catholic Communist, Kennedy downplayed his faith, assuring his audience of Protestant ministers that he believed “in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”

But candidates didn’t really begin talking about their personal faith to win office until after the 1970s, says Schulman. Opposition to the secularism of the ’60s, to abortion, and to measures that established a clearer separation between church and state, such as the banning of school-sponsored prayer, galvanized the Religious Right. Evangelicals would boost the campaigns of Republicans like Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush (Hon.’89), and George W. Bush. Now, “the role of evangelical Protestants is so strong,” says Schulman, that it shapes “the entire presidential selection process.”

Today, most Americans want a president of faith. In a 2014   Pew Research Center   survey, 53 percent of Americans said they would be less likely to support a presidential candidate who does not believe in God. As recent elections have shown, they also expect presidential candidates to talk about their personal faith.

“The rise of the Religious Right has changed the landscape so that” in most of the United States overt religious expression is an expected part of our politics, says Schulman, “and overt irreligion or non-religion is something that’s become more or less unacceptable.”

PLAYING THE FAITH CARD


As they’ve watched religion help Republicans win the White House, Democrats have tried—with varying levels of success—to convince Americans they have the spiritual chops worthy of the Oval Office.

“It was a pretty widespread perception that one reason John Kerry lost in 2004 was because he just couldn’t convey any sort of faith to the American people,” says Prothero. “He sort of seemed like a secularist, and people didn’t like that. [It wasn’t so much] that he was Catholic—it just seemed like he didn’t have any piety. Democrats now have learned from that, and they talk about religion a lot.” He notes that the strategy of “Hillary Clinton and Obama has been to co-opt efforts by Republicans to claim the Christian mantle for themselves and [their efforts] to claim that there’s only one kind of Christianity.”

We can expect candidates to continue to play the faith card in 2016. Clinton will “talk more about [religion] as the election moves on,” he speculates.



photo-2.jpg

In May 2015, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s Bible discussion with Frederick Hunt, a Baptist minister, won her his support.   AP Photo/Richard Shiro



If the Democratic Party’s challenge is knowing when to talk about faith, the Republican Party’s is knowing when to stop talking about it. A lineup including Mike Huckabee (an ordained Southern Baptist minister) and Ted Cruz and Ben Carson (both sons of ministers) guarantees strong testimonies of faith and plenty of references to God and morality. But candidates like these have to be careful: talking too much about religion and morals could cost them the Oval Office. Prothero, whose new book   Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections)   is due out in January 2016 from HarperOne, says he’s joked that the Republican primaries could be the best thing for the Democratic Party.

“Culture war politics is very successful on the right for state and local elections, but it’s not successful at the national level,” he says.

Voicing opposition to issues such as abortion and gay marriage in the primaries might fire up some GOP members, but can make hopefuls “look like fringe candidates” to others—never mind voters beyond the confines of the party, says Prothero.   Faithful Republic   cites Republican Rick Santorum’s failed 2012 presidential bid as an example: the Catholic gained favor by opposing abortion and gay marriage, but not when he spoke out against contraception; he lost the nomination to Romney.

Prothero expects 2016 won’t be much different, because, he says, “in order to win the Republican nomination you have to appeal to cultural conservatives.”

UGLY POLITICS


The boost that the culture war gave right-leaning politicians after the 1970s contributed to the partisan politicking we see today, says Schulman. As he wrote in   Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s   (Harvard University Press, 2008), the “stern individualistic morality and apocalyptic, black-and-white worldview” of right-wing evangelicals like Jerry Falwell “proved more appealing than the nuanced perspective of evangelicals who focused on social-justice issues and on the ambiguities and pitfalls of partisan politics.” Over time, both parties politicized more issues, from history and education to the environment and foreign policy. Today, says Prothero, “we play out these culture wars not just in terms of abortion and in terms of same-sex marriage, but in all these fields.”



“RELIGIOUS TERMINOLOGY, RELIGIOUS LANGUAGE, AND RELIGIOUS WAYS OF VIEWING THE WORLD ARE GOING TO RUN THROUGH THIS ENTIRE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.”
—BRUCE J. SCHULMAN




One squabble we can expect to see in the 2016 election concerns American exceptionalism—the idea that the US has a unique role to play in history and in the world. Exceptionalism rears its head in debates on almost everything from economic to foreign policy. Prothero says these clashes “can be read pretty straightforwardly almost as theological debates about how covenantal theology works”—is God our critic or our backslapper?

Christians of both parties believe in the idea of America as a special, “promised land,” an idea dating back as early as the settlements of the Pilgrims and the Puritans. But they sometimes part ways on what it means to be a chosen people—and on the rhetoric for talking about it. Republicans, says Prothero, emphasize pride in the US as the greatest country in the world, wanting to see the US demonstrate “moral superiority”—one reason negotiating with Iran over its nuclear capabilities was such a point of contention. Democrats, however, commonly speak in a prophetic mode about how the nation needs to do better at living up to its ideals of equality, justice, and so forth.

TOGETHER, FOR BETTER OR WORSE


In the end, the politicization of religion could come back to haunt politicians—and church leaders. In fact, surveys of young people show this to be a contributing factor in the rise of the religiously unaffiliated, says Prothero. These so-called “nones,” expected to grow to roughly a quarter of the population in 2050, don’t want to be associated with a party—or politicians—they may not agree with. “I think the vitality of American religion has really been hurt by the recent push toward more and more religion in the political space,” he says. “And there are some evangelicals saying, ‘You know, we made a mistake. We need to get out of this political game, because our brand is being hurt.’”

But the entanglement of religion and politics can be used for good, as it was in the abolition and civil rights movements. And while voters in more secular countries are befuddled by the idea of voting for a candidate who waxes on about Jesus, the phenomenon is in some ways a reflection of our nation’s history of religious freedom. Since the US “didn’t have a state church, religion was actually able to thrive more here,” says Prothero. Religion was freed, he explains, from the official political ties that damaged it in times of upheaval, like the French Revolution.

For good or ill, the ongoing importance of religion in US elections also shows that Americans still have a soft spot for faith—even if they’re less likely to be found in the pews. In 2013, more than half of Americans said religion was “very important” in their lives and that it “can answer all or most of today’s problems.”

Historians are getting the message. Whether through new scholarship or exhibitions like the Smithsonian’s, they’re working to integrate religion more deeply into their understanding of the country’s past—and present. “I think part of the reason that there’s been a new interest among scholars in the role of religion is the obvious question of trying to explain the world that we live in now,” says Schulman. He and Prothero point out that religion is critical to understanding a wide range of recent events, from 9/11 to the success of Walmart, a company informed by the religious views of the Walton family.

“Events have sort of overtaken the secular bias among historians,” says Prothero. It’s becoming more difficult, he says, to ignore “that religion matters in American History.”



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Steve Ott
Professor Quiet
1  seeder  Steve Ott    2 weeks ago

There is going to be some screaming about how the article is from 2016.

Again, truth is bound by no age.

Truth is truth from whatever time.

I find it particularly interesting that Jefferson would not be able to be elected to office today. A man revered by both conservative and liberal today.

Even as a member of the religious right, in a life long since past, I found it difficult to understand why my brothers and sisters could not tolerate certain ideas.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
1.1  mocowgirl  replied to  Steve Ott @1    2 weeks ago
Even as a member of the religious right, in a life long since past, I found it difficult to understand why my brothers and sisters could not tolerate certain ideas.

I doubt that they understood either because unless a personal crisis forced them to question the issue from a different perspective.

In my case, I went to school (in Arkansas) with several kids that were homosexual though none were open about it.   Most tried to pretend to have an interest in dating the opposite sex though few actually did.  I just accepted they were on a level of different that I didn't fully understand.

At the age of 19, I discovered my favorite cousin was a lesbian.  This caused me to suspect that some people are just born homosexual.  I didn't care.  I loved my cousin despite her many shortcomings that had nothing to do with being a lesbian.  I became an advocate for tolerance and understanding of homosexuality to the point that many people in the family probably believe that I am a closet lesbian.  My motto became that if I couldn't dazzle them with brilliance, at least I could allow them to baffle themselves with BS.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1.2  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Steve Ott @1    2 weeks ago

I took note that it was a pre-2016 election article, but on reading it (which I did by opening the original source since the lines on the posted artcle ran off my page) that it was no less applicable now than it may have been then.

However, what crossed my mind was wondering whether if Jesus were to run for POTUS today, whether he would even come close to being elected, because, after all, he was a JEW.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
1.2.1  mocowgirl  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.2    2 weeks ago
However, what crossed my mind was wondering whether if Jesus were to run for POTUS today, whether he would even come close to being elected, because, after all, he was a JEW.

I suppose it would matter to the people that such things matter to.

Bernie Sanders had a lot of support because he talked issues in a way that resonated with tens of millions of people.  I don't remember his religion being of importance to his supporters.  Probably because Sanders did not make religion a part of his platform.

His opposition might have tried to weaponize Sanders' religion against him, as had happened when Obama was portrayed as Muslim when he is Christian.  It wasn't effective against Obama and I have my doubts it played a significant role in how Clinton secured the nomination against Sanders.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1.2.2  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  mocowgirl @1.2.1    2 weeks ago

I'd be willing to bet that Joe Lieberman was as much of an anchor for Al Gore as Sarah Palin was for John McCain.  But then I remember watching Gentleman's Agreement.  Let's not forget that ballots are secret, so people have no reticence in allowing their deepest (normally otherwise well-hidden) feelings be counted.  

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Expert
1.2.3  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.2.2    2 weeks ago
I'd be willing to bet that Joe Lieberman was as much of an anchor for Al Gore as Sarah Palin was for John McCain. 

I'll bet that McCain's biggest 2008 regret was letting his aides talk him out of Joe Lieberman for Sarah Palin. 

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
1.2.4  mocowgirl  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.2.2    2 weeks ago
Let's not forget that ballots are secret, so people have no reticence in allowing their deepest (normally otherwise well-hidden) feelings be counted.

That is true.  I've lived in the Bible Belt where the Christians happily fight each other openly over which doctrine must be followed to live peaceably in small communities.  I've heard all manner of sexist and racist things all my life, but I don't recall Jews being mentioned unless someone was concerned that the rapture was near because of wars escalating between the Arabs and the Jews.

I have never met a person of the Jewish faith in person. I did work for a man who told me his son had married a woman of Jewish faith.  I have no idea why it was relevant to the conversation we were having and probably said "I hope they have a happy life together" and moved on to something else.

I know very little about the Jewish religion. After gaining internet access, I've read news articles that some sects treat women barbarically and some are progressive.

Furthermore, I know even less about the Muslim religion.

There are only so many hours in the day that a person has to tend to the things that must be tended to and a few hours to do the things that bring them pleasure.  Religion does not bring me pleasure.  It was forced on me as a child and I finally escaped the indoctrination after 5 decades.   If I discuss religion, it is with the view that it is abusive to women and children.  It is abusive to men, too but they have to speak for themselves on how it has impacted their lives. 

I would not vote for an openly atheist candidate over a religious candidate if I did not support their platform.

I have no idea how others feel about the Jewish religion or what has shaped their views because that is one discussion I don't remember having.  

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Expert
1.2.5  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  mocowgirl @1.2.4    2 weeks ago
I have no idea how others feel about the Jewish religion or what has shaped their views because that is one discussion I don't remember having.  

I had a good friend growing up that was Jewish and I loved spending a Friday night at his house.  There were five boys so the size of the family was much different than my own.  My Protestant attended church but didn't really live by any religious traditions. I refused confirmation when I was 13.  I enjoyed how my friend's family lived there religion and liked attending their sabbat with them.  

The dinner food was wonderful and the closeness of the large, gregarious family was very warming to me.  I'm not a religious person but I really enjoyed being with this family and going to synagogue with them. 

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
1.2.6  mocowgirl  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.2.5    2 weeks ago
I'm not a religious person but I really enjoyed being with this family and going to synagogue with them. 

As an atheist, I would still be open to attending worship if I had a Jewish friend to guide me what to expect at the service so I didn't unknowingly offend anyone. 

I miss Enoch. I think he was a rabbi.  He was a member here and a very funny, very kind person.  The last I knew he was having major health problems.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Expert
1.2.7  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  mocowgirl @1.2.6    2 weeks ago
As an atheist, I would still be open to attending worship if I had a Jewish friend to guide me what to expect at the service so I didn't unknowingly offend anyone. 

They kept me from embarrassing myself. After the service, my friend and I would go to the Junior High School Dance at the YWCA.  Then back to his house and drink some beers that his older brothers provided.  It was an awesome time for me and I loved being welcomed into something other than my otherwise WASP experience. 

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1.2.8  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.2.3    2 weeks ago
"I'll bet that McCain's biggest 2008 regret was letting his aides talk him out of Joe Lieberman for Sarah Palin."

Lieberman certainly had a checkered political career.  I think it ended because of his wife's financial interests.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1.2.9  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  mocowgirl @1.2.4    2 weeks ago
"I've read news articles that some sects treat women barbarically and some are progressive."

The great majority of Jews are Reform and Conservative, who are very modern, as are most Modern Orthodox Jews, none of whom would appear to be different than anyone else, but the Hassidic Ultra-Orthodox Jews are IMO backward and an embarrassment.  You could watch the movie A Price Above Rubies which starred Rene Zellweger to see something about the lifestyle of those Ultra-Orthodox Jews (and her rebellion against it), or A Stranger Among Us, starring Melanie Griffith, about an investigation of a robbery in an Othodox Jewish neighbourhood.  A Musical made into a movie illustrates the previous life style of the eastern European Jews at least a century or more ago - Fiddler on the Roof.  

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1.2.10  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  mocowgirl @1.2.6    2 weeks ago
I miss Enoch.

He is missed by me and MANY others as well.  IMO he was and will always be the "Chaplain Emeritus" of TheNewsTalkers.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
1.2.11  Trout Giggles  replied to  mocowgirl @1.2.4    2 weeks ago
I have never met a person of the Jewish faith in person.

I've met a few in my travels upon this earth. One of my college roommates was Jewish but I don't think she was observant. A fellow smoker at work is Jewish. We got to talking one day about his experiences and where he's from. He's originally from Iran and his dad is Iranian and his mother is from Israel. I asked him if he is Jewish and said yes. I figured if his mother was Israeli she was Jewish. He's also lived in France and Great Britain. He liked the weather here in January because it was warm.

Anyway, my little anecdote means next to nothing. We have a pretty diverse group of people at work and it makes it interesting

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
1.2.12  mocowgirl  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.2.11    2 weeks ago
Anyway, my little anecdote means next to nothing.

Not to me.  I love it when you share your little anecdotes.  I have to take long breaks from forums because I can't handle the constant sniping.  When I return, I look for your witty and fun comments.

We have a pretty diverse group of people at work and it makes it interesting

As it should be.  I love learning about just about anything and everyone.  Evidently, my brain sees life as one huge puzzle that I could put together if I could just find all the pieces.  

I managed vacation rentals in Northwest Arkansas for a short time in the 1980s.  I had a couple tell me how much they loved vacationing in our area because the people were so friendly and helpful.  I thanked them and agreed with them.  And added "We also love to gossip."  LOL!

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
1.2.13  Trout Giggles  replied to  mocowgirl @1.2.12    2 weeks ago

Than-you, you're very kind. I enjoy reading about your life experiences, also. I currently live in Central Arkansas so I find myself nodding in agreement with much of what you say about your life in Arkansas. I'm not originally from here. I got here by way of the military but I've been "around" so to speak. My little bedroom community has a church on every corner. I don't know how a population of around 30K supports all the churches in this town. When we go out to breakfast on Sunday we try to beat the church crowd.

It's hard to be a non-Christian and a liberal where I live. I find myself biting my tongue a lot

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
1.2.14  mocowgirl  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.2.13    2 weeks ago
It's hard to be a non-Christian and a liberal where I live. I find myself biting my tongue a lot

It's interesting when being an atheist/liberal in the land where I was raised in Arkansas.  I rarely bite my tongue.  My wit and sarcasm delivered with a shit eating grin usually amuses people more than it pisses them off.  Besides which, when a person is raised with Southern manners, the difference, between being polite because you have to and being polite because you want to, is miniscule in the delivery of a person who was raised "properly".  LOL!

Living in Southwest Missouri is a world apart in manners from Northwest Arkansas.  I have read that the colder the climate the less friendly the people.  I wouldn't have guessed that 10 degrees would have made that much difference.

If I ever win the lottery, I'm moving to a small shack by a river or lake in a fairly remote area in the South.  Of course, I guess I will have to play the lottery to win it.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
1.2.15  Trout Giggles  replied to  mocowgirl @1.2.14    2 weeks ago

I have a Yankee accent so I can't deliver that "fuck you" to people very well without sounding "yeah...I did mean that".

I find manners in big city Arkansas is vastly different from the more rural areas. I've been all over the state and I found the nicest people in Northeast Arkansas up around Jonesboro and Paragould. I was raised with manners because my mom got mad when I didn't say "May I? Please, and thank-you". Manners were important to her because just because you're poor doesn't mean you have to act it

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
1.2.16  mocowgirl  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.2.15    2 weeks ago
I have a Yankee accent so I can't deliver that "fuck you" to people very well without sounding "yeah...I did mean that".

Attitude is more important than accent.  Pleasant words delivered sincerely are always welcome anywhere they are used.  If a person wants to end a relationship on a permanent basis, then I suggest doing it with some forethought, choose your vocabulary carefully, and above all, maintain your own self-respect.  Trust me, this matters not only to you, but to anyone within shouting distance that hears your words or anyone who hears about it ever.

A properly raised Southerner would never utter the words "fuck you" in anyone's hearing distance, if at all.  (On this one, I have sinned a few times...well maybe more than a few, but never to a properly raised Southerner.)

There are many approved Southern sayings that convey many meanings.  It actually allows a person to still be fairly welcome at family functions, invited to social functions and not be snubbed at church by everyone except the pastor.  It feels far better to turn down invitations occasionally, than to never be asked at all.

Some version of these sayings is just common conversation with the hill folk in my mother's family.  I wasn't raised with these folks and had to learn how to communicate at this level when I was 17.  I also adopted their accent and made it my own.  The manners are as genuine as my eye color.  I like being polite.  I love being politely mischievous.  I loathe conflict which is why I try to understand it fully and "solve" it.  From what I gather, some people are just born with issues that aren't fixable and are best avoided.  I am working on the avoiding part.

24 Colorful Southern Sayings You Won't Hear Anywhere Else — Best Life (bestlifeonline.com)

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
1.2.17  mocowgirl  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.2.15    2 weeks ago
I find manners in big city Arkansas is vastly different from the more rural areas. I've been all over the state and I found the nicest people in Northeast Arkansas up around Jonesboro and Paragould. I was raised with manners because my mom got mad when I didn't say "May I? Please, and thank-you". Manners were important to her because just because you're poor doesn't mean you have to act it

Big city Arkansas most likely have more transplants from other states or the residents aren't from rural areas.

I was raised on a farm around 10 miles from where the Wal-Mart corporate office is now.

These days, the farms have been turned into wall-to-wall subdivisions, mini-malls and malls.  

When I do venture there to visit my daughter and do a little shopping, it is rare to meet anyone who was raised in the area.  Most, of the locals, were forced to sell their farms and move to places more rural and more peaceful.

Your mom sounds like a really good person.  I remember you discussing her a few times.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
PhD Principal
2  Nerm_L    2 weeks ago

The article applies to only one election out of thousands of elections in the United States.  The one and only elected office filled by a national election is that of President.  The electorate no longer has a voice is selecting a Vice President.  All of the other thousands of elected offices are filled by local elections.  Chuck Schumer represents only the people of New York state.  Nancy Pelosi represents only about 750,000 people in the state of California.  Schumer and Pelosi were not elected to represent anyone else in the country.

When Thomas Jefferson was elected, the role of the Office of President in governing was considerably different than today.  In fact, the role of the Federal government in governing was very unlike today.  The founding of the United States was a great experiment in decentralized government; not an experiment in democracy.  The newly formed Federal government was unlike any form of government anywhere around the world.  The United States was governed locally with more autonomous power at the local level.  Today the Office of President is considered the highest authority with the greatest power to govern which is very unlike the authority and power Thomas Jefferson had as President.

Today's Presidential politics have become so divisive because the President has been given autocratic control of the country.  The country is divided over one election out of thousands of elections.  Controlling the Presidency allows imposing political will upon the country in a dictatorial manner.  Something Thomas Jefferson could not have done even if he wanted to.  And local elections are influenced by a desire to resist and manipulate the autocratic authority and power of the President.

That's why the media has become so prominent in today's elections.  The media determines the importance of extraneous issues in Presidential politics.  Religion is only important in a Presidential election because the media focuses attention on religion.  The media has assumed the role of kingmaker in today's Presidential politics.  Controlling the Presidency provides autocratic authority and power over the country to determine what is important and what is not important.  And that autocratic authority and power is obtainable through one, and only one, election out of thousands of elections in the United States.

So, religion is not a problem in today's politics unless the media says it's a problem.  And the religiosity of a President is only a deciding factor in a national election because of the desire to control the Presidency to obtain autocratic authority and power over the country.  What's overlooked is that the President was never intended to have that much autocratic authority and power over the country.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
2.1  mocowgirl  replied to  Nerm_L @2    2 weeks ago
Today's Presidential politics have become so divisive because the President has been given autocratic control of the country. 
Controlling the Presidency allows imposing political will upon the country in a dictatorial manner.  Something Thomas Jefferson could not have done even if he wanted to.

I am concerned with perception of power that some people assign to the office of President so I googled for more information.

You seem to be wrong.  Recent presidents might have used more executive orders, but even executive orders are subject to judicial review.  The laws haven't changed.  The power given to the presidency is because the other legislative branches allow it.  

Powers of the president of the United States - Wikipedia

Early examples of unilateral directives to enact politically controversial policies include   George Washington 's   Proclamation of Neutrality   (1793),   Andrew Jackson 's   Nullification Proclamation   (1832), and   Abraham Lincoln 's   Emancipation Proclamation   (1862). [32]

The   Budget and Accounting Act of 1921   put additional responsibilities on the presidency for the preparation of the   United States federal budget , although Congress was required to approve it. [33]   The act required the   Office of Management and Budget   to assist the president with the preparation of the budget. Previous presidents had the privilege of   impounding   funds as they saw fit, however the   United States Supreme Court   revoked the privilege   in 1998   as a violation of the   Presentment Clause . The power was available to all presidents and was regarded as a power inherent to the office. The   Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974   was passed in response to large-scale power exercises by President Nixon. The act also created the   Congressional Budget Office   as a legislative counterpoint to the Office of Management and Budget.

Executive orders are subject to   judicial review   and   interpretation . Nonetheless, acting independently, a president can heavily influence and redirect the nation's political agenda and reshape its public policies. [32]   As early as 1999,   Terry M. Moe   and   William G. Howell   suggested that presidential capacity to pursue objectives unilaterally, rather than through Congress, "virtually defines what is distinctively modern about the modern American presidency." [34] : 133    This shift can be linked to other changes, in particular the polarization of political parties, increasing tendencies for congressional dysfunction, and the delegation of authority to the executive branch to implement legislative provisions. [32]
 
 
 
Nerm_L
PhD Principal
2.1.1  Nerm_L  replied to  mocowgirl @2.1    2 weeks ago
I am concerned with perception of power that some people assign to the office of President so I googled for more information.

Today the President has the authority to choose which laws are enforced, which laws are not enforced, and how laws are to be enforced.  Today the President has the power to impose national priorities onto the country as a whole.  Today the President has the authority and power to destroy the planet.

Joe Biden has considerably more autocratic authority and power today than did Thomas Jefferson.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
2.1.2  mocowgirl  replied to  Nerm_L @2.1.1    2 weeks ago
Joe Biden has considerably more autocratic authority and power today than did Thomas Jefferson.

If true, what laws have changed to make this possible?  

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Expert
2.1.3  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  mocowgirl @2.1.2    2 weeks ago
what laws have changed to make this possible

I think it has less to do with new laws as it does with US history, presidential ambition and Congressional reluctance.

Perhaps starting with the Great Depression, WW II and the crises and major challenges facing the country since, more and more discretionary power has been taken by the P:resident and Congress just watches.  Sometimes with good reasons, during a national security crises, open debate and multiple votes might increase the danger, not alleviate it.  Other times, when Congress can't agree, the President takes action and Congress quietly sighs in relief because the issue is addressed but the two parties avoided having to compromise or work together.   

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
2.1.4  mocowgirl  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2.1.3    2 weeks ago
Other times, when Congress can't agree, the President takes action and Congress quietly sighs in relief because the issue is addressed but the two parties avoided having to compromise or work together.

I think it is those times that they are in perfect agreement.  The President can only serve a maximum of two terms (unless he was VP and finished out a term for a Pres).  

The President can therefore legislate for special interest groups and be set financially for the rest of his life after leaving office.  

Being elected to Congress usually involves millions of dollars of campaign money.  So once elected, the Congress person may be there for life if they don't piss off the voters for being ineffective or the special interests for being effective when it comes to representing the voters.

Congress is not and has not been doing its job to represent the citizens instead of the special interest for at least 40 years.

This is how Glass-Steagall was repealed and resulted in the 2008 financial meltdown. 

If the checks and balances built into our system of government was working properly, the 1 percent would not have become the .01 percent while more of the middle class sunk into poverty over the past 20 years.

People don't understand how it happened.  Voters did their part.  They voted for someone who promised they would represent the voters' interests.  When the elected rep didn't do a damned thing for the voters, the rep said it was impossible with all of the "gridlock" in Washington, but if they would just re-elect him then he would continue fighting tooth and nail for their interests.

At this point, the elected have worked together enough to keep their jobs and legislate for the .01 percent.

What are the voters supposed to do about it?

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
2.2  mocowgirl  replied to  Nerm_L @2    2 weeks ago
That's why the media has become so prominent in today's elections.  The media determines the importance of extraneous issues in Presidential politics. 

On this I agree.  But it only effective because so many people base the majority of their life's decisions on emotions rather than logic.  

Until it is possible to either eliminate emotions from decision making or eliminating emotional people from voting, I don't how this issue has a viable solution.

Some people will spend their lives trying to decide whether water is wet.  Other people will waste their lives arguing whether water is wet and if the term "wet" shouldn't be outlawed because some people find it offensive.

What would be a more efficient system so we can ensure the citizens of the US have food, clothing, shelter, education and freedom?

 
 
 
Nerm_L
PhD Principal
2.2.1  Nerm_L  replied to  mocowgirl @2.2    2 weeks ago
Until it is possible to either eliminate emotions from decision making or eliminating emotional people from voting, I don't how this issue has a viable solution.

The viable solution is decentralized government as the Constitution intended.  

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
2.2.2  mocowgirl  replied to  Nerm_L @2.2.1    2 weeks ago
The viable solution is decentralized government as the Constitution intended.

So we have mini-Talibans in charge of areas of the country.

No and Hell No.  

The United States is either a country or it is not.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
PhD Principal
2.2.3  Nerm_L  replied to  mocowgirl @2.2.2    2 weeks ago
So we have mini-Talibans in charge of areas of the country.

The point of decentralized government is that a mini-Taliban could not impose their priorities on the entire country.  A mini-Taliban would remain mini.

Your argument highlights how the role of government has changed since the founding of the United States.  Autocratic authority and power has been assumed by the Federal government and the President holds the most autocratic authority and power in the country.  The change in the role of government now allows a mini-Taliban to impose their priorities onto the entire country.  That is only possible by concentrating autocratic authority and power into fewer elected offices.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
2.2.4  mocowgirl  replied to  Nerm_L @2.2.3    2 weeks ago
The point of decentralized government is that a mini-Taliban could not impose their priorities on the entire country.  A mini-Taliban would remain mini.

The point is that government should not be in the business of legislating morality.

We bomb other countries for restricting the rights of citizens to enforce religious rules.

Men, who want to be a member of the Taliban, should move to the Middle East.

I can only imagine what the men, who fought to bring this country into existence free from religious tyranny, would have to say about the men trying to overthrow the rights of people to live free from religious tyranny today.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
PhD Principal
2.2.5  Nerm_L  replied to  mocowgirl @2.2.4    2 weeks ago
The point is that government should not be in the business of legislating morality.

That's true, the government should not be in the business of legislating morality.  But it's also true that the government should not be in the business of legislating amorality.  Excluding morality from society and public decisions is not a function of government, either.

Men, who want to be a member of the Taliban, should move to the Middle East.

Only centralized autocratic authority and power allows imposing moral or amoral priorities onto an entire country.  That's what the Taliban does.  The fact that the same possibility exists today in the United States demonstrates how far the country has drifted from the original intent.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
2.2.6  mocowgirl  replied to  Nerm_L @2.2.5    2 weeks ago
Only centralized autocratic authority and power allows imposing moral or amoral priorities onto an entire country. 

What do you mean by "amoral priorities"?

 
 
 
Nerm_L
PhD Principal
2.2.7  Nerm_L  replied to  mocowgirl @2.2.6    2 weeks ago
What do you mean by "amoral priorities"?

Obtaining power for the sake of obtaining power would be an amoral priority.  Winning a contest just to be the winner is an amoral priority.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
2.2.8  mocowgirl  replied to  Nerm_L @2.2.7    2 weeks ago
Obtaining power for the sake of obtaining power would be an amoral priority.  Winning a contest just to be the winner is an amoral priority.

So how are they going to impose that onto an entire country?

What is being imposed on an entire country?  

Legislation?  

Legislation based on religion?

Legislation not based on religion?

What is being imposed?

 
 
 
Nerm_L
PhD Principal
2.2.9  Nerm_L  replied to  mocowgirl @2.2.8    2 weeks ago
So how are they going to impose that onto an entire country?

What is being imposed on an entire country?  

Legislation?  

Legislation based on religion?

Legislation not based on religion?

What is being imposed?

Closed primaries.  Gerrymandering.  Representing a political party rather than constituents.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
2.2.10  mocowgirl  replied to  Nerm_L @2.2.9    2 weeks ago

I'm leaving this conversation.

Thank you. 

Have a nice evening.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
2.2.11  Ender  replied to  Nerm_L @2.2.9    2 weeks ago

Yet it is the people that allow it and cheer it on.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
PhD Principal
2.2.12  Nerm_L  replied to  Ender @2.2.11    2 weeks ago
Yet it is the people that allow it and cheer it on.

Who are the people that allow it?  Does the electorate have a say?

Around 40 pct of the electorate does not claim a party affiliation.  Unaffiliated voters are not responsible for closed primaries, gerrymandering, or representing a political party rather than constituents.  But then, neither are affiliated voters.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
2.2.13  Ender  replied to  Nerm_L @2.2.12    2 weeks ago

You do not see people that parrot party line over anything? Yes people vote these people in office. Yes people stick with a party. Trying to say that the people voting have zero say in any of it is kinda disingenuous. 

How many times have you heard someone say they are going to vote straight party ticket...

 
 

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